Diana S. Dimitian, Levi Strauss vice president for Southern Europe and general manager, recently explained where Levi’s is standing right now and its plans for growth.
In 2018 Levi Strauss & Co.’s net revenues were $5.6 billion (14% more than in 2017). These results were achieved by selling in more than 110 countries worldwide through a combination of chain retailers, department stores, online sites and approximately 3,000 retail stores and shop-in-shops globally. Among territories that performed best there was Europe whose net revenues grew 25% when compared with 2017 reaching over $1.6 billion, followed by the Americas where they grew 10% with over $3 billion, and Asia where they grew 8% registering about $890 million.
Why did Europe grow so much?
Europe is an important and constantly growing region: in the third quarter of 2019 it registered +18% on a constant currency basis and it’s the region has been growing for the 13th quarter in a row.
In Europe, we developed our retail network at an unbelievable rhythm. Between 2015 and 2018, we have opened 258 stores. If we take a closer look, we opened 71 new stores in 2018 alone–more than one store a week. We have also opened Levi’s shop-in-shops within larger locations like department stores, refits that include refurbishing or renovation of current locations and relocation of stores, totaling 153 retail projects throughout 2018.
In 2019, we have also focused on Italy where we opened nine new stores: Venice in February, Milan in May and Rome in October. In this country, where we are running a total of 52 stores, we continue to evolve our store formats and experiences. The Milan store is very special as it is the first one expressing a new global concept and it’s also a pilot store where we are testing concepts and learn. In that store you can also find our Tailor Shop where you can customize your jeans but also repair them.
In October, we just launched the Levi's Trucker Jacket Jacquard by Google, a denim jacket though which you can answer calls, play music and take photos right from your sleeve. This model is sold in our main markets in Europe.
We also launched our Levi’s Wellthread x Outerknown collection. In s/s 2019, we were the first apparel company to bring cottonized hemp garments to the market in this collection. Through an innovative process, the hemp fiber is transformed to become soft and cotton-like, enabling us to use more hemp, a generally less water- and chemical-intensive crop than cotton, while delivering the same look and feel that our consumers expect. Our hemp crops are rain-fed, making it water friendly with fewer chemicals. For f/w 2019, we have successfully integrated traditional indigo dyeing into the process, allowing, for the first time, a Levi’s blue cottonized hemp denim.
We also keep developing our Waterless technique in the finishing process to decrease significantly the water required. Currently 67% of our products are Waterless and our target is to reach 80% by 2020. As a group we aim to halve our water consumption by 2025.
Since mid-October, we launched the customization of products on our website Levi.com. You can now customize T-shirts, hoodies, trucker jackets and tote bags. This offer is complementary to our 250 Tailor Shops and print bars that we have in our stores in Europe.
We are also present at events where customers can customize their favorite pieces of denim, such as music festivals. Our Tailor Shop on tour was present, for example, this year at Home Festival in Venice.
Can consumers also personalize their jeans?
Levi’s is putting the power of personalization directly into consumers’ hands by way of their personal devices. We did it by introducing Future Finish, a new online customization experience available on levi.com for the US market only. This latest state-of-the-art advancement uses the proprietary laser-powered technology developed through our Project F.L.X. to digitize the design and development of denim finishing.
Consumers can choose an iconic Levi’s fit–501 Original and 502 Taper for men, 501 Short and 721 Skinny for women–in a lighter or darker denim wash, select from three different tints (midnight, black or rose), six patterns (natural worn, bandana, logo, camo or leopard), and add wear (rips or distressing). You can also swap your leather back patch with six different color options–blue, yellow, orange, pink, green or our traditional leather. With over 3,400 possible permutations, you can truly make it your own.
This is a pilot project and is currently only available online in the US. We will decide if we may launch it in other regions in the future.
We focus our efforts on reducing our impact in four key material areas: water, chemicals, carbon and people.
We embrace responsible environmental practices across the company, and we’re dedicated to enabling changemakers both inside and outside the industry who are equally passionate about the environment. Among the actions we take: launching innovative industry-leading water management strategies throughout our global supply chain, combating climate change by being the first apparel company to set emissions targets based on a 1.5-degree temperature rise scenario, implementing new technologies that dramatically reduce the amount of chemicals needed to finish jeans, and training our employees to be effective advocates for responsible water stewardship in their own communities.
As we know we cannot do this by ourselves, we open source our techniques and we work with others–brands, vendors, NGOs, and local governments–to drive collective action leading to even greater impact and more sustainable policies and practices.