The uber-trend toward casualization has extended to almost every American institution, making jeans of one sort or another welcome almost anywhere — from fancy restaurants to high-powered business meetings. Even Goldman Sachs recently moved to a “flexible dress code.”
The austere New York Stock Exchange, though, is one of the last holdouts with a strict no-jeans policy for its trading floor.
That policy will be tested severely when Levi, Strauss & Co. goes public, which could happen as soon as next week.
The IPO — Levi’s second — is expected to price the company’s 36.7 million Class A shares being offered at $14 to $16 apiece, valuing the firm at up to $6.17 billion. Levi’s is set to raise $151 million, while selling shareholders would raise $435 million.
Most of the selling shareholders are part of the Haas family, descendants of the founder Levi Strauss. At $16 a share, Mimi Haas — widow of former chief executive officer Peter E. Haas Sr. — has a stake valued at just over $1 billion. She plans to sell six million shares in the offering and will retain 56.9 million shares.
The Haas family will continue to control the company by virtue of its Class B shares, which have superior voting rights.
The process that leads up to an IPO is typically a long and arduous one filled with bankers, paperwork and a good bit of secrecy followed by something of a coming-out party at the stock exchange. Ceo’s from newly listed companies usually ring the opening bell at the exchange, which would leave it to Levi’s ceo Chip Bergh to start the trading on the day the firm goes public again.
Bergh, who’s led the company since 2011 and orchestrated a remarkable turnaround for the brand, usually wears Levi’s jeans, and often a denim jacket.
Neither of those will fly for his big day, though.
According to a 2015 memo from the New York Stock Exchange, the dress code for visitors is “business casual,” but it’s an old-school take on the notion.
“Suit, sport coat or jacket should be worn, but a tie is not required,” the memo says. “A dress, collared golf/polo shirt or turtleneck is acceptable. T‐shirts, tank tops or other casual shirts, jeans and shorts are not acceptable.”
The guidelines for women are about the same if Mimi Haas turns up.
Unless some arrangement is worked out — neither party would comment about the possibility of relaxing the dress code for the day — the Levi’s crew will have to dress up.
Maybe something from the company’s Dockers brand would fly?