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Levi’s Doubles Down on Laser Technology With New Customization Platform

The future of denim customization is lasers. Levi’s announced Wednesday the launch of Future Finish, the first online customization platform that offers next level personalization through the use of laser finishing. With over 3,000 possible permutations, consumers can make a true original.

To start, consumers will choose their favorite iconic Levi’s fit—the 501 Original and 502 Taper for men, or the 501 Short and 721 Skinny for women—in a light or dark denim wash. Throughout the process, they can select from three different tints (midnight, black or rose), six patterns like natural worn, bandana, logo, camo or leopard, and then add wear through rips or distressing. Consumers can also swap the leather back patch of their jeans with six different color options (blue, yellow, orange, pink, green or our traditional leather).

Future Finish garments retail for $98-$148. The customized jeans are finished and shipped from Levi’s Sky Harbor Agility Center in Henderson, Nev. to consumers within 3-5 days of being designed.

Created in Levi’s Eureka Innovation Lab, Future Finish garments utilize the capabilities born out of Project F.L.X., Levi’s digital finishing operating model. Launched in early 2018, Project F.L.X. automates the jeans finishing process through laser-powered technology, allowing the company to reduce time to market and eliminate thousands of chemical formulations from the finishing process. Roughly 25 percent of the Levi’s denim bottoms business on a global basis is finished with its F.L.X. technology.

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Additionally, all Future Finish garments will be finished with 100 percent recycled water. The resulting product is one with a reduced environmental impact and a one-of-a-kind look.

However, the technology needed to be tweaked for a consumer-facing platform. “It was important that we pushed ourselves here at the Eureka Innovation Lab to create the innovative experience the e-commerce team was really expecting from Future Finish,” said Bart Sights, VP for technical innovation.

Considered to be the architect of Future Finish, Sights said one of the biggest challenges was to create a realistic rendering of the jean so consumers could better visualize their design. To do this, the lab needed to move its digital tools from a 2D format to 3D. “We felt very strongly that we needed to do this because it needed to look so real,” he said. “And that’s the thing we’re most proud of, that we didn’t have to outsource it which in my opinion has made it a lot better quality.”

All signs point to Levi’s expanding Future Finish as technology and consumer preferences evolve.

“It takes our relationship with the consumer to the next level—helping them personalize, understanding what they’ve made, understanding what inspires them, and understanding what they might want to make next,” said Marc Rosen, executive vice president and president of direct-to-consumer for Levi Strauss & Co. “It deepens our connection with the consumer, and it deepens their connection with the brand. It’s now our denim and it’s their design.”

Future Finish
Future Finish laser in progress Levi's

When Levi’s announced the launch of Project F.L.X., the industry insiders knew it was only a matter of time before the company would pivot the technology into the hands (and vision) of the consumer. From introducing Lot No. 1 program for made-to-order jeans, to the global roll out of Levi’s Tailor Shops, where consumers can personalize garments with pins, patches, alterations and chain stitch embroidery, self-expression through customization is a fundamental part of the Levi’s experience.

And these personalized experiences are in part why the heritage brand continues to enjoy strong brand loyalty among new consumer cohorts. A 2018 survey by YPulse found that consumers between the ages of 13 to 36 rank Levi’s as the No. 2 most trustworthy brand, just behind Nike.

“Levi’s fans have been customizing our jeans for decades,” said Jennifer Sey, CMO of Levi Strauss & Co. global brands. “They sat in bathtubs to shrink them to fit, they patched and repaired them, they sanded them down for the perfect worn in finish. Now, with Future Finish, we’re making it easy to create a one of a kind custom pair of Levi’s, which are sure to be your most coveted, favorite item of clothing.”