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  • Welcome to the Business of Luxury Summit in San Francisco. With me is president of Levi Strauss, James Curleigh.

  • James, business of luxury, jeans, really?

  • Yeah, well, as a president of Levi's brand when I got invited to speak at the luxury summit I said, "I think you got the wrong number."

  • But actually, when I started to think about it, it's shaping the lens of luxury through Levi's.

  • When I started to think, wait a minute, there's something here

  • in terms of craftsmanship, in terms of our iconic heritage past, in terms of what's happening with the vintage market.

  • Our innovations that we're announcing even recently with Google, they're all dimensions of luxury.

  • Maybe not as we knew it yesterday, but as we might know it tomorrow.

  • And you've talked often about the importance of lifestyle brands, and Levi is really representing that.

  • And how does the big 220 million dollars stadium sponsorship deal work in San Francisco, the 49ers football team? Yeah.

  • How does that fit in?

  • Yeah, well it's interesting because essentially every brand is a lifestyle brand.

  • It's a style of someone's life. But we were one of the original lifestyle brands.

  • We set the authentic .... back in the 1870s.

  • I mean all throughout the ages. From gold miners to cowboys to Hollywood Marlon Brando, rebels with or without a cause, rock 'n' roll

  • right through to the entrepreneurs who are now global leaders of companies choose to wear Levi's to work.

  • So with that, we started thinking well, that is lifestyle.

  • But we're seeing the different forces of sports, we're seeing the different forces of fashion come together

  • and we're in that authentic center point, and we thought authentic center point deserves to be in the center of culture.

  • And we believe that through the Levi's stadium deal, it puts us in the center of culture often.

  • Whether it's Super Bowl, Beyonce, Taylor Swift, Grateful Dead, Manchester Barcelona football or future events. We're in the center of culture often.

  • And you've had a, you say a hundred billion hits on Youtube and Google search?

  • Well, I think if you understand now that notion of luxury also comes through not just the products that you covet, but through the experience you have.

  • And I think luxury is defined by an experience and if you look at the ticket price of some concerts today, or the Super Bowl,

  • you can argue that's clearly in the luxury realm.

  • But the experience of innovation and technology today that says I'm in an experience but I'm gonna tell the world,

  • and it's synonymous where you are, which is Levi's stadium, we can actually accelerate and drive awareness of Levi's stadium way beyond just the stadium itself.

  • Now, in the 90s and around the turn of the century, Levi's sales you're beginning to see a little bit of fall off, the rise of premium brands.

  • How did you persuade colleagues to balance this, the need to pay attention, respect the past or go for the innovative future?

  • Well I think that the starting point is always, you know, let's just look at what we have today.

  • We're the world wide leader in denim. We always have been since we invented the 501 in 1873.

  • But we can't take that leadership for granted. And as I mentioned in the conference, we are the world wide leader and there is no clear number two.

  • But there's about 100 number twos around the world.

  • So we have to understand how to look at our iconic past, and if we don't make our heritage matter, who will?

  • So we make that matter. But at the same time, we put a lens of innovation through performance, sustainability, craftsmanship,

  • so that we're bringing solutions around comfort casualization and contemporary style.

  • And you also opened the Eureka Innovation Lab in San Francisco in 2015.

  • What are your plans for that?

  • Well, if you think about the start-up culture, they always start somehow in a garage or somewhere where they're innovating and they're doing things,

  • then we said," let's recreate the conditions for success, for innovation right here in San Francisco California."

  • Proprietary knowledge, materials, proprietary partnerships that lead to better solutions.

  • So the vision there is really, continually invent the future of denim and beyond on a daily basis under our control.

  • And men's wear accounts for around 75% of your overall sales. You are the world's biggest belt reproducer.

  • But how are you gonna win the ladies round?

  • Well, I think, I mean women by definition it's a fashion moving world.

  • Picking out a pair of jeans isn't that easy. But we are the world wide leader in women's denim. It just happens to be much more fragmented, competitive market.

  • Last year, we embarked on a journey to relaunch our entire denim collection, the 700 series, the 710, 711, 712,

  • and it's rapidly becoming the fastest growing part of our women's collection.

  • And we also brought Alicia Keys to give us a little help on the music front.

  • And James, you've played in various rock bands, including in London.

  • Do you have a little song for us at the end?

  • Haha, well you have to end on " You can't always get what you want, but if you try sometime, you just might find. You get what you need. "

  • James Curleigh, thank you so much.

  • Appreciate. Thank you Lionel.

Welcome to the Business of Luxury Summit in San Francisco. With me is president of Levi Strauss, James Curleigh.

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