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Fred Segal, Designer Who Commodified California Cool, Dies at 87

  • February 28, 2021

In 1961, Mr. Segal and Ron Herman, his nephew, opened a shop half as large on Melrose Avenue that carried only jeans, which they sold for $19.95 a pair — a price that was practically unheard-of at the time, when men still wore suits and denim pants typically sold for $3 a pair.

“My concept was that people wanted to be comfortable, casual and sexy, so I thought it would work, and obviously it did work,” Mr. Segal said in an interview with Haute Living magazine in 2012.

People flocked to the store to buy the jeans, driven in no small part by celebrities like Jay Sebring, the hairdresser who was one of the inspirations for Warren Beatty’s character in “Shampoo,” who wore tight, flare-bottomed jeans and a fitted shirt that he had purchased at Mr. Segal’s store. Mr. Segal’s customers soon included the Beatles, Elvis Presley and Diana Ross, as well as members of the Jackson Five and Jefferson Airplane.

“When I first came to L.A. in the late ’70s, there were two things everyone talked about: Gucci bags and Fred Segal,” the writer Pleasant Gehman told The New York Times in 2001.

His designs were notable for fits that were unusual for the time. Pants were cut for men so they would fall low on the hips, for instance, and his stores also sold tightfitting French T-shirts and Danskin leotards.

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