1Much has changed in the world of fashion since “waist overalls” were first introduced to laborers in the California mines more than 130 years ago. Made of sturdy, denim material, metal rivets located at points of strain and pockets placed at corners for carrying tools, Bavarian immigrant Levi Strauss and Nevada tailor Jacob Davis sought to invent a pair of pants sturdy enough to hold up to the rigors of hard work.

Once considered cheap garments constructed to stand up to the rugged terrain of the treacherous California mountainside, denim is no longer relegated to the working class. Today, denim is a lifestyle.

And as labels such as True Religion, Rock & Republic, Citizens of Humanity, Blac Label and 7 for All Mankind come with price tags as much as $350, denim is no longer a poor man’s garment. In fact, these high-end fashion blue jeans are sold in high-end stores like Saks and Barneys New York. You won’t get these at Wal-Mart.

Luxury denim companies whose jeans cost $100-plus netted $100 million in sales last year. Jeans priced at $100 and above saw a 23% sales increase, from $165 million to $203 million. Jeans priced $75 to $99.99 grew 16.9%, to $55 million. Newer companies like Prps offer the look, feel and comfort that has celebrated athletes like Tom Brady and David Beckham to style aficionados like Brad Pitt and Jay-Z trading in their old pair of Calvin Kleins for this new upscale denim lifestyle.

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