Levi’s Made & Crafted – Designing Tomorrow’s Denim Classics

Over 140 years ago, Levi Strauss invented a simple blue jean that would forever change the way the world dressed. Levi’s® Made & Crafted® builds on this legacy by designing tomorrow’s classics using today’s best materials and construction techniques.

Since its inception in 2013, Levi’s Made & Crafted has come to represent the perfect marriage of the history of Levi’s and modern style. The premium collection is rich with elevated details, artful construction and historical Levi’s influences that play out in often unexpected ways. As denim’s position in fashion has evolved over recent years, Levi’s Made & Crafted has come to embody everything good about what a modern clothing label should be: it’s authentic, has a strong point of view and it nicely considers both the old and the new.

Working as Design Directors at Levi’s® Made & Crafted, Nic Rendic and Nicolle Arbour have the rare privilege of working with and reimagining Levi’s most iconic pieces from its vast archive. The pair are tasked with the challenge of keeping the iconic brand fresh and culturally relevant in an already saturated denim market denim market. Here, Nic and Nicolle share their perspectives on the present cultural climate as well as designing for Levi’s in our latest interview:

How does the Levi’s Made & Crafted collection align the Levi’s brand with the current culture of today?

Over 140 years ago, Levi Strauss invented a simple blue jean that would forever change the way America, and the rest of the world, dressed. Levi’s® Made and Crafted™ builds on this legacy by designing tomorrow’s classics using today’s best materials and construction techniques. We focus on artful construction and elevated details while keeping our Levi’s® DNA at the heart of our design ethos.

Levi’s® Made & Crafted is the modern expression of the Levi’s® brand. We can push the creative boundaries with Levi’s® Made & Crafted. We experiment and explore new ideas when it comes to design, fabrics and construction techniques. For example, for Fall/Winter 2016 we collaborated with OFF-WHITE c/o Virgil Abloh. The fashion label is rooted in current culture, referencing contemporary trends and tastes – the collaboration was a great chance for us to align with nowadays trends but still stay true to our identity.

There has been an increased interest in denim culture in street style, catwalks over the past few years. How does Levi’s Made & Crafted reflect this movement in regards to consumer trends and lifestyle?

Our Levi’s® Made & Crafted™ consumer is very confident with their personal style and is looking for a brand that can easily fit into their wardrobe, offering timeless pieces made of the most refined fabrics and beloved fits. Reimagining the new classics, we’re keeping up with these lifestyle movements and are also very excited about expressing ourselves more in a fashion forward way. Collaborations offer inspiration, for example inspiration from our collaboration with OFF WHITE spills over into the design inspiration of our core collection. Our creative directors spend a lot of time researching the design inspiration of each collection, including trips around the world as well as sharp attention to what’s happening on the city street catwalks in urban cities.

How does the Levi’s Made & Crafted line differ from the red tab collection?

Levi’s® Made & Crafted™ is a more exaggerated and experimental approach to Levi’s® and we present it in a more differentiated and elevated way. We take a seasonal idea or theme and use it to really explore our icons as well as design new silhouettes which can become tomorrow’s icons.

Who is the Levi’s Made & Crafted customer?

Our customers are confident in knowing what they want and are driven by quality and storytelling. They have their own personal style but are also experimental, and have an eye for detail, quality and craftsmanship. With Levi’s® Made and Crafted they get to curate their wardrobe with confidence and independence.

How does Levi’s Made & Crafted build on the legacy of Levi’s whilst pushing its icons forward in a contemporary direction?

At Levi’s® Made & Crafted™ we always try to create a balance: taking our strong heritage, our classics, and translating them into a modern design vocabulary that results in timeless and contemporary fashion. Our icons represent the soul of Levi’s®, our craftsmanship heritage with a modern expression that elevates the brand through styling, pricing and placement. They highlight the core of our personality: aspirational, sophisticated, contemporary and considered, but always building on our legacy.

What are some of the special fabrics and washes that take the line to the next level?

All of our denim is produced in Turkey by factories that specialize in craftsmanship and quality. Our fabrics are mainly sourced from Italy and Japan. The finishes highlight the authentic heavyweight character, which is balanced by compact lightweight contemporary denim which offers a range of dark indigo to tonal bleach with seasonal repair and panelling. Our women’s denim offer is characterised by the best in diverse stretch and non-stretch fabrics. Authentic styles are executed with a soft feminine slant. For black jeans and rinses we try to keep the integrity of the fabric by using treatments that give a solid quality – while still allowing the garments to be comfortable as they stretch according to the needs of the wearer.

The Levi’s creative teams usually go away on inspiration trips prior to design. Was there a particular place that inspired the S/S 17 collection and how is this translated throughout the collection?

This season, we celebrate Riviera Revolutionaries as the SS17 collection finds inspiration in the culture and rolling hills of Havana, Cuba and its surroundings. Our collection is clearly flavoured by the rich, colourful Caribbean culture and inspiring music of the famous Tropicana Club with hints of the Cuban revolution of 1959. Both soft and distressed textures are paired with premium silk, cotton, and leather to create luxe staples. We’ve used subtle whites, crisp black shades, tropical prints, and pops of red to signify the Cuban influences, but of course, we couldn’t resist retaining hints of blue and indigo to emphasize Levi’s® close roots to our home state of California.

What are some of the key pieces for the season?

One of our favourites for this season is the new Barrel fit for women – a relaxed yet fashionable boyfriend jean available in a cropped and a short version, which can be worn oversized or high-waisted. Its clean bleach look is a nod to vintage models, but definitely channelling a clean and modern feel.  Made from super soft Italian fabric – it’s just like wearing your favourite pair of vintage jeans.

Another highlight is the kick flare jean – it’s a high-rise model with a slight flare that skims the ankles. It’s a very feminine but cool style. This season, we focused on a Nisshinbo fabric from Japan that’s 100% cotton but has amazing mechanical stretch built into the fabric for those that love authentic denim but crave comfort. We played with breezy, Cuban inspired dresses and balanced them with beautifully crafted reworked and pieced denim icons.

For men the Rail Straight is our newest straight fit and must-have for denim purists, with a mid-rise and straight cut from the seat to ankle for exceptional ease and versatility. We explore tropical floral prints and use them in unexpected ways as in our bomber jacket.  We also liven up our trucker assortment with an unexpected geometric pattern in the Exile Trucker. We finish off the look with our Pleated Trouser in a lightweight cotton-linen denim in a loose taper fit.

Can you tell us about the M&C branding with the sunset. It’s an archive image, right?

In Fall 2016, Levi’s® Made and Crafted introduced a new logo and is indeed a modern interpretation of one of our archival sunset logos.  It now represents the premium product line of the Levi’s® soul. Our logo grounds us in our history and reminds us of our legacy as we push to explore new ideas and create new icons. We’ve also added new origin labels inside each one of our newest Levi’s® Made & Crafted™ garments – a flag of the country indicating the fabric’s source, including Japan, Italy and more.

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