Denim giant gets a makeover

My denim binge began at 3pm on Regent Street and finished at 3am in Charing Cross, where I found myself rubbing shoulders and swapping moves with Mick Jones, Henry Holland and the rest of 'em...

A trip to the brand spanking new Levi's flagship store brought with it a truly unique shopping experience. This colossal Regent Street shop is a labour of love and seems to have addressed the 'can't see the wood for the trees' issue of the previous Levi's incarnation.

The impressive entrance with its giant photo screens and podium mounted art looks more like a gallery than a shop, so you don't feel like you are getting the hard sell from the word go, but are left to peruse at your leisure. 

Bare brick and concrete ensure the products jump out at you. Couple this factor with some tidy new drawer style display cabinets and Levi's seem to have nailed the balance between having a wide product range, a clever use of space and a decent browsing experience which is vital for anyone, especially those shopaphobic men scared off by too many options. The glass wall of the stockroom and the perfectly laid out mountain of prime Denim is sublime: a must for denim addicts.

Tuesday night saw the gargantuan denim brand host an even bigger bash at London's Heaven to celebrate its triumphant return to the world of retail and the relaunch of its flagship store. And boy do they know how to throw a party...

Heaven is a dying breed: a cool central London club without the bankers and the sexy r'n'b, where throngs of liberated party people dance to the credible beats of Kitsune or sway to the sounds of some hot new indie talent, any night of the week. They just don't make London clubs quite like this anymore, now that the fascists have turned 'em all into office blocks, anyway. This particular rave cave is complete with dark corners, low ceilings and sticky floors, all held together by the irresistible pull of seedy glamour: what more could you want?

This is what Heaven itself would probably look like to the eternal hedonist: beautiful people, free flowing booze and a bloody good soundtrack to boot. Indeed, London's fashion pack were out in full bloom: the place was awash with floral fever and looked like a chintzy springtime garden. Revellers donned reams and reams of denim, enough to fit out a small country in 501s. But this is a Levi's party of course, and Levi's practically invented denim.

This was not a swanky West End affair, just an uber cool one. Confidently casual, the ethos of the night itself paid homage to the laid-back spirit of the brand. Fashionistas channelled the double denim and leather look, and East London hip-hop boys wore their Hi-Tops with pride. This was like London Fashion week, only with better music, more colour and lots of Sailor Jerry. Ahoy!

Levi's managed to pull some pretty big acts out of the bag, as funk, hip-hop and bangin' electro all partied together. Mick Jones and his Rotten Hill Gang (they're all from Notting Hill, see what they've done there?) looked mildly incongruous: a West London MC, a hot curly haired songstress, a guy in a stiff striped suit, and Clash legend Mick Jones. But the appeal of this motely crue is just that: they are one big, mismatched, happy family whose musical offerings are just as mismatched as their dress sense. And Mick Jones is something of a sacred relic.

A few Sailor Jerrys later and N.E.R.D audaciously explode onto the stage in full dramatic, hip-hop glory. This band don't do anything by halves and their live performance was yet another exercise in high-octane sonic ostentatiousness. But the crowd just couldn't get enough of the stuff. Limbs were flailing and booties were shaking: Pharrell and his boys played an intense set of classic N.E.R.D material: 'Provider', 'She Wants To Move', they were all there. Jeez, these guys imbue a sense of credibility to a type of music that could so easily just be really fucking cheesy. And Pharrell obviously oozes sex appeal.

And last, but in no way least, epochal party lords 2 many DJs took to the decks to round off the night with a spanking set of sweaty electro nuggets to really hit that late-night party spot. Their pumped up disco take on the Mac's 'Rhiannon' made the crowd go native and it definitely wasn't the E Talking. These guys rarely have a dissatisfied customer.

Get down to the flagship store now, for a big slice of denim heaven...

Words by April Welsh

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