Is Target and Levi’s expanding partnership a win-win?
Target plans to expand the availability of its selection of Levi’s premium Red Tab jeans from 500 stores to 800 this spring in a bid to amplify its “status as your favorite denim destination.”
The retailer’s relationship with Levi’s began in 2011 with the introduction of the Denizen value-jean, now in nearly 1,500 of its 2,000 stores. In 2019, Target introduced Levi’s Red Tab 501, 505 and 511 styles to 50 stores near college campuses and urban centers and has expanded over the several seasons to reach 500 last fall. Prices on the Red Tab range from $59.99 to $69.99.
The latest expansion brings Target’s Levi’s offering to more than 180 pieces, including tops, dresses, jeans and jackets.
On its fourth-quarter analyst call in early March, Christina Hennington, Target’s EVP and chief growth officer, said the discounter’s expanding Levi’s partnership, along with the recent introduction of private labels Universal Thread and Goodfellow, is “bringing us from a retailer that sold denim to a denim destination, having grown sales in this category by more than $150 million since 2019.”
Target also counts its frequent designer collaborations as well as Disney, Apple and Ulta Beauty in-store shops as key traffic drivers.
For Levi’s, the move continues the shift from its department store roots. Budget-priced Levi’s jeans first arrived at Walmart in 2002. Levi’s also has a goal to expand direct-to-consumer to 60 percent of revenues by 2030, from nearly 40 percent in 2020 and 20 percent in 2011.
Many other stores also claim to be denim destinations, including Kohl’s, American Eagle, Guess and Madewell over the past year.
The jeans category made a strong comeback during the pandemic. On its fourth-quarter conference call in January, Levi’s CEO Chip Bergh said the category has benefited from the continued acceleration of the casualization trend, expanding waist sizes over the pandemic that prompt wardrobe updates and a new denim cycle led by looser, baggier fits.
Said Mr. Bergh, “The last big cycle was skinny jeans, which is a women’s only thing, and the new denim cycle drives apparel widely, it drives footwear, it drives tops as well. So I’m optimistic for that reason.”
- Levi’s is Expanding *Again* So You Can Find the Perfect Pair (and More) in 800 Target Stores – Target
- Target and Levi’s partnership is getting more serious. – Women’s Wear Daily
- Target (TGT) Q4 2021 Earnings Call Transcript – The Motley Fool
- Levi Strauss & Co. (LEVI) CEO Chip Bergh on Q4 2021 Results – Earnings Call Transcript – Seeking Alpha
- It’s Official: Skinny Jeans Are Out, Wide-Leg Denim Is In – Adweek
- The factors driving denim’s recovery – Drapers
- Another Factor Behind Denim’s Comeback? Pandemic Weight Gain – Sourcing Journal
- Is it a stretch for Target to carry Levi’s pricier red tab jeans? – RetailWire
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Would capturing a reputation as a go-to place for denim be a huge competitive win for Target? Does Levi’s lose any brand equity with its further expansion at Target and other discounters?