PARIS — Levi Strauss & Co. has started to open guerrilla stores in Europe to promote its premium Levi’s Blue line.
The San Francisco-based denim giant inaugurated its first pop-up boutique in Stockholm in February, collaborating with local trendy store Nitty Gritty.
Three similar shops have opened since, including a boutique that launched last week in Antwerp, Belgium, in partnership with local boutique Clinic. Other stores have opened in Amsterdam and Cologne, Germany.
You Nguyen, senior vice president of product for Europe, the Middle East and North Africa, said the stores, which stay open for about three months, are a way to “offer a more personal shopping experience.”
“We like the idea of temporariness,” said Nguyen, who added that by teaming up with local stores, Levi’s reached a more targeted audience. “It seems more creative than a permanent store.”
Nguyen said Levi’s found the pop-up idea particularly suited to the edgier identity it wants to cultivate for the Levi’s Blue line, which was introduced in 2005 as part of the trendier Red Tab line. Blue, with jeans retailing for 130 to 180 euros, or about $205 to $284, is sold in Europe, parts of Asia and Brazil.
“The [pop-up] stores have been commercially successful in the sense that we make consumers aware that Levi’s is more than a casual five-pocket brand,” Nguyen said. “We’ve seen a positive impact on the core brand sold around the pop-up units.”
Nguyen said Levi’s marketed the stores by concentrating on local press and word of mouth. It has done collaborations, including jewelry with local designers, to give personality to the stores. In the Cologne store, for instance, Levi’s invited artists to decorate the walls. The Antwerp unit is decorated with piles of old guitars and parking meters.
“We want the stores to feel like a creative collective,” Nguyen said.
Though the concept is only in Europe for now, Nguyen pointed out that Levi’s has done similar operations in the U.S., where the company has turned a college dorm room into a temporary shop. Nguyen said the only drawback to the concept was that it was difficult to know exactly when the next store would open because securing a space is done at the last minute.
This story first appeared in the March 27, 2008 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
“We’re looking in Paris right now,” he said.