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Fred Segal Puts a Sustainable Spin on Revived Denim Bar

Los Angeles stalwart Fred Segal is bringing back a legendary fixture from its 61-year legacy. On Monday, the Hollywood-favorite shop reinstated its updated denim bar with today’s top denim brands and plans to open standalone denim-focused locations nationwide.

The retailer is debuting what it now calls The Original Jean Bar at its flagship location on L.A.’s Sunset Boulevard and is eyeing up to six, 900-square foot standalone Jean Bar locations separate from Fred Segal stores in 2023. Eventually, it will have standalone locations in “every major city” across the country, beginning with New York and Miami, and plans to expand the concept internationally in the next few years.

First hitting the scene in 1965, the denim bar was an installation dedicated solely to jeans, which were offered for $19.95 when the average industry pair went for just $3. Its expert curation and marketing were some of the many reasons why late founder Fred Segal was credited with pioneering the designer denim craze, and why the retailer amassed a following that spanned A-list celebrities from Elvis Presley and Diana Ross to Paris Hilton and Britney Spears. He also invented the “shop-in-shop” retail model after having employees manage their own spaces inside the store as it expanded.

Synonymous with L.A. style, the retailer became an elite destination throughout the 2000s, attracting paparazzi waiting outside for its famous clientele to exit.

“Fred Segal has always been ahead of the curve when it comes to setting trends and the original denim bar was the beginning of that,” said Ashley Petrie, vice president, merchandising and brand development at Fred Segal. “We wanted to bring back that sense of nostalgia but in an entirely new and fresh way that speaks to what our customers want [today].”

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A key fixture in post-pandemic style, denim has risen to the top of trend reports in recent seasons. Petrie said this fueled the concept’s expansion.

“As we transition away from loungewear, sweats and leggings post pandemic, we are seeing a revival of jeans as a happy and comfortable medium that serves as a quintessential wardrobe staple,” she said. “Jeans represent so much of the L.A. lifestyle, as well as our history having started as the destination to buy cutting edge styles and trends during the 60’s. With denim having evolved over the decades in terms of fit, fabrication and innovation, we plan to incorporate all of those details into our newest tangible in-store experience.”

The Original Jean Bar features a “retro-modern” display of denim with floor-to-ceiling wood shelving that nods to the denim bar of the ’60s. It features products curated in part by Denim Dudes founder Amy Leverton. As a designer, consultant, trend forecaster and author based in L.A., Leverton was a natural partner for the project. “Amy has a modern approach to denim and is able to forecast trends in the denim world. Her talent and mindset aligned perfectly with our brand,” Petrie said.

The new assortment includes some of the traditional fits that the retailer first launched with in the 60’s, such as the flare, skinny, and an updated bootcut. It also features fits and washes representing different decades, including Y2k-era low-rise jeans.

The denim expert focused on men’s and women’s denim brands embodying the ideals of today’s consumer, which often center on sustainability and inclusivity. Labels span a mix of emerging as well as established brands, such as size-inclusive, B Corp label Good American, premium denim brand Frame, sustainable brand Closed, upcycled trailblazers EB Denim and Re/Done, and more.