Fred Segal’s ‘Denim Bar’ Is Back, and This Time It’s All About Ethics

Fred Segal Denim Bar
Courtesy Fred Segal

Fred Segal is a Los Angeles luxury institution, and it’s bringing back the trend that started it all. The Jean Bar is back and this time it’s promoting ethical and sustainable denim.

In 1961, the Los Angeles-based luxury retailer Fred Segal opened its doors to the first “Denim Bar.” It bucked conventional trends and became iconic, helping to define LA style for the decade and decades to come. Now it says it’s bringing the concept back, but with an ethical twist.

“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,” Ashley Petrie, vice president, merchandising and brand development at Fred Segal, said in a statement.

“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].”

Courtesy

The chain, which now operates nine stores, expanded its offerings over the years to expand beyond denim, including department store essentials.

Segal and his buyers “were able to pull what made Los Angeles distinct and put that into the store instead of looking—as so many others did—to the runways of New York, or even Europe,” Valli Herman, a lifestyles writer and former L.A. Times fashion critic, told LAist last year following Segal’s death at 87.

“When he started, it was all just Lee jeans and Levi’s, and they were just work jeans,” daughter Annie Segal told The Los Angeles Times last year. “He was the first person to lower the waistband to create a hip-hugger jean. He was the first person, I think, to embellish jeans with rhinestones. He had an onsite rhinestone guy. That was in the 1960s. No one was doing that.”

The Original Jean Bar

Earlier this week, the chain announced it has re-launched its denim bar and says it plans to open standalone denim shops across the country. The Original Jean Bar is now open at the flagship Fred Segal location on Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles, with up to six 900-square-foot locations slated for next year. The chain says it will have its Jean Bars in every major U.S. city eventually, beginning with Miami and New York City.

“Throughout our 60 years, Fred Segal has been a place of many firsts; none more lasting and celebrated than the creation of the very first Denim Bar,” Brian Nyilas, vice president of merchandising and business development at Fred Segal, told Mr. Mag last year.

“From customizations for celebrities and locals alike to a myriad of fits and designs – there has always been something for everyone. The Fred Segal Denim bar spawned a movement redefining the L.A. lifestyle that has both inspired millions and been replicated across the entire globe. It’s safe to say denim is in our DNA,” Nyilas said.

The new Original Jean Bar features a “retro-modern” floor-to-ceiling design, stacked with denim. The collection is curated in part by Denim Dudes founder Amy Leverton. “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.

Fred Segal says post-pandemic style is seeing jeans make a comeback.

“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,” Petrie 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 ’60s. 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.”

Jeans 2.0

But the new denim bar is also focusing on size-inclusive and sustainable denim as the conscious fashion trend grows. Specifically, it’s featuring selections from Khloé Kardashian’s Good American. The size-inclusive brand’s Always Fits range, has replaced traditional sizing with five size ranges instead: 00-4, 6-12, 14-18, 20-26, and 28-32. 

Good American is also focused on sustainable cotton. It earned its B Corp certification last year. “Earning B Corp certified means we will continue to put people and the planet up there with profit,” the brand says.

Other denim brands featured in the Jeans Bar include the sustainable brand Closed, as well as upcycled brands EB Denim and Re/Done.

The sustainable and ethical denim category is exploding with options, from Reformation’s wide range of styles, to celebrity-favorite DL1961’s vertically integrated jeans.

 “Denim has played a deep role in our history, and we in its evolution,” Nyilas said, calling it a natural jumping-off point in its journey of “storytelling, reminiscing, and love.”

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