“Hopefully, [Levi’s] will be smart enough to pull back once it reaches too much of a critical mass,” said Quynh Mai, founder and CEO of digital marketing agency Moving Image & Content. “Once it goes too far and they can’t control their own success, they start ostracising tastemakers and influencers.”
LONDON, United Kingdom — The Levi’s batwing logo can be seen on T-shirts worn by pre-teens, young adults and seniors of every race and gender in New York, Berlin and Mumbai. The denim brand estimates it sells one T-shirt every second. “They’re an established brand and they’re cool as shit,” said Sam Slegg, 24, sporting a blue batwing on his chest on a recent Saturday afternoon while riding the London Underground’s Victoria Line. “I think they market themselves well and I just like them — their jeans are good, they’re quality and it’s a nice T-shirt.”
The increasingly ubiquitous logo is a physical manifestation of Levi Strauss & Co.’s recovery from its “lost generation” — the in-house term for the period in the early 2000s when consumers abandoned the brand for fast-fashion rivals. Under Chip Bergh, who took over as chief executive in 2011, Levi’s prospects have soared, with revenue increasing 14 percent to $5.6 billion in 2018 from the year before. In March, Levi’s went public on the New York Stock Exchange, valuing the company at $8.1 billion.
The company’s second-quarter earnings, released earlier this week, went down 21 percent from the year prior to 17 cents per share, but it was the result of a short-term hit from $29 million in costs associated with going public and investing in company growth. That growth has come largely by relying less heavily on men’s jeans, by far the brand’s biggest seller throughout its 166-year history. In the last three fiscal years, sales doubled for tops, from denim jackets to graphic T-shirts, surpassing $1 billion for the first time in 2018.