CUSTOM-FIT CLOTHES SYSTEM TO EXPAND

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Levi Strauss & Co.'s custom-fit jeans have been so successful that its technology partner is working on extending the concept to bras, swimsuits, shoes and other apparel.

"Buying a swimsuit is painful enough that people will pay enough for a custom product," said Sung Park, president of Custom Clothing Technology Corp., Newton, Mass. Custom Clothing is pursuing mass customization of other apparel with Levi's, other marketers and independently.

Levi Strauss last year introduced the Personal Pair Custom Fit Jeans for Women program in Cincinnati and Columbus, Ohio; Peabody, Mass.; and New York City. Now, the program is in 13 stores with seven more to be added by yearend. "That speaks to the success of the program," said Jill Lynch, senior corporate marketing specialist.

Under the program, a clerk measures waist, hips, inseam and rise. The customer tries on a prototype pair for fit, and the exact measurements are sent to a computer linked to the Levi's factory in Mountain City, Tenn. The jeans, which cost about $70-$10 over usual retail prices-are bar-coded, allowing for easy re-ordering.

Because of the program's success, Levi Strauss has added a second style of jeans, one with a slightly flared leg, to the original tapered leg offering, as well as four new colors for a total of five.

Marketing includes in store posters and a currently low budget radio campaign, from Foote, Cone & Belding, San Francisco, scheduled to be expanded significantly as more stores are added, sources said.

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