Yet difficult only begins to describe Levi’s business today, after it failed to exploit the designer denim boom in what is widely regarded as one of the biggest debacles in the American clothing business. Levi’s sales have plummeted more than 40 percent since 1996 to $4.1 billion, forcing it to close dozens of factories and lay off nearly half of its workforce, or 7,600 employees, in the last five years.
The clothing company faced two major problems over the last decade. Its image and brand — button fly, rugged, and all-around bad-boy cool — was largely built for men, its jeans cut boxy and loose- fitting. At the same time, the company, which once distributed its jeans largely through department stores catering to the rich, had shifted into lower-priced retailers like J.C. Penney, Sears and Wal-Mart.
More mainstream denim coverage
Earlier this month, the coverage of SelfEdge in the SF Chronicle and today, a summary of the Levi's lawsuit in the NY Times. With not a single mention of any of the Japanese repro companies, or even that they were targets of the suit.