What happens when the U.S.’s largest apparel manufacturer misses a major trend and then realizes that it is a new norm? You are left in a state that Levi’s now faces. The now well-documented athleisure category—which we’ve been very bullish on for over 2 years—is no longer a passing trend but becoming a new normal as Americans demand comfort, versatility and movement. This is also simply the latest evolution in the casualization of American apparel. Today, it is becoming acceptable to see clothing in the workplace that was designed for the yoga studio.
To be fair, Levi’s has not been stagnant. They have invested in product innovation with the cyclist-designed, bicycle-friendly commuter denim that combines reflective tape, stretch and a higher waist band that prevents unwanted butt reveals while cycling; and there’s the Revel line that promises to “lift, lengthen and refine your silhouette.” While Levi’s claims that denim is still the dominant category for bottoms at 40% of total sales, it is trending down, and among key demographics, it is trending down faster.
What we have observed in store checks is that the athleisure trend continues to drive business and after years of not having anything to compete directly with the yoga pant, management at Levi’s now admits that it needs to play catch up. The question we ask is that with a brand so tied to denim, how they implement will be key convincing customers that there is an authenticity to the athletic part of athleisure. In this environment, brands such as Lululemon and Under Armor have a distinct advantage.
We continue to track the athleisure trend and how it impacts established and emerging brands across categories. To understand how demand drivers affect your goals, please contact us for more information on our custom research and insights.
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