Denim in the Desert—Levi’s® Store Shines in Dubai

Levi Strauss & Co.
December 6, 2017

The official reopening the Levi’s® store in the Dubai Mall—the world’s largest—called for a special gala.

I recently traveled to the Middle East for the celebration, which also marked 50 years of our iconic Lot 70505 Trucker jacket and the opening of the store’s new Tailor Shop in a place where flowing abayas blend on the street with Levi’s® denim.

Ten years ago, when Dubai really began to blossom as an oasis in the desert – replete with a man-made lake and islands, skyscrapers and modern shopping centers – LS&Co. first opened the Levi’s® store in the Dubai Mall. Today, the revamped store boasts a Tailor Shop and the latest Levi’s® looks just steps from the mall’s ice rink, one floor above the aquarium and a quick jaunt away from the adjoining Burj Khalifa, the globe’s tallest building.

During my visit, I was asked about things like the history of the modern trucker jacket as we know it today, and the man behind the design – Jack Lucier. Jack is still alive and well and living in San Francisco. He’s about 80 with grey hair and still wearing his denim! His dad, Chris, was the one who introduced the little red Levi’s® tag in 1937, so it’s a family business. He sketched the jacket on a notepad, sent it out to the pattern maker and that design has become so iconic – it’s been copied all over the place. It’s slimming because it has this V design at the front.

I shared stories of the six customized Levi’s® garments that I hand-carried from the LS&Co. Archives in San Francisco. The pieces ranged from Doug Hansen’s “Summer of Love” inspired pants and a 1967 tie-dyed Trucker jacket to Jennifer Lopez’ crystal-studded Superbowl Levi’s® jeans created as her self-titled second album, JLo, was released.

I also squeezed in a trip to the Dubai Design District and the studio of Arwa Al Banawi. Arwa, a young Saudi-born designer, greeted me with a typical Dubai refreshment, dates, before showing me her collection of urban-tailored streetwear with Arabic influences. Arwa was one of 12 Dubai creatives who customized a Levi’s® Trucker jacket as part of the brand’s celebration efforts. Her jacket reflected regional influences, most notably the red Arabic lettering she applied to the back and the same gold trim used for traditional royal Saudi dress.

The re-opening party drew a crowd of fashion trendsetters, designers and even the U.S. Consul General who joined the ribbon-cutting and opening festivities. Guests watched tailors sewing on patches – like the black and white Dubai batwing I brought home – to their new Trucker jackets as music buzzed in the background. The vintage Levi’s® pieces from the Archives, mounted in glass cases, made a striking display alongside the 12 custom Trucker jackets hanging in the front windows and around the store.

If it’s all about location, location, location, Levi’s® Dubai couldn’t be in a better spot. The mall remains a must-see destination for Dubai locals and visitors alike—and a prime spot for Levi’s® brand shoppers.

Keep up with the LS&Co. Archives and other cool LS&Co. heritage news — follow Tracey on Twitter, @TraceyPanek, and stay tuned to Unzipped!