Asda and Tesco target designer lines with cut-price trendy jeans

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The Independent Online

With jeans making a comeback among couture designers and the fashion cognoscenti, the aisles of supermarkets are being filled with designer-inspired denim items for less than £20, compared to the £150 price tags of the most sought-after labels,

The price of a pair of jeans fell to a new low earlier this year, when Tesco and Asda dropped their price to £3 a pair. Tesco sells about 50,000 pairs of its value jeans a week, and has spotted a new niche in the denim market. It is also boosted by the fact denim is back "in".

A Tesco spokeswoman said the new jeans in its Cherokee range - launched yesterday - are the clothing equivalent of the supermarket's "Finest" range of food, and are designed to entice fashionistas not bargain hunters.

She said: "Our £3 jeans are not a fashion item - they are much more about functional wear. They are really popular with builders, who previously had to spend quite a lot of money on just a basic pair of jeans.

"Now they don't worry if they split them or get paint on them, because they can easily afford another pair. The Cherokee jeans are much more about fashion; there are different cuts, including the skinny cut, and they are being marketed as a premium product because we know customers want that choice."

The Cherokee skinny jeans will retail at around £15, a tenth of the price of a designer denim range they are modelled on, such as Sass & Bide. Last month, Asda also launched a range of fashion jeans - priced between £12 and £18 - under its George label, based on the latest styles.

A spokeswoman said: "It's just extending the range of jeans at a time when denim is becoming fashionable again, rather than just a basic item in the wardrobe."

It is not the first time that the big supermarkets have muscled in on designer clothing. Asda scored a sell-out hit this year with a £20 dress, inspired by French design house Chloe.

Primark and Matalan have also become adept at quickly churning out cut-price versions of catwalk couture within weeks of the international fashion shows.

After spending a decade in the fashion doldrums, denim is making a comeback, particularly among women. Industry insiders blame middle-aged denim wearers such as Tony Blair and the Top Gear presenter Jeremy Clarkson for the unpopularity of jeans in the 1990s. But that effect has waned, and Kate Moss and Sienna Miller are credited with the rise of this season's most fashionable look - skinny jeans tucked into boots.

The UK jeans market is worth £1.3bn, with sales up by 56 per cent compared to five years ago, according to a report by market analysts Mintel. The average woman owns eight pairs, and sales in the female sector have soared by 72 per cent since 2000.

How much?

* Tesco Cherokee boot cut: £15

* Asda George skinny: £16

* Calvin Klein boot cut: £240

* Sass & Bide Misfit: £135

* Rock & Republic by Victoria Beckham: £199

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