Ever since Levi Strauss announced that in future it would be "engineering" its jeans, rival producers around the world have been experimenting with new cuts and constructions. The latest recruit to create new shapes is the Swiss-based Big Star group.

"Whereas four years ago 90 per cent of all jeans sales were of the classic five pocket styles, today the proportion has fallen to under 50 per cent," said Big Star. "Consumers are demanding more imaginative detailing while manufacturers are seeking greater efficiency from their production units."

As a result Big Star's new women's wear jeans will feature a curved yoke seam which "flows" in an arch from leg front to side seam. An extra high slit has been introduced to the leg bottom and padding to the small back pocket, while a deep waist band provides comfort allied to snug fit.

In the companion male appeal range the leg opening is now slightly asymmetric and the waistline cut low. A further 2lst century adjustment is the expansion of what was formerly the watch pocket to accommodate a mobile phone. The fabric for both sexes is lightweight but industrial quality denim with a look of cross hatching built into the weave.

With an annual turnover in excess of CHF150m, Big Star now reckons its to be among the top half dozen European brands. As well as selling into all the major EU markets the brand commands strong loyalty across all the former eastern bloc nations and sells particularly well into Poland where it is currently reported to be the market leader.

By Sonia Roberts