Maurizio Donadi; photo by Will Robb
20 Sep. 2010
Q&A: Maurizio Donadi on the global dna of Levi’s Vintage ClothingSportswear International talked to Maurizio Donadi, head of the Levi's XX division, about how Levi's Vintage Clothing is becoming more and more global and how the company is changing from a marketing driven company to a product driven company. By Paul McInnes
You previously worked for Ralph Lauren as well as brands like Benetton, Diesel and Armani. Why did you accept the job at Levi’s and which challenges do you expect in this position?
It gave me the opportunity to express completely 30 years that I have accumulated in this business. It felt like mother called when the Levi position came up. I have always appreciated and loved Levi’s. It has all the history and the challenges of being with a big company. How do you stay influential and cool and interesting and innovative in a market place where volume is required when you need to grow and be global? How do you do those things? My love was always there and my admiration (for Levi’s) was always there. I had the opportunity to work with LVC (editor’s note: Levi’s Vintage Clothing) which is all about the history of the brand and at the same time I had an opportunity to work with a new project called Levi’s Made & Crafted which is a more modern and contemporary interpretation of the brand.
Please tell us the difference between LVC and Made & Crafted.
As a kind of nickname, LVC is workwear and Made & Crafted is churchwear. Clean outfits that you wear on a Sunday to be with your family. If LVC is about the rigid and unwashed interpretation of workwear, Made & Crafted is about elegance and innovative casualwear which Levi’s has never done before. The trend was always to look at the history and reproduce and reproduce. Levis Made & Crafted has a new twist to it. It’s almost luxury in the arena of jeanswear.
Can you tell us more about LVC and the new Levi’s XX division?
Although LVC was born in 1999 it was never global. It was a much smaller selection of products and was distributed in different ways in Europe, Japan or the US. There was no consistency. There was a desire for that kind of product but it was never fully developed. So in 2009 Levi’s decided to open a new division called XX which is nothing more than a unit that takes care of and develops the top of the pyramid of Levis brands: LVC and Made & Crafted. They are now both developed globally. It’s one range for the entire world – one voice, one language, one religion. Our design team is made up of scientists not fashion designers. We look at fabrics and washes with a microscope. Half of this store represents the biggest selection of made in the U.S. products anywhere in the world. 90% of what we make is made in LA.
You have no marketing campaign but are you going to do any kind of media for LVC?
We have the idea to establish a LVC blog in the next few months. It will be very consumer- interactive. It won’t be about just publishing information but also getting information from the public. Within two or three months we should be able to go live with a very simple format.
It was mentioned in the Japanese press release that the store and brand is about customers finding the brand and not the other way around. Can you explain this a little bit more?
The space in Aoyama is perfect for us. I look at it as a home not as a flagship store. This was designed not to be a flagship store. We actually ‘un-designed’ the store. It’s the bare minimum. One thing we have revolutionized in the world of Levi’s, is this concept. From being a marketing driven company we are becoming a product driven company. This is revolutionary even though it should be normal. It’s no longer normal. For us though it’s all about the product and this home. It’s not about an advertising campaign. We have no campaign: zero advertising. We don’t need that. We are in the business of selling poetry. How can you advertise poetry? Instead of being in Omotesando or Cat Street or in Ginza we decided on an odd location because we are discreet, not a fashion brand. We are a space, a destination brand. We are sure people will come. This is going to become like a church. For me personally this is a dream come true. I have opened stores all over the world but never in Japan. This store for me looks very 2010 and very Levi’s. This is the new vintage. In the future these jeans will be the next collector’s items. We are trying to give the public a very humble message telling them that they have a home. If they want to come here and listen to music and hang out, they can stay. We will have events like embroidery classes, music and seminars about denim. It’s a cultural space for the brand.
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