NRF 2015: Levi’s Brand President Calls for a Retail Revolution


Levi's 501 CT custom taper women

Levi’s invented blue jeans and it’s still the world’s denim leader, but with increased competition, the old-schooler is looking to boost its brand (and sex) appeal with youths. One solution: skinnier jeans by offering custom tapered 501s, a new feature it’s just starting to promote in response to consumer demand. 

As brand president James Curleigh told the US National Retail Federation trade show this week, Levi’s wants you back, and it’s listening.

“You love us, but you left us … something influenced you to leave us, and our challenge is to get you back,” he told NRF Big Show attendees in New York during his keynote address, admitting what keeps him up at night is how to keep a 160-year-old brand relevant in 2015. 

Or as Curleigh put it (after singing a few lines from The Beatles’ Revolution), “Making icons matters, but you have to continue to innovate.”[more]

So how is Levi’s starting its own revolution? With personalization and digital a big theme at NRF 2015 this week, Levis Strauss & Co., is building out its omnichannel team to accomplish just that.

“I feel like I joined a start-up inside a really big sophisticated company,” said Beth Gumm, recently named VP marketing and global e-commerce, in a Levi’s blog post.

“I’m ready to help LS&Co. be on the leading edge of moving the consumer to action — reading results and using e-commerce as an innovation and a learning engine across the whole organization.”

Making omnichannel feel personal and relevant, as well as not only on-trend but ahead of the curve, is a big opportunity for Levi’s. “The meeting place between online and brick and mortar is going to be what the consumer wants in terms of convenience and shipping options,” said Anisa Kumar, senior director of supply chain for LS&Co.

As for how it’s rolling out the new Levi’s 501 CT (Customized & Tapered) jeans, Levi’s Style Director Kaede Matsumoto demonstrates the leaner styling for women:

and for men:

“The consumer is looking for technology,” comments Neil Bell, Levi Strauss & Co’s global fabric innovation manager. “They’re looking for stories and something exciting within their product. They expect us to provide that innovation. And here at LS&Co., we are always at the breakthrough point.” 

Levi’s now finds itself at the intersection of old and new, striving to maintain a well-established brand and cultivate new fans, a generation raised on multiple choice, on demand availability via digital channels—and the well-honed ability to vote on brands with their discretionary dollars.