Fashion trends come and go, but denim isn’t going anywhere.
Today, the US Apparel industry is a huge and vastly diverse industry – according to The NPD Group*, it’s a growing $222 billion market with a lot of opportunity and choices for consumers. And despite the much-hyped rivalry between denim and athleisure, jeans continue to corner almost 40 percent share of total bottoms – and this is a massive market with more than enough room for both to thrive. And there’s also plenty of room to grow: the denim category is actually gaining ground with younger consumers, especially women, as jeans dollar volume is up 7 percent among female consumers ages 25-34.
So, how does a denim leader like Levi’s® not only capitalize on those figures, but differentiate itself in a crowded market? For the Levi’s® brand, it starts with an iconic reputation. We invented jeans, and we have spent decades focused to the point of obsession on meeting the fit and style needs of our consumers. But if we’re rooted in our heritage, we’ve always got an eye toward the future, and are constantly innovating to keep things fresh and relevant for the next generation of Levi’s® lovers.
“We put a lot of energy into creating the best fit, the most innovative and comfortable stretch fabrics, and blend our heritage and our DNA into everything that we do,” said Jill Guenza, vice president of Women’s Design for the Levi’s® brand. “So, there is magic in how all of those components come together. We’re using our heritage to inspire ourselves and create really amazing fits that remind us of the past but are very current, modern and on trend right now.”
Since its relaunch in 2015, the Levi’s® women’s business has grown revenue for 12 consecutive quarters, fueled by the continued success of the 700-series skinny jeans. The brand’s focus is on innovating the category, putting consumers first and delivering on what they want and need today and in the future.
“Our maniacal focus on fabric innovation and fit is really what sets us apart from the competition,” Jill said.
A large part of this work happens at Levi Strauss & Co.’s Eureka Innovation Lab in San Francisco, where the innovation team works closely with designers to give consumers the iconic Levi’s® look, while incorporating the latest fabric and fit innovation from around the globe and across industries. This approach is what drives Jill and her team to create the very best in denim.
“I can’t speak to what others are doing or not doing, I can only speak to the passion and intensity that we bring to the product that we design,” she said.
Along with the strong execution of the store teams who bring the brand to life, Jill also credits ongoing collaborations with those like Virgil Abloh and Supreme for putting the brand at the center of culture.
The team at Eukea has also been continuing to innovate for the future with the recently launched Project F.L.X., a new operating model that uses laser technology in new ways to finish jeans later in the process and dramatically reduce time to market, without compromising quality or authenticity and significantly decreasing the environmental impact.
For Jill and the design team, the key to success is to be one step ahead. “It’s about staying focused on what’s happening next. We really try to maintain a finger on the pulse of what’s happening to be able to translate that into a covetable product that every woman wants to wear.”
*Source: The NPD Group, Consumer Tracking Service, U.S. Dollar Sales, 12ME June 2018.