The reinvention of Levi’s: Staying cool for over a century

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If there was ever a fashion brand that appeals to multiple generations at the same time, Levi’s takes the trophy. After over a century, the brand somehow manages to be cool and innovative while at the same time vintage and iconic. Joining Retail Gets Real in his favorite pair of jeans and a new denim jacket that’s far more high-tech than it looks, Levi’s Brand President James ‘JC’ Curleigh is the ultimate poster boy for the brand. On this episode, Curleigh explains how the company works to reposition the Levi’s brand.

Shop.org 2018

Get more insights from Levi's at Shop.org 2018, to be held Sept. 12-14 in Las Vegas, from Levi Strauss & Co. EVP and President of Global eCommerce Marc Rosen. Learn more.

When Curleigh first took on the task of reinventing the century-old brand, the challenge came from fast fashion, private labels and premium brands. “We’re not a fast fashion brand,” Curleigh says. For Levi’s, the core fan base was the customer who “knows us, loves us and never left us,” he says, so Levi’s focused on the quality of the product — the material, the finish, the style and the fit — and developed a marketing platform that is so authentically Levi’s that it resonated with customers.

That’s not to say Levi’s isn’t trying new things every day. As Curleigh explains it, the strategic balance is to keep the core customer in mind and preserve the brand’s authenticity. The company brought back vintage styles with modernized fits without alienating legacy fans, at the same time appealing to the “lapsed fan” — someone who grew up with other choices and may have left to try other denim and lifestyle brands but was convinced to return to Levi’s — as well as the future fan.

JC Curleigh (middle) wore Levi's new denim jacket to chat with Jen Overstreet (right) and Bill Thorne (left).

JC Curleigh (middle) wore Levi's new denim jacket to chat with Jen Overstreet (right) and Bill Thorne (left).

Listen to the end of the episode for a demo of Curleigh’s smart jacket made in collaboration with Google, and learn more about Levi’s vision of the future by watching an excerpt of Curleigh’s popular keynote at NRF 2018: Retail’s Big Show.

Want to learn more about the leadership behind this iconic brand? Hear Levi Strauss & Co. EVP and President of Global eCommerce Marc Rosen speak at Shop.org 2018 in Las Vegas. Learn more about the show and register.

Jennifer Overstreet is a co-host on NRF’s Retail Gets Real podcast. Meet all the co-hosts and learn more about the show.