Levi Strauss finds Asian success

13 April 2011

SHANGHAI: Levi Strauss is planning to bring its Denizen jeans line to the US, following a successful launch in the Asia-Pacific region.

The Financial Times reports that the jeans will be sold in Target, a budget retailer, at between $20-30 (€14-21, £12-18).

This comparatively low price point could be a good fit with the US consumer - the world's largest economy suffered a severe recession in 2008-09, and unemployment is still at just under 9%.

But Denizen president Aaron Boey said that customers would not see buying the brand as a compromise.

"It's not about taking costs out, it's about deciding what costs to put in to deliver the value that consumers appreciate," he said.

"We've gotten that validation in the markets we're currently operating in."

Also speaking to the Financial Times, Hong Kong-based retail analyst Torsten Stocker said: "If launching a 'value brand' for emerging markets forced Levi to really think about what matters to consumers in jeans, and they incorporate that into how they make, market and sell them, the principles are just as valid in the US as they are in China."

Denizen - combining the words "denim" and "zen" - was launched in Shanghai, China in 2010, and is the first Levis brand ever to be launched outside of the US.

The jeans, which cost $40-60 in China, are now sold at over 150 specialist outlets across the Asia Pacific region.

Speaking to the Wall Street Journal at the time, Terence Tsang, senior vice president of the Denizen brand, said: "We're right between the premium and the masses."

Levis has broadened its Chinese operations over recent years, and now operates a virtual store on Taobao Mall - a local e-commerce site - with shoppers able to purchase 200 of the firm's products online.

Other western advertisers to launch specialist lines for the Chinese market recently include Hermès, with its Shang Xia range of furniture and jewellery, and BMW with its limited-edition version of its M3, the Tiger.

According to data from McKinsey, Chinese consumer spending will rise to $2.3tn by 2025, which would make China the world's third-largest retail market.

Data sourced from Financial Times/Wall Street Journal/Warc; additional content by Warc staff