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Working in the trenches of the fashion industry for years.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Levi's goes after 'copyists'

See the Jan. 29, 2007 NYTimes article "Levis' Turns to Suing Its Rivals" for revelations on how the San Francisco denim maker is attempting to protect its brand.

Not only must other denim manufacturers be wary of placing any form of topstitched arc on the rear pockets of their jeans, you can't place a label in the vertical pocket seam on either the right or left side. They have a world wide team of store detectives looking for violations of their patent.

It's rare to have a patent on a sewn product in the garment industry. Gee, I guess Levi's really did invent something, huh?

Take a look at what Levi's considers to be an infringement~ As we saw in a previous MondoMode post on piracy and intellectual property issues in the fashion industry, copying can sometimes spur innovation. Apparently innovation is no longer Levi's business.

Stories abound in the Garment Center of design team meetings at the Gap with file folders with 500 pocket designs on the table. Don't quite like the look of that one? Let's try this.

Is Levi's, and in turn all of the denim manufacturers that it has spawned, so bereft of ideas? I agree that those manufacturers that are able to protect their brand should do so, no quarrel there. What gets me is that Levi's, a company that has more money than God, and 'owns' the concept of denim jeans, was unable to see which way the wind blows. Let's do some designing, what do you say?

Don't get me started on how the Gap has also given up its pre-eminent place as well! Is it something in the water in San Francisco? Nah, more likely it's the fickle finger of fashion. It's hard work to stay on the edge, maintain your customer base, and attract new customers as your base ages out.


Blogger Mary Beth said...

So, Levi's sues the (pants) pockets off competitors, eh? I liked the comment by Steven Shaul of Jelessy Jeans: “It was an original design,” he said. “Why would I use Levi’s stitching? If my jeans sell for $200, I would not knock off $40 jeans from Levi’s.”

7:55 AM  
Blogger Summerset said...

"Imitation is the highest form of flattery." They must have forgotten that.

10:14 AM  
Blogger Cara said...

They are protecting their brand equity. The Levi name and product is known worldwide.
“Levi” means blue jeans. Like Windex means window cleaner and Kleenex means tissue.
The brand name adds value to any product they put it on, like shirts, jackets, socks, and other line extensions.
Around here, immigrants buy used Levi’s to send to their relatives back home to sell. My husband never throws out old jeans, he sells them. They won’t buy any other brand, only Levi’s.
To many people today, Singer is the best sewing machine made. They ‘know’ this. Their Grandmother knew this. Great Grandma knew it too. What they don’t know is how many times the name and manufacturing rights have been sold from one company to another. The reputation earned by Singer pre-‘70s follows it today. I have taught classes to people who were so proud of the new Singer they got at Wal*Mart. They know it’s quality because it’s a Singer.
Singer does make good machines, but many they make are not very desirable. Singer still has the reputation it earned more than three generations ago, and it adds to the saleablity of the product.
I had a Singer, it was good for light casual sewing, but when the going got tough, the tension slipped and it skipped stitches. The repair guy said I was pushing it beyond what it could do. He wouldn’t take it as a trade in on another used machine, so I bought a used Kenmore with a broken zig-zag for $99. I machine quilted queen size quilts on it. It sounded like a food processor full of prune pits, but it was a workhorse.
I sold both machines for $25 each. The Singer went to the first person who came to look. The Kenmore took 4 hours to unload and I had to demonstrate it and show things I had made with it, and give a money back guarantee.
Brand Equity.

7:23 PM  
Blogger Jen said...

I'm a big one for intellectual property rights, and support Levi in this,
but your final comments about designing aimed at both Levi and Gap I also agree with,
It's like both companies have laid down and decided to die. HELLOO! hire some young blood and wake up, with the brand recognition these 2 giants have it is appalling that the quality, diversity and innovation in denim design is so low with their products. There have been several instances in the past year that I have shopped the denim market for specific trends, only to find Gap without that trend, and Levi? (where is Levi? who sells them?)

7:14 PM  

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