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Gap's Patrick Robinson Dishes on New Premium Denim Under $70

When we caught up with Head of Design for Gap Patrick Robinson during his whirlwind visit to San Francisco last week, the Giorgio Armani and Paco Rabanne alum tapped to revive his current company’s style cred from the only-for-prepsters pigeon hole it had arguably been living in for well over a decade was juggling journalists on the bustling floor of the Gap at Market and Powell in between efforts to shop Gap’s latest offerings for fall.

“I only wear Gap, since the day I started,” says Robinson, who tells us he shops at Gap stores when he travels to different cities.

Clad in a slim-fitting denim shirt and distressed jeans of a contrasting wash, Robinson looks every bit the cool, modern customer Gap hopes to convert with the 1969 Premium Jeans collection that’s been arriving in stores this month and becomes officially available on Aug. 13 after nearly a year-and-a-half in the making.

Named for the year Gap was founded, the new line of 14 different fits for men and women replaces the retailer’s past denim collections with retooled silhouettes and details designed to appeal to fans of high-end premium denim labels such as Seven for All Mankind, Citizens of Humanity, J Brand and others.

“It started clicking in my head that denim in the last 15 years had become a luxury item….All of a sudden, jeans went from being a casual sort of commodity to being the most elegant thing in your wardrobe. Now you can wear jeans to a date, to a wedding, and you’re the coolest person there. That kind of took denim to a different place, and Gap needed to address that,” Robinson says.

Among the women’s styles ($59.50-$69.50) are the slim-fitting Always Skinny, figure-flattering Sexy Boot and the trendy Boyfriend. Guys may choose from the hipster-friendly Skinny fit, a slouchy style called Loose and more traditional Standard and Authentic styles ($54.50-$64.50).

So, we wanted to know, what makes a pair of jeans premium, if not the price?

“We went out there and made the best-fitting jeans in the world. And that’s a big statement,” Robinson says.

Gap’s new jeans were designed to combat such problems as gaping at the back waistband and sizing discrepancies that can occur among denim styles in different washes and fabrics. If you wear a size 8 one pair of 1969 Premium Jeans, Robinson assures us, you’ll wear the same size in all washes and fabrics. Beyond the fit factor, the new collection does away with the labels that once graced the back waistbands of Gap denim in favor of a subtler “1969” screen-print and features chambray details on the interior of the women’s styles, a signature blue rivet on the front coin pockets and buttons stamped with the line’s namesake year.

The premium denim is part of Robinson’s ongoing efforts to revamp every clothing category Gap sells.

“I want them all to feel relevant today. It has to be about Americans’ lifestyle today and tomorrow,” he says.

Staying relevant is not Robinson’s only goal. He also hopes to give women the rear-view they’ve always wanted.

“Every woman puts on a pair of jeans and what does she do? She turns around and looks in the mirror at the butt. Every woman has to have an amazing rock star butt,” he enthuses.

Want to size Gap’s new premium denim up in person? Head to Gap (890 Market St., 415-788-5909) for an in-store event on Aug. 20, and you’ll save $20 off any pair of 1969 Premium Jeans and 15 percent off your purchase.