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Levi Strauss Goes Public Again


Bart Sights, head of the Eureka Lab, left, and Aykut Aygun, manager of technical innovation, give a demonstration on designing jeans at Levi's innovation lab in San Francisco, Feb. 9, 2018.
Levi Strauss Goes Public Again
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Levi Strauss is known as the company that gave America its first pair of blue jeans.

This week, the New York Stock Exchange suspended its "no jeans allowed" policy for one day to celebrate the company going public for the second time. Going public refers to an action a business takes to offer shares or stock that can be exchanged on the open market.

The new public offering comes at a time when Levi faces increasing competition and a changing market. The number of department stores is shrinking. And more women are wearing yoga pants or other athletic sportswear – a trend some refer to as "athleisure."

Marie Driscoll is with the luxury and fashion Coresight Research group. She said the "athleisure trend made denim not as comfortable. But denim brands [like Levi] have responded by adding stretch” to their jeans.

Levi Strauss has also tried to change its image. It focused on changing the fit of its women's jeans with more flexible fabrics. The company has also partnered with famous celebrities, including Justin Timberlake, and marketed at popular events, such as Coachella, a music and arts festival.

This is a 1850s photograph of Levi Strauss, who originated the denim blue jeans that bear his first name. Strauss emigrated from Bavaria with his family to New York City in 1847. In 1953 he built a clothing factory in San Francisco, supplying tough denim
This is a 1850s photograph of Levi Strauss, who originated the denim blue jeans that bear his first name. Strauss emigrated from Bavaria with his family to New York City in 1847. In 1953 he built a clothing factory in San Francisco, supplying tough denim

Levi Strauss and tailor Jacob Davis invented jeans in the late 19th century. They received a patent to create workpants with rivets, a kind of metal support. The rivets made the workpants stronger in certain areas, such as the pocket corners.

The company, 166 years old, previously went public in 1971. It became a private company in 1985, a decision made by the founder's descendants.

Even with the new public offering, Strauss' descendants will likely still have a large influence over the company's major decisions.

Moving forward, Levi Strauss says it hopes to expand more into China, India and Brazil. It also plans on expanding its retail stores. As of late last year, Levi’s operated 824 stores.

I'm John Russell.

Anne D'Innocenzio reported on this story for AP. John Russell adapted it for Learning English. Hai Do was the editor.

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Words in This Story

jeans – n. pants made of a strong cloth (called denim)

offering – n. the sale of a company's stock to the public

yoga – n. a system of exercises for mental and physical health

sportswear – n. comfortable clothes that people wear for informal activities; clothes that people wear for playing sports

patentn. an official document that gives a person or company the right to be the only one that makes or sells a product for a certain period of time

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