Levis at JC Penny - just cheap, or crap?
July 3, 2012 3:03 PM   Subscribe

Are the Levis sold at JC Penny, TJ Maxx, etc. more cheaply made?

I've noticed that JC Penny, for example, is selling Levi 510s for $30-40 less per pair than the Levis stores in DC. It looks to be the same product, but are there more subtle differences in quality that I'm missing, and that will make a difference in durability?
posted by ryanshepard to Shopping (18 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
There seem to be brands within brands, but TJ Maxx buys stock from other dept stores, so I doubt that there's a separate Levi's brand for them.
posted by Ideefixe at 3:12 PM on July 3, 2012 [1 favorite]

Actually, it's pretty well known among the budget fashionista crowd that many designers make stuff specifically for the discount stores.

Stores like TJ Maxx, Marshalls, etc., might get some stuff from department stores but they also get stuff from "jobbers" or wholesalers who buy from other wholesalers.

Your best bet is to stick to the discount stores directly connected to the big retailer (Nordstrom Rack or Last Chance for Nordstrom or Off Fifth for Saks).
posted by nubianinthedesert at 3:21 PM on July 3, 2012 [2 favorites]

I'm not sure about Levis, but responding to Ideefixe, TJ/TK Maxx totally sells cheaply made just for them clothes under designer names that are carried in major dept stores (my cousin works designing a lot of this stuff). A designer item at TJ Maxx may well be crap made just for them, so I wouldn't be surprised if this is the case with Levi's. That said, the Levi's my wife buys at Macy's and Zappos have always been totally fine.
posted by crabintheocean at 3:24 PM on July 3, 2012

The Levis sold at Costco are absolutely more cheaply made. The material is much thinner, and it's quite obvious when you pick them up in the store.
posted by zsazsa at 4:40 PM on July 3, 2012 [1 favorite]

not sure about the stores you are speaking to exactly but it's not uncommon for brands to license their name to manufacturers who will create product that are inferior in materials (and this cheaper to make and sold at a lower price) to the product the brand itself sells directly to higher end retailers or sell themselves. costco is one example of a retailer that sells the cheaply made licensed product.
posted by violetk at 4:53 PM on July 3, 2012

Levi's are not designer clothing, so debates about designers making clothing specifically for Marshall's or TJ Maxx is a bit moot.

Having had a few pairs of Levi's bought from their SoHo store, they seem to about on par with the jeans you'd get at the Gap or any other midrange brand. I guess it's possible that the jeans sold as Levi's at JC Penny are complete crap, but I don't see what the benefit of that would be for the Levi's brand. Don't they want to sell items that will make people like Levi's and want to continue buying them?

The designers can do the "brand within a brand" thing because at the end of the day, people aren't expecting Haute Couture from TJ Maxx. In fact, most people shopping at TJ Maxx are buying the "designer" labels for the label and don't even know what designer fashion really is about.
posted by Sara C. at 4:55 PM on July 3, 2012

I have Levi's from Kohls and from the nearby Levi Outlet store. Both seem to be of similar, good quality. You may be able to trust department stores quality-wise. Not sure about TJ-Maxx type stores.
posted by quietta at 5:25 PM on July 3, 2012 [1 favorite]

I don't know about Levi's specifically, but the Lucky Jeans that I've seen even at department stores like Macy's are certainly inferior in quality compared to the jeans I buy at the actual Lucky Jeans store, so I would not be surprised if this was the case for Levi's and discount stores. Similar to how there are things at outlet stores made specifically for the outlet out of cheaper materials (like Gap, Banana Republic, etc...).
posted by echo0720 at 5:38 PM on July 3, 2012

Levis definitely makes different lines of jeans, even within the sub-brands associated with the lines. Like, there are several variations on 501s, ranging from $30 to $1,500 (collector's editions).
It would surprise me not at all to learn that they manufacture especially for the lower-end retail market, as you've described. I can tell you from experience that a key differentiator will be fit.
posted by thinkpiece at 5:51 PM on July 3, 2012

Levi's are not designer clothing, so debates about designers making clothing specifically for Marshall's or TJ Maxx is a bit moot.

this isn't limited to "designers." having worked for several major athletic brands, i do know that for instance, adidas does license their name and the adidas items you will find at costco are not the same items you are going to find in-line. it's in the same vein that a lot of brands have started designing and selling specifically for outlet venues.

…I don't see what the benefit of that would be for the Levi's brand.

it would allow them to reach a market that might not otherwise be able to afford their in-line products.

now i am not saying that levi's does this. i have no idea if they do. but their are many, many brands out there who do license their name out to manufacturers who create a lower price-point product.
posted by violetk at 5:59 PM on July 3, 2012 [2 favorites]

Sara C: I don't see what the benefit of that would be for the Levi's brand. Don't they want to sell items that will make people like Levi's and want to continue buying them?

This Fast Company article explains why Levi's made a cheaper line for Wal-Mart. The relevant story starts on the bottom of page five.

Basically, money.
posted by Georgina at 6:51 PM on July 3, 2012 [4 favorites]

This is what I've gathered regarding brand name products (and there is some crossover):

Normal retail: Regularly priced brand names
Discount chains: Overstock and factory seconds
Outlet stores: Direct-to-outlet, second tier (single-stitch rather than double-stitch; blends rather than, say, 100% cashmere)

This link has some interesting information regarding outlet stores.
posted by malocchio at 7:09 PM on July 3, 2012 [1 favorite]

I bought 2 pairs of Levi's Curve ID jeans (new style for women) at a Levi's store, and picked up 2 more pair without trying them on at a Dillards (department store, not discount). The fabric was different even though the fiber content was the same, and the cut was slightly different.
posted by Houstonian at 7:22 PM on July 3, 2012

Zsazsa noted the thickness of the levis at costco - those are intentionally lighter for summer/fashion/fit. My favorite jeans ever in history were a summer cut with a light weight denim ( the fabric weight is listed on some of the labels of reputable jeans) and when it finally fell into pieces i was on the hunt for a replacement. I have 2 pairs of the lightweight levis from Costco and I wish they were lighter still.
posted by zenon at 9:19 PM on July 3, 2012

Even nordstrom rack carries lots of designed-for-nordstrom-rack-only versions of things, unfortunately :-/
posted by -harlequin- at 1:58 AM on July 4, 2012 [1 favorite]

I own a pair of Levis that I bought from a JC Penny's or other department store about 6 years ago and they've held up fantastically. I don't own any from a Levis from the Levis store for comparison though.
posted by forkisbetter at 6:30 AM on July 30, 2012

I buy Levi's at JCPenney's, three pairs at a time, and they last at least 4 years before I have to replace them.
posted by chana meira at 12:40 PM on July 30, 2012

Levi's makes a mass market version of their jeans for Target. As do Converse and many actual name brand designers (Missoni, for example had a limited edition line for Target exclusively). JC Penny sort of surprises me, though, since they aren't really considered a "discount retailer" so much as a low end department store.
posted by anonym0use at 8:15 PM on August 6, 2012

« Older Holding Deposit Paid, Apartment No Longer...   |   Given that x = Asian style cooking and y = a type... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.