This week Levi’s previewed their forthcoming S/S 13 Global collection in London’s East End. We met up with Jonathan Kirby, Vice President of Global Men’s Design, for an in-depth tour of the collection.
Set in the vast industrial space of Farringdon’s Farmiloe Building, Levi’s highly conceptualized presentation captured the true spirit of American workwear while nodding to the present. Set throughout a series of vignettes of the former Victorian Glassworks, the installation showcased a comprehensive collection of the Levi’s brand from its humble 501 beginning through the latest innovations of today. Similar to the F/W 12 launch during N.Y. Fashion Week, the S/S 13 presentation showcased the full portfolio of Levi’s entities as a complete collection. This included Levi’s Vintage Clothing, Made & Crafted, Water<Less™, and the Red Tab mainline. Also new for the Summer season was a sneak preview of a forthcoming Liberty of London x Levi’s collaboration that will be launching March 2013. The line will combine Levi’s archive designs with Liberty’s iconic fabrics and patterns. Stay tuned for more details.
Taking the form of sculptural and performance installations, guests were guided through an art gallery-like space where key pieces from each of the key lines were presented. The first room paid tribute to the iconic 501 jean and wearers of the past, present, and future. Presented as a timeline across bulky railway sleepers, the installation showcased the evolution of the pant since its conception in 1890, across decades, through the current models of today. The S/S 13 generation of 501 nods to the pioneering style of the pant, introducing the first ever shrink-to-fit non-denim. Like all that have gone before, this edition had a strong commitment to the original design features, but appropriated for today’s consumer. The main point of difference, along with the fabric, was the retro offbeat shade palette, which gave the pant its most contemporary look yet.
Independent creative entities, LVC and Made & Crafted presented their collections through a series of performance installations that respectively showcased each of their stories. As mentioned in our previous article, “The Miner’s Daughter” was the main theme for LVC. The theme was translated through a conceptualized vision of the miner’s bedroom – walls plastered with a collage of archival posters, a rusted turn-of-the-century bed, and swathes of tattered workwear slung across the room. The models wore some of the key pieces from the collection, including the miner’s beautiful 1870s triple-pleat gingham blouse, and the daughter’s bib dress.
The second strand of the collection, “The Hot Rodder“, featured three cinema screens playing split-screen recordings of a drag car racing through the desert. Models were sharply dressed in 50s and 60s sportswear and retro pieces, like bedford cords, suede truckers, and a reproduction of a 40s Hawaiian shirt.
Made & Crafted took a playful route that recalled a journey through the American West, embracing the spirit of adventure and excitement of exploring new places. Picking up where the F/W collection ended, this range featured a frenzy of colors, prints, and laundries across all categories. The entire ethos of the Made & Crafted range pulled elements of the rich Levi’s heritage and design tenants from its storied archive to curate updated and timeless pieces for the current season. This translated into a playful take on prints like indigo leopard and horse shoe wabash spots on shirts for men, as well as vibrant tie-dye washes for women. A 70s tassel suede trucker was a personal favorite.
The second chapter of Levi’s sustainable design innovation introduced the Waste<Less™ denim collection. Made from post-consumer waste, specifically recycled plastic bottles, and food trays, each product included a minimum of 20 percent post-consumer recycled content. Old-time partners Cone Mills provided the fabric produced from brown beer bottles, green soda bottles, clear water bottles, and black food trays. As you can see from the images, the color of the bottles used added a beautiful undertone to the denim fabric and created a unique finish in the final product. The collection included the 511TM Skinny jean, a new modern-looking 504 straight fit jean, and the iconic Levi’s trucker jacket.
The mainline collection took a surprising turn for S/S 13 presenting a kaleidoscopic of frenzy colors, textures, materials, and shapes. The collection and installation were based around a inspiration from a trip to South India and the spectrum of colors that are celebrated there. During the trip, the team came across a so-called Dye Guru, who partnered with Levi’s to develop an innovative collection of sustainable dye treatments. The result was a plethora of bright technicolors and a warm veggie palette that will no doubt bring a cheerful welcome to Summer. Another notable collection is the quilted blanket women’s line of handcrafted, one-of-a-kind jackets, dresses, and pants. The line was created from vintage Indian blankets, interwoven with modern twills and chambray, and over-dyed in indigo to create unique patterns and textures.