Levi Strauss CEO Chip Bergh doubled down on the clothing company’s efforts to slowly expand a gender-neutral collection when pressed about controversy recently garnered by Bud Light.
Bergh was asked by Axios senior business reporter Hope King at a conference in San Francisco about the firm’s efforts to market products in a world where individuals are “more aware of their gender identities,” a reality which King noted corresponds with growing consumer frustration with perceived corporate social activism such as the marketing partnership between Bud Light and social media influencer Dylan Mulvaney. The executive replied that Levi’s is responding to demand for clothing which conforms to neither male nor female identities.
“We actually have a gender-neutral line. It was a small collection,” Bergh told King. “And we know that women buy some men’s product and men buy some women’s product. We know that goes on, we’ve got the market research and the data to show it, and that’s great. We are kind of building out slowly, starting with a very small collection of gender-neutral or gender-fluid lines and there is definitely consumer appetite for that, and we’re there for that.”
Levi’s indeed has a landing page that markets to consumers whose “self-expression isn’t just about what you wear” and offers a variety of products “regardless of gender.” An advertisement on the site features one model with long hair and a beard wearing a flowing denim jacket dress, as well as another who feels “a lot more freedom” when wearing masculine items.
“It started when I was really young out of a need to feel special. I realized that as a man, we didn’t have all that women had to play with, so I decided that I would,” the first model said. “I think in general, queer people are very attached to imagery because they’re ways we found to feel included and to differentiate ourselves,” added the second.
Levi’s also unveiled efforts to celebrate “pride” ahead of the month-long festival observed by adherents of the LGBTQ movement. The firm sells a handful of rainbow-themed jeans, short sleeve shirts, jean jackets, boxer briefs, tank tops, and a see-through “radical love” dress.
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The efforts from Levi’s come as several reports indicate that Anheuser-Busch, the parent company of Bud Light, has hemorrhaged sales after the brand partnered with Mulvaney, a man who claims to be a woman and chronicled his purported gender transition on social media. Executives for the beverage firm have offered vague apologies, downplayed the extent of the campaign, and even hired veteran Republican lobbyists in various attempts to win back disgruntled conservatives who formerly consumed the beer.
The superficial attempts to back away from Mulvaney have now earned the company additional backlash from the opposite end of the political spectrum: angered members of the LGBTQ movement are demanding that Anheuser-Busch affirm their full-throated support for the ideology or face a second boycott effort.
Levi’s is not the only clothing company to offer “pride” collections. Target recently unveiled new products with LGBTQ themes, including several pieces of apparel meant for kids and babies, as well as children’s books that advance the tenets of transgender activism.