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Skinny jeans still a great fit in shrinking economy, Levi CEO says

Jeans trousers are displayed at a Levi Strauss store in New York, U.S., March 19, 2019. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

Reports on the death of skinny jeans have been greatly exaggerated. At least that’s what Levi Strauss & Co boss Chip Bergh wants everyone to believe.

Once a wardrobe staple, skinny jean has recently lost favor among shoppers, especially after the pandemic accelerated a shift toward comfortable clothing like baggy jeans among young consumers.

Top fashion magazines such as Elle and Harper’s Bazaar deemed the style “dead” following the revival of silhouettes including baggy jeans, boot cuts and bell bottoms.

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However, Bergh said the company’s top-selling women’s items were the 311 and the 721 – both skinny jeans – although half of its revenue in the bottoms category in the quarter came from looser and baggier fits.

“The skinny jean is not going anywhere anytime soon,” Bergh said.

“We’re not quite to hip-hugger territory yet, but the mid-rise jean is kind of the hottest item right now. I think we’re going to continue to see the shift from high- to mid- and maybe even mid- to lower rises as we go forward.”

For Levi, its ramped-up efforts to diversify product lines beyond denim, are set to help it weather the dip in demand amid inflation woes.

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“From my vantage point, Levi’s is still a very strong brand. And in times of volatility, like we are seeing today, that’d be a great opportunity for Levi’s to step in and continue to take share,” Bank of America analyst Christopher Nardon said.

The 170-year-old, San Francisco-based company on Wednesday topped fourth-quarter sales and profit expectations, forecast annual sales ahead of Wall Street estimates and projected an improvement in gross margins for 2023. Its shares were up 6% in premarket trading on Thursday.

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