Tuesday, 30 March 2010

Unveiling of the new LEVI'S London Flagship store

7TH MAN MAGAZINE was today invited to an exclusive unveiling of the newly re-constructed LEVI'S flagship store on London's Regent Street, which will open to the public tomorrow (Wednesday 31st March).

Jamie Hall from Levi's explained to us in incredible details the various concepts of the store, which has a strong emphasis on the heritage of craftsmanship and the history of the Levi's denim branding.

As we entered the store, there were massive ceiling to floor portraits of various artists/craftsman/artisans that are participating in the Levi's current project, these include textile designers, set designers and sculptors. Displayed with their work are headphones that contained messages left by these creatives about themselves, what they do and what inspires them.
This area, known as "The Origins" area, will be left as a clean gallery space to showcase these type of special Levi's collaborations.

Behind the "Origins" area lies the actual store itself.
The fitting and units here are designed to have an industrial feel that is outside the normal realms of fashion: for example, the metallic units on the shop floor are actual crates used in the pharmaceutical industry, and the curved shelving on the walls of the "Inspection Gallery" are inspired by architecture used in airlines. There are also metallic lockers that looked like they came from the old factory staff changing rooms.

Blank brown paint canvases are littered here and there on the walls - the intention of this is to draw attention to the brown duck canvas material itself, which was a revolutionary material used around 150 years ago to make garments for industry workers such as farmers and miners. This material was hard to wear and rather uncomfortable - and over time it led to the development of denim and the Levi's brand.

The same brown duck canvas lines the wall of the new changing rooms which is now unisex, with blue painted barn-like doors. When switched on, there are lights that alert staff for help, which should help any embarrassments of being half dressed behind changing room doors shouting for assistance!

The research into the perfect retail experience can be seen in how the womenswear and menswear shopping areas are arranged.
The womenswear area is arranged like a wardrobe, with different types of garments placed next to each other so the shopper can put looks together as they shop, whereas the menswear section is arranged by different catergories of garments - as men shops very differently to women.

This is also reflected in the "Inspection Room" in the basement, which is organised especially to eliminate the hassle and difficulties of buying a pair of jeans. Mannequins display the different styles/fits of jeans, while the unit directly below shows the different washes/treatments/finishes available in that style/fit with a code. Using this code you can find the jeans in your size directly behind you on a metal shelf. Easy!

As the Levi's 501 is the biggest jean in the world, a special area in the basement is dedicated to it.
Around the walls are 501s in 18 different washes, with the most popular 4 washes (there are 22 washes in total!!) in the centre folded in a special self-selection area in the centre catered for easy shopping.
Together with a massive see-through denim vault/store room, nearly half of this new Levi's store is dedicated to the 501 jean.

The romance of the 501 jean can be experienced in the Vintage section.
The current model on display is the 501 taken from the 1933 archive. It features metal braces buttons and a cinch back, with belt loops at the sides that were only just introduced back in the 30s - an era of US economic crisis and the Great Depression.

We finished the tour at the bottom of the glass staircase where a framed pair of Levi's 201 jean that came from the San Francisco Levi's archive (this model will be available to buy later this year). These were found in a mine around 100 years ago - they have been cleaned only and kept in an air tight, temperature controlled environment - not restored/repaired in any other way.

Interestingly, this amazing pair of vintage jeans from 100 years ago really sums up the ethos and heritage of the Levi's brand: Classic, yet forever modern and enduring, defying trends and outlasting the cycles of fashion.


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