Levi's CEO admits the company is 'scrambling'

Levi’s CEO has admitted that the company is threatened by the athleisure trend of wearing yoga pants, Bloomberg reports.

“We’re scrambling,” Bloomberg notes CEO Chip Bergh told analysts last year. “I mean, there is a big difference between the product that we’ve got on the floor today and what the consumer is looking for. And we just flat-out missed it.”

That trend is yoga pants — a style made iconic by Lululemon. Since then, retailers ranging from Macy’s to Gap have started pushing the comfortable product.

Bloomberg reports that Levi’s, which is the world’s most iconic denim company, stuck to its core product instead of adapting to consumer trends.

As a result, this has cost the company. Bloomberg notes sales have dipped from over $US7 billion to $US4.8 billion over the years.

“As we saw ‘casualization’ continue even further, the customer basically told us that they had enough denim until something really unique and innovative came along,'” NPD analyst Marshal Cohen told Bloomberg. “We really saw the denim industry and denim retailers basically turn their nose up on the customer and say, ‘We don’t care what you really want, we’re going to tell you what you want.'”

The revelation that the rise of athleisure is hurting the denim industry is not a new one.

Last year, the retailer attempted to make their jeans more comfortable to fall in line with the popularity of yoga pants.

Earlier this month, The New York Times reported that Levi’s was responding to increasing demands from women to have stretchier jeans. Chief product officer Karyn Hillman told the Times that “the one comment that came up in every interview was that fabric and feeling is now as important as fit…Five or even three years ago, that wasn’t true.”

So far, the efforts to appeal to what women want seem to be paying off. Bloomberg reported that one 25-year-old shopper was “surprised” by how well the 712 slim cut jeans fit her. “They fit nice, and they’re comfortable,” she said.

The company is still the fifth biggest apparel company in the United States, amassing $US4.8 billion in revenue in the most recent fiscal year.

The Economist notes that in its heyday in the 90’s, the apparel company could account for nearly $US8 billion in revenue.

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