As the iron curtain again shuts out pariah Russia, blowing up global commodity markets, could a lesser known item be added to blackmarket most wanted lists? We’re talking jeans. 👖 No, not Love Island’s ‘denim sausage casings’. The durable white and indigo yarn-woven cloth first crafted in France and Italy, which later formed Levi Strauss’s durable, patented-stitched ‘waist overalls’ in the US, now lucatively mined for big bucks. 🧵 Aka, Levi’s.
This year in March, San Francisco-born Levi Strauss & Co. (LEVI) joined a growing number of companies ripping out of ‘warmongering’ nation, Russia. While it’s been a hot minute since a different cultural war took to the streets, it reminded people of when the ubiquitous ‘Texan trouser’ became a symbol of Soviet dissent; when status symbol Levi’s 501s became an Eastern Bloc traded commodity. Even some of today's house-hoarding boomers were once riveted by the brand as teens, seeking Elvis swagger and James Dean style, becoming part of the 1950s’ denim zeitgeist that built an icon.
Rock ‘n’ roll through history to another turbulent time in history - today - and it seems Levi Strauss has belted in to buck another trend (thankfully not the low rise whale tail 🐋). Despite the jean maker’s stock dropping below the belt, down 36% this year, Levi Strauss rose 4% in after hours trading last week following their strong earnings report. While the company’s net income fell 23%, and admin costs rose 21%, blamed on Russian operation suspension, their revenue was up 15% from the same time in 2021, zipping up US$30 million past analyst expectations. And compared to 2021, sales hiked 17% in the Americas, 3% in Europe and 16% in Asia.
The growth trend has been attributed to the company’s wardrobe staple of tactics, including increased inventory, direct-to-consumer online sales increasing global revenue 3%, and stretching their consumer apparel markets by purchasing Beyond Yoga last year, which - along with Levi’s brand Dockers - grew sales 56% compared to last year. Talking to Barron’s last week, Levi Strauss CFO Harmit Singh said both comfort and style - Levi’s ‘baggier fits’ - are the ‘new normal’ work staple. Yet while allegedly responsible for the ‘de-evolution of man’, he also called fashion pariah, the skinny jean, a ‘classic’. Classic!