Jeans first became popular with gold miners during the California Gold Rush. Miners needed sturdy clothing for their work. Levi Strauss moved to California and opened a wholesale clothing business to meet this new demand. Not long after, Jacob Davis invented the rivets that keep jean pockets from tearing. Davis teamed with Strauss and the modern jean was born. Today, jeans range from a functional work garment to a high fashion statement with just as broad a range in pricing.
Specialty Designer Jeans
Jeans are a fashion staple and have been crafted in extravagant ways by several designers. Though not mass produced or widely available, their outrageous designs made them some of the most expensive in history. Gucci Genius jeans once landed in the Guinness Book Of World Records for the most expensive off the rack jeans costing $3,134. APO custom jeans range from $1,000 to $4,000. Escada couture line jeans start at $7,500 and, depending on the customer order, can cost indefinitely more. The most expensive pair of Escada jeans produced so far cost $10,000. None of these jeans come close to Dussault Apparel's Trashed Denim line, which cost $250,000 a pair and come embellished with rubies, diamonds and gold.
Balmain jeans, in 2011, are the most expensive off the rack jeans available. They range in price from $800 to $3,500. These jeans offer Balmain's signature rock n' roll style and are made in Italy from high end denim and leather.
Other Designer Jeans
Several other designers offer jeans near the Balmain price point. Junya Watanabe recreated Levi Jeans, which sell between $600 and $1,000. Rick Owens, D2SQUARED, Alexander McQueen, True Religion Exclusive and Maison Martin Margiela designer jeans cost anywhere from $400 to $700, as of 2011, with prices varying each season.
Department Store Jeans
Most of these designer jeans are only available in specialty boutiques, high end department stores in major cities and online. Large chain department stores offer mid-range luxury jeans ranging in price from $200 to $400, however. These brands include True Religion, DIESEL, Burberry, D&G, Rock & Republic and Citizens of Humanity.