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May 6, 2021

So long, leggings. Jeans are having a resurgence, Levi’s CEO says

NEW YORK (CNN) — With many people still working from home, every day is casual Friday. That’s great news for jeans maker Levi Strauss.

The iconic denim company reported earnings and sales after the closing bell Thursday that topped Wall Street’s forecasts. Shares of Levi Strauss, which went public in 2019, rose more than 3% Friday to hit a new all-time high. The stock is now up nearly 30% so far this year.

Although overall sales were down due to store closures tied to the COVID pandemic, the company said that digital sales soared more than 40% and now account for more than a quarter of overall revenue.

Levi Strauss CEO Chip Bergh said on a Thursday conference call with analysts that a “denim resurgence” is boosting his company and the entire casual clothing industry.

Bergh said the “continuing trend towards casualization” is leading more consumers to buy jeans — even as more people get vaccinated against COVID-19 and start to go out more.

That’s one reason the company issued guidance for the current quarter that was also better than what analysts were expecting.

“What we’re seeing is a combination of a lot of pent-up demand from people being stuck at home and hunkered down and not really doing a lot of shopping, combined with an exuberance from the economic stimulus here in the U.S.,” Bergh told analysts.

“I feel much more confident today than I did even a month ago about our ability to come through this pandemic in a much stronger position,” he added.

Bergh also said that sales in China are bouncing back. He pointed out that the company’s flagship store in Wuhan is back to pre-pandemic sales levels.

The global surge in denim demand is good news for Levi Strauss rival Kontoor Brands as well. Shares of the Lee and Wrangler brands owner are up more than 35% this year.

The-CNN-Wire™ & © 2021 Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company. All rights reserved.

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