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Why Levi's Is Betting on a Eureka Moment

The oldest denim brand in the world is trying to act like the next great startup.

Levi's/Facebook
Levi's/Facebook

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Levi's has a problem. The once-dominant American denim brand is battling competitors from every angle. Cheaper, pricier, stiffer, softer— you name it, there's an option. But the San Francisco company is taking a scrappy attitude toward its market position. "We're innovating sustainable solutions. We're looking into performance denim. We're exploring craftsmanship; attention to the tailoring details. We're innovating style solutions off our Eureka platform, which is what a start-up would do," James Curleigh, Levi's global president of brand, tells the Business of Fashion.

The Eureka platform is Levi's Eureka Innovation Lab in Telegraph Hill, where technicians can turn out about 30 prototypes per week. Eureka's success stories include the new 501CT, the slimming Revel jeans and the reflective, cyclist-focused Commuter series. Instead of waiting for customers to return to their five-oh-favorites when hit with nostalgia, the company is constantly developing and testing new products to reassert its dominance over domestic denim.

BOF notes that some of the Eureka technicians' arms have turned blue from working with the indigo used to dye jeans. If you want to see the next big thing to come out of Levi's, just hang out in Telegraph Hill and follow the blue-armed workers to their secret lab.