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Levi Strauss & Co. is refashioning its Dockers casual clothing brand with a younger and hipper marketing fit. The company is opening new stand-alone shops and department-store venues, as well as launching a multifaceted marketing campaign.

Dockers, with more than $1 billion in annual sales, has begun an ambitious rollout of stand-alone shops, with 50 scheduled to be open by 1999. The project, which began in 1992, includes retail outlets, dubbed Dockers Shops and placed in traditional malls, as well as discount Dockers Outlets in off-price malls. Currently, five Dockers Shops have been opened in Ohio and the Boston area; five additional retail shops and five discount outlets are slated to open by the end of the year.

Until early this year, under terms of a 1978 consent decree involving a price-fixing case, Levi Strauss was barred from opening retail outlets.

The new Dockers Shops, with about 4,500 square feet, will have a broad selection of Dockers products, including its premium line, Dockers Authentics, golf apparel and women's clothing.

"The store conveys a more overtly young and hip and cool image than in the past," said Annette Lim, retail marketing services manager, Levi's Only Stores, a Levi Strauss subsidiary that operates both the Dockers stores and Original Levi Stores.

The company decided to open the stores to spotlight the brand and to control the display environment.

"We really wanted to create a monument to the brand," said Ms. Lim. "The stores are intended to enhance the image of Dockers and enable us to showcase the depth and breadth of the brand's product offering."

In addition to the free-standing shops, Dockers will open 60 new super Dockers shops within department stores nationwide. Also, the company is repositioning its upscale offering, the 2-year-old Dockers Authentics line, with the rollout of 150 shops in department stores nationwide.

The new retail presence comprises only one prong of the Dockers attack. This month, Dockers launched a humorous ad campaign, tagged "nice pants," for its new flat-front khakis. The agency is Foote, Cone & Belding, San Francisco.

One spot shows a young man examining a vintage motorcycle, and he accidentally breaks off a mirror. The owner shows up, gives him a threatening look, then merely says: "nice pants." Another spot, showing a crowd looking up at a man who appears to be jumping off a skyscraper but is actually rescuing a cat, will run with several different scenarios. In some placements, the spots will run 45 seconds paired with a different 15-second spot.

Dockers' Authentics, the top-of-the-line entry, was re-launched this month with a street-wise marketing campaign aimed at men in their 20s and 30s. It includes alternative music concerts in six cities sponsored in conjunction with Spin and local radio stations.

Spending on both campaigns is $35 million.

The Dockers efforts are part of Levi Strauss' plan to capitalize on the casualization of the workplace. The company also plans to bring out a new brand of dress pants in the fall of 1996.

Promotion for the as-yet-unnamed brand will begin late this year.

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