Levi's Creates Modern Originals Line for China

BBH Ads Capture Two Artists' Edgy Moments

By Published on .

Sulumi has a passionate following among young electronic musicians in China
Sulumi has a passionate following among young electronic musicians in China

BEIJING (AdAgeChina.com) -- Levi Strauss & Co. is creating a product line for its Fall/Winter 2009 season specifically for the Chinese market, called Modern Originals, featuring two Chinese artists.

The artists, the musician Sulumi and an illustrator, Yan Wei, were chosen as representatives of China's underground art scene. Hailed as the Chinese godfather of 8-bit music created by GameBoy machines, Sulumi has a passionate following among young electronic musicians in China.

Yan Wei, also known as Kokomoo, embraces influences ranging from manga/anime and comics, to street art and paintings, with cute but often dark undertones.

In the ads, the artists are captured mid-creation, surrounded by their tools to create an edgy, spontaneous moment.
"Levi's wants to get more into underground. A lot of things it has done in the past have been global-level campaigns filtered down to a regional level," said Steve Elrick, regional exec creative director, Asia at Bartle Bogle Hegarty in Singapore, which developed the ad campaign for the new Chinese product line.

"This time, the product was focused on China only, so we thought it would be interesting to not go for the usual sort of pop stars and take [the campaign] to a more underground, grungier level. The art scene in Shanghai is more commercial. Beijing is where the most original artists are coming from."

The San Francisco-based jeans maker is focusing on China to a 13% decline in sales in the second quarter of 2009, largely because of a drop in wholesale orders in Japan.

"The decline [in mature markets] was partially offset by increased sales from continued retail store expansion in developing markets" such as China and India, another major growth market, said Levi Strauss in a company statement earlier this year.

"China is a huge market and it's growing, particularly on the women's side," Mr. Erlick said. "In fact, Levi's have done particularly well with women in all of Asia, and certainly in China, even though it normally is perceived as a masculine brand in western markets. They are even opening women-only stores in Beijing and Shanghai. There is a massive focus on both China and India right now."

The Modern Originals line, one of the first products designed specifically for China, puts a spin on classic Levi's clothing like side pocketed jeans, and is likely to be introduced in other Asian markets later this year.

"In the design details, the clothes are refitted for the market in China. Levi's played around with iconic features like the pockets, rivets, buttons," Mr. Erlick said.

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