Learn about Levi Strauss & Co

by Yoeri Khyrian Jonker / posted on 27/08/2015

It forged a new territory called the American West, fought in wars for peace, instigated counter culture revolutions and tore down the Berlin Wall: yes, we’re talking about the Levi’s 501. When Levi Strauss set up a dry goods business in San Francisco in 1853, he started to produce a sturdy pants off of a French twilled cotton called Serge de Nîmes, which served the needs of the local mine workers. And so the jeans were born.

Now the most important thing that Levi’s has done isn’t the invention of the jeans, but how they built a world around one product and kept selling it. First of all, when someone invents something, it’s met with great criticism and normally needs to go through a very critical crowd of early innovators. This product started purely functional, and was only worn by miners; the late majority of society at that moment in time, if you will. Then, 150 years later Levi’s opened the Eureka Innovations Lab. It’s here where we finally find denim in the hands of the early innovators.

The Eureka Lab has already done a lot of work in the last two years, some project that only now have seen the light of day. First thing that comes into mind is their collaboration with the company that has become synonym to innovation: Google. Now it’s fair to say that wearable technology has been a prominent focus within apparel for nearly a decade, but to mesh it with something that everyone has in their closet just by changing the texture slightly is brilliant. Normally if someone would tell a woman that they want to get in her pants, she would throw a drink in their faces. But what Google is trying to do with ‘Project Jacquard is solve problems as small as a lost remote (imagine a denim couch that has a remote embedded in the fabric) to bigger and more ambitious projects like touching the inside of your jeans’ pocket to open your house.

But between that and incredible moment of innovation – where you can expect iPhone level waiting lines for a pair of high tech jeans – and the creation of the brand, we’ve seen a lot of other incredible things. For instance, the way they market their clothing: every year for decades (hey 80ies and 90ies) they would have an incredible commercial that would convince you they’re simply the ONLY brand to buy a decent pair of jeans from. Their Michael Gondry commercial was never aired, because it was too suggestive. They created the official garments for the 1980 and 1984 olympics, and even went real poetic by using Walt Whitman’s work in every commercial in 2009. Their influence went so far that they were included as a holy grail in Gibson’s “Pattern Recognition” and the go to jeans for Hollywood productions (it was the only convincing character in the movie ‘Grease’, for instance).

While most jeans companies just focus on making good jeans, Levi’s already knows that they don’t have to focus on that anymore. They basically don’t have to do anything: even in an age where commercials and social media can sell a brand without actually selling a great product, Levi’s can sell without talking about their product. They don’t have to prove anything, because you know that that has already been done. Only thing left is to create the future of that little blue devil.

P.S. Special thanks to Levi Strauss for causing the birth of The Denim Daily. Without that guy, we would not have existed; it’s like he’s our father.

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Yoeri Khyrian Jonker

Ik wilde op mijn 7e pottenbakker worden. Helaas bleek dat een beetje te ambitieus, dus heb ik gesettled voor een leven als journalist en fotograaf. Loser die ik ben...


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