Inside, there is denim everywhere. Jeans hang from hooks on the wall and lie in tidy grids on the concrete floor. They are draped over metal railings and across wooden tables. It is difficult to walk more than 10 feet without stepping over at least one pair of the iconic American creation, responsible for a global market that researcher Euromonitor predicts will be worth nearly $143bn next year.
Levi’s Eureka Lab is, as its name suggests, committed to research and development for the privately held company, which counted $4.9bn in revenue in 2017 and leads the world in jean sales. Indeed, much of the denim on display in the lab is in the form of prototypes for styles not yet in market. But the latest innovation to emerge from this facility isn’t a clever take on cut or color (though fashion mavens, it’s worth noting that the wide leg is back in style). It’s an entirely new operating model that further automates the jean-making process by eliminating many manual techniques and dramatically reducing the number of chemicals necessary to create the faded and worn finishes that many denim-wearers love. The key tools to this process? Software and lasers. The result: A complete overhaul in the way Levi designs, makes, and sells its signature stuff.
“It’s a total transformation of our operating model,” says Liz O’Neill, Levi’s chief supply chain officer. “An end-to-end digital environment that has huge implications for manufacturing, inventory management, sustainability, and ultimately how we sell.”
Timely, incisive articles delivered directly to your inbox.