Levi Strauss advertising on a building in Woodland, California. (Wikipedia)
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There, Levi's is overhauling its namesake brand's entire women's line.Comfortable and flattering at the same time, athletic pants last year sold in about equal numbers to jeans for the first time in the U.S., according to market researcher NPD Group, as revenue from women's jeans fell 8 percent. At Levi's, the yoga pants scourge is especially vexing, disrupting a turnaround plan by a new chief executive officer that had been showing signs of success.For Levi's, a company whose riveted trousers can be found at the Smithsonian, the entire notion of innovation is ticklish.If the tenets of denim are immutable, the way Levi Strauss sells jeans has been long overdue for a change.Two decades ago, Levi's was bigger than Nike, with revenue exceeding $7 billion. For a long time, that didn't matter – Levi's had built a machine that churned out familiar jeans for large department stores and customers with predictable tastes. Fifteen years ago, about half of the company's revenue came from its 10 largest U.S. customers. As those businesses declined – with many department stores folding or consolidating – so did their sales of Levi's jeans.
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