Kohl’s throws back with Levi’s

Photo: Kohl’s/Levi’s
Jul 29, 2022

Kohl’s is teaming up with Levi Strauss to bring back the jean maker’s SilverTab collection that was part of the hip-hop and streetwear aesthetic in the 1990’s.

The Levi’s SilverTab line for men, women and kids offers relaxed and baggy denim looks that the companies say have been “refreshed for a new generation” of consumers. The retailer is looking for the exclusive line, which will be sold in its stores, on its website and on Levis.com, to reinforce Kohl’s as a go-to location for all things Levi’s.

“Over the years, Kohl’s and Levi’s have built an incredible partnership that has brought the brand’s most popular styles and collections to millions of Kohl’s customers across the country,” said Ron Murray, Kohl’s interim chief merchandising officer, in a statement. “The relaunch of the iconic SilverTab collection is an exciting next chapter in our history together, bringing back the denim styles and fits that were worn and loved by a generation, now again more popular than ever. The addition of Levi’s SilverTab is another example of how we are modernizing our portfolio with premium and style-led offerings as part of our strategy to become the retailer of choice for the active and casual lifestyle.”

Loose and baggy fits were the look worn by many teens in the 1990s, often to the consternation of adult authority figures who couldn’t come to grips with pants that seemed as though they might slip to the ground at any moment.

Kohl's throws back with Levi's
Photo: Kohl’s/Levi’s

The new capsule collection being sold by Kohl’s includes “loose and mom-style jeans, overall pants and shorts, and oversized denim jackets, as well as graphic tees, crewneck and fleece hoodies, flannel shirts, bucket hats and leather belts.”

The line is exclusive and available for a limited time in 600 of the retailer’s stores with an expanded selection available online. SilverTab will be available through January 2023 while supplies last.

Kohl’s is hoping the SilverTab line will be a big seller through the back-to-school season. Displays of the merchandise will be located at the front of stores adjacent to the Sephora at Kohl’s shops. The retailer will use “retro-inspired” mannequins and imagery to set the sales mood.

The SilverTab deal is part of Kohl’s plan to elevate the shopping experience in its stores and online. Earlier this month the chain introduced Discover @ Kohl’s, a new merchandising initiative that “curates dozens of emerging, established and diverse-owned brands” to be displayed in 600 of its stores and on Kohls.com. Current Discover @ Kohl’s areas positioned throughout the store will be in place through October.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Does Kohl’s need more branded Levi’s SilverTab-like deals to set itself apart from its apparel category competitors? What role should Kohl’s owned labels play in this environment?

Please practice The RetailWire Golden Rule when submitting your comments.
"I'm always a fan of on-trend collaborations between retailers and DTC brands as long as they are part of a bigger picture strategic vision."
"If Kohl’s and Levi’s can pry kids out of their skinny jeans to revive a 1990s trend, then they deserve any success they get."
"My most immediate question is: would the people shown in the photographs really shop at Kohl’s?"

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16 Comments on "Kohl’s throws back with Levi’s"

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Neil Saunders

My most immediate question is: would the people shown in the photographs really shop at Kohl’s? I think not! And as for elevating the shopping experience — yes, having interesting products and exclusive partnerships helps. However, what would also help is a little love and care for stores that are down-at-heel, feel depressing, and lack any energy. Why do retailers not understand that creating a proposition is a holistic endeavor?

Carol Spieckerman

Denim is an important evergreen category and Levi’s is an iconic if ubiquitous, denim brand. It makes sense for Kohl’s to partner with Levi’s from that perspective. Shoppers likely won’t perceive Silver Tab as a hot exclusive, yet Kohl’s intentional merchandising refinements will give the brand a boost.

Lee Peterson

A bit of a coup for Kohl’s to score interesting versions of a hot brand because, well, they’re NOT. Having said that, this doesn’t seem like a big traffic driver. It’s more of what the Kohl’s brand needs to re-invigorate, but certainly isn’t a silver bullet on its own. But it’s the right track for sure. And as for Levi’s … really? I guess old relationships die slowly. One more chance?

Paula Rosenblum

They don’t need traffic. They keep doing things to increase traffic. They need to convert that traffic to sales.

Liza Amlani

Kohl’s needs more than partnering with Levi’s but it’s a step in the right direction. Rethinking the merchandising strategy to build assortments that connect with consumers is exactly what brands should be doing.

Product is what will bring shoppers into the store and focusing on the right product in the right place at the right time is more important than ever. Retailers are accustomed to restructuring the operating model, but they need to start with their merchandising and go to market strategy. How they go to market, enabling digital tools to drive efficiency + accuracy and reducing skus that don’t perform is a start.

Dave Bruno

If we want to avoid a price race to the bottom, we simply have to differentiate. The two biggest differentiation levers retailers have are experience and assortment. While this Boomer is not in the target demographic for the Silver Tab collection, I nonetheless think Kohl’s new merchandising initiatives have set them on a course for offering assortments that will upgrade their brand perception to a new — and differentiated — level. I applaud the moves and wish them luck.

David Spear

Strong partnerships can drive traffic and offer product differentiation for a store like Kohl’s, which is in desperate need of resuscitation. That said, as much as I like Levi’s, I may be one of the few and so Kohl’s may not get the uplift they’re looking for. Perhaps a newer, hotter product portfolio may work better for Kohl’s.

Melissa Minkow

I’m always a fan of on-trend collaborations between retailers and DTC brands as long as they are part of a bigger picture strategic vision.

Ken Morris

This is a winner, says the guy who has jeans (also called dungarees) older than his kids—who are in their late thirties. Back to the future is the way to go. Kohl’s is reaching various audiences with this Levi’s move, including previous generations who wore similar styles in the past. Jeans have never gone out of style; the legs just become pegged and then morph into bell bottoms. This is a winning strategy. “Exclusive,” “limited time,” and “while supplies last” will never go out of style either!

Jeff Sward

This partnership makes abundant sense. Target pioneered this kind of collaboration with designers and brands many years ago. I think those collaborations had a big role in elevating the perception of the Target brand. But it’s cumulative. An occasional one-off isn’t going to cut it. Kohl’s needs a series of story telling moments. And if they are smart about it, those moments will also be useful in elevating owned brands. Differentiation is absolutely the antidote against the race to the bottom.

Ryan Mathews

Kohl’s needs to find its own voice. If that aligns with deals like that with Levi’s … great. I’m just not sure how many retro Hip Hop shoppers are going to flock to Kohl’s or even how effective the SilverTab line will be anywhere.

Georganne Bender

Baggy jeans have been a fashion trend since 2021, but I haven’t seen a lot of people wearing them. Jeans that are too big, for sure. But the baggy trend, not so much. Still Levi’s knows denim so let’s see what happens.

The good news is that the SilverTab line will be displayed up front, near Sephora, the nicest and neatest part of Kohl’s sales floor.

Everything old IS new again. Mom jeans. Ugh.

Nicola Kinsella

These types of deals are good PR stunts. They get attention, and help forge a deeper link between the two brands in the consumer’s mind. And they could potentially target both retro shoppers who wore the originals, or their kids. Moves like this can help drive new traffic. Let’s hope for Kohl’s sake that traffic converts. As for Kohl’s own labels, they make more money on them, so they should still continue to innovate.

Doug Garnett

Product is one of the small number of foundations of retail health. Without product customers want, well displayed, at “good” prices (whatever those are for the store), and supported by effective store staff, retail cannot succeed.

It’s good to see Kohl’s seek product during a time which is difficult for them. Too often we see retailers dash off after shiny baubles — tech options, innovation theories, or online sales.

Is this a good product direction? I think so. Levi’s has a strong cultural connection whether we specifically love this line or not. The mere idea of bringing back a classic looks good for Kohl’s independent of the specifics.

Rachelle King

If Kohl’s and Levi’s can pry kids out of their skinny jeans to revive a 1990s trend, then they deserve any success they get.

Perhaps these small steps will keep the momentum going for both brands short-term. However, it won’t save either brand from the meaningful longer-term innovation that’s needed on both sides.

Brian Kelly
4 months 2 days ago

Does Levi still have the juice? You know, for Gen Z or Millennials? The people who will wear the brand?
I’m wondering if the problem the big box apparel retailers have is they rely upon a bunch of brands that have passed their expiration date.

Ralph, Tommy, Calvin. Does Levi’s have the juice to fill in for a fashion brand, instead of its golden “basics” role?

Are the parents of these future fashionistas connected to these great grandfather icons?

If the youngsters live on the online-enabled long tail of life searching for a unique identity to reflect their alternative tastes in self expression and celebrating diversity, will they don mass brands?

"I'm always a fan of on-trend collaborations between retailers and DTC brands as long as they are part of a bigger picture strategic vision."
"If Kohl’s and Levi’s can pry kids out of their skinny jeans to revive a 1990s trend, then they deserve any success they get."
"My most immediate question is: would the people shown in the photographs really shop at Kohl’s?"

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