Will one style of Levi's 501 fly?

Levi's 501 jeans

TEXT OF STORY

Kai Ryssdal: There's nothing that makes getting dressed in the morning easier than deciding to throw on a pair of jeans. Unless you stop to think about all the different styles and cuts of denim out there. Levi Strauss announced today it's decided to sell just one cut of its button-fly 501's all over the world. There will be different sizes, of course. But they're all going to have the same basic fit -- no more of that relaxed fit, boot cut, low-rise style or whatever works for you. It could work for the company and save a bunch of money, if consumers go along. Marketplace's Nancy Marshall Genzer reports.


Nancy Marshall Genzer: Levis used to customize its 501s for various countries, taking into account different body types. But now it's unveiled its single, global fit with a new media campaign called, "Live Unbuttoned."

A Levis video illustrates the universal cut by showing a twenty-something backflip into his 501s. His friends applaud as he slides in without a scratch. Retail analysts say the strategy could cut costs. Levis could use fewer workers and machines to create the jeans. But will they fly? Howard Davidowitz is a retail consultant.

Howard Davidowitz: But if the fit is wrong, it's all over. You immediately, totally lose a sale.

But Linda Tsai of MKM Partners says uniformity could work because Levis is using a different fabric.

Linda Tsai The fabric probably stretches a lot. And it's gotta be a cut that's more forgiving, but also just kind of standard and generic.

But standard and generic isn't what customers have been looking for. John Kottmann of advertising firm McCann Erickson says the trend has been individualism.

John Kottmann: Brands like Nike and others let consumers design their own products, kind of mutate, if you will, what typically was one-size-fits-all in the past.

But Kottmann says jeans have a universal appeal. If Levis is right, it could save and make money. A welcome change for a company that's been on a losing streak for years.

I'm Nancy Marshall Genzer for Marketplace.

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