Levi's, officially known as Levi Strauss & Co., is an iconic American clothing brand known for its denim jeans. Over the past decades, Levi's has seen a dynamic transformation marked by strategic moves to adapt to changing market trends and business realities.
In the mid-1990s, the brand enjoyed peak performance, but declining sales over the following years forced it to explore new avenues for profitability. A major shift was the decision to offshore production to developing countries like Bangladesh, China, India, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, and Indonesia, primarily to reduce costs and take advantage of cheaper labor and materials. This move was in line with a wider trend among US firms driven by globalization12.
However, more recently, Levi's, along with many other American companies, has started to reverse this trend, reshoring some of its production back to the United States. This reshoring trend has been spurred by several factors, such as supply chain disruptions due to the global pandemic, insufficient production capacity abroad, and a fast upswing in the US economy that has made domestic production more appealing. This shift is not without its challenges, as companies face hurdles such as higher domestic manufacturing costs and a labor market shaken by what's been called "the great resignation"1.
For Levi's, this reshoring process has involved resuming production of some of its higher-end, more expensive styles of jeans in the US2. Amid this transition, Levi's has been reinventing itself by embracing sustainability, technological innovations, and new market opportunities. For instance, it has developed waterless manufacturing techniques, making it one of the most sustainable brands of jeans when it comes to water usage2. It has also ventured into new product lines such as high-end jackets and workwear, smart apparel developed in partnership with Google, and even activewear through the acquisition of Beyond Yoga2.
For Levi's, this reshoring process has involved resuming production of some of its higher-end, more expensive styles of jeans in the US. Amid this transition, Levi's has been reinventing itself by embracing sustainability, technological innovations, and new market opportunities.
In addition to reshoring and product diversification, Levi's has been pushing forward with initiatives to reduce its environmental impact, such as replacing chemical usage with lasers in jeans design and launching a campaign to recycle old pairs of jeans into more denim2.
The evolution of Levi's over the past decades is a tale of a brand that has navigated through changing market conditions, shifting production strategies, and emerging consumer demands. Through it all, Levi's has demonstrated its ability to adapt, innovate, and stay true to its commitment to sustainability and quality.