The ups and downs of the jeans business may feel like a roller-coaster ride to smaller firms, but the category’s powerhouses face their own gravitational forces.
Levi Strauss & Co., seven years into a sales slump, has placed its focus firmly on improving profitability. After shopping the Dockers brand for six months, the San Francisco-based company in October said it planned to keep the brand because buyers were unwilling to pay what Levi’s believed it was worth.
As part of the effort to improve performance, the company on Monday said it plans to lay off 50 people at Dockers’ European operations. That will drop Levi Strauss’ worldwide head count below 9,500, compared with 12,300 at the start of the year. Much of the cutting has been the result of restructuring headed by consultants Alvarez & Marsal, who have been advising the company for the past year, people familiar with the situation said.
On the women’s side, Levi’s officials said the brand has been performing well. When the company reported third-quarter results, Robert Hanson, president of the Levi’s brand in North America, said sales of misses’ products were up 21 percent in the quarter, with junior jeans sales rising 6 percent, driven by strong demand for boot-cut, flared and tinted jeans. That partly offset softness in the core men’s business and helped leave overall sales for the nine months ended August up 0.8 percent to $2.92 billion.
Meanwhile, VF Corp. has seen its jeans business slip in recent months. With a lineup including the Wrangler and Lee brands, VF is the world’s largest apparel company and sells almost $2.7 billion worth of jeanswear a year. Through the three months ended Oct. 2, jeans sales slipped 0.8 percent, though the company said it expected to reverse that trend through some product introductions.
The Lee brand has been pushing its “One True Fit” styling, which Terry Lay, the chairman of the firm’s jeanswear coalition, said is “targeted at a missy consumer who still has a junior attitude.”
VF also has been expanding its presence in the high-end jeans market through the launch of the premium-priced Wrangler 47 line, designed by Wendy Mullins, and the acquisition of Earl Jean.Acquisitions are also the core of VF’s overall growth strategy. The company is on track to hit the $6 billion sales mark this year, a 15 percent rise from 2003. The growth has been boosted by the addition of the Vans, Napapijri and Kipling brands over the past year.
Breaking News: @louisvuitton's men's artistic director @mrkimjones is leaving the French fashion house after nearly 7 years. Jones joined Louis Vuitton in 2011, following a three year tenure as creative director of British luxury goods brand Alfred Dunhill. Jones is to exit Louis Vuitton after showing his fall 2018 collection for the brand in Paris on Thursday. Read the full exclusive story on WWD.com. Link in bio. #wwdnews #wwdfashion
For men’s fall 2018, @giuseppezanotti drew on elements from streetwear, sport, biker, combat and rock ‘n’ roll. Pictured here are a pair of shoes from the collection, featuring zippers, rhinestones, and silver hardware. Head to WWD.com to see a roundup of the accessories from Milan’s men’s fall 2018 shows. #wwdfashion (📷: Andrea Delb)
To celebrate the 25th anniversary of @ralphlauren’s snowboarding collection, the brand is mining its archives. The iconic brand is reintroducing vintage styles and dropping new designs for a color capsule that will be available in Ralph Lauren stores and @openingceremony on January 25. The capsule will consist of 10 pieces, including the Snow Beach Pullover, pictured here, which is a collector’s item that rapper Raekwon wore in Wu-Tang Clan’s “Can It Be All So Simple” video. #wwdfashion (📷: Tom Gould)
For @rochasofficial’s pre-fall 2018 collection, creative director Alessandro Dell’Acqua channeled the sophisticated and intriguing Catherine Denevue in the film “Belle de Jour.” Polished collarless coats, midi skirts, suits and ’60s graphic motifs were all featured in the collection, adding a sense of discreet luxury. See the rest of the photos on WWD.com #wwdfashion
“We tried to produce clothing of that couture quality, but the most daunting part was that we only had a matter of days [to do it],” said costume designer Lou Eyrich, who recreated Gianni Versace’s iconic looks for @americancrimestoryfx. Eyrich searched online retailers and vintage shops for original pieces from the design house and for @penelopecruzoficial, who plays Donatella Versace. Head to WWD.com to read how she created the Versace world. #wwdfashion
Only three months after her stellar debut catwalk season, @kaiagerber has inked her first big design collaboration –– with @karllagerfeld. The collection blends Lagerfeld’s Parisian chic aesthetic and the model’s signature West Coast casual style via RTW, accessories, footwear and more. The #KarlLagerfeldxKaia collection will launch in September with a series of events. Get all the details on WWD.com. #wwdnews #wwdfashion
Harrods plans to remove the famous statue of Princess Diana and Dodi Al Fayed from the bottom of the Egyptian escalators and hand it back to Mohamed Al-Fayed. “We are very proud to have played our role in celebrating the lives of Diana, Princess of Wales and Dodi Al Fayed at Harrods and to have welcomed people from around the world to visit the memorial for the past 20 years,” said Michael Ward, Harrods managing director. “With the announcement of the new official memorial statue to Diana, Princess of Wales at Kensington Palace, we feel that the time is right to return this memorial to Mr. Al Fayed and for the public to be invited to pay their respects at the palace.” More on the news, with reporting by @loreleimarfil, at WWD.com. #wwdnews