With a career at the heritage American denim brand that spans more than two decades, Jennifer Sey has driven the marketing, design, merchandising and brand experience efforts that have cemented Levi’s lofty industry status.
Fiercely competitive and highly motivated from a young age, Sey won the U.S. National Gymnastics Championship title in 1986 and was named Gymnastics Athlete of the Year by the U.S. Olympic Committee. After an eight-year career on the national team, she went on to study at Stanford and later release a memoir about her time as a competitive gymnast. Passionate about reforming the space for future generations of gymnasts, she has penned op-eds calling for cultural and legal change that empowers athletes.
She has held a variety of roles at the organization aimed at guiding Levi’s strategic direction, and has received accolades including being named one of AdAge’s “Top 40 Marketers Under 40” in 2006 and one of Billboard Magazine’s “Top 25 Most Powerful People in Music and Fashion.” She received the 2018 CMO Social Responsibility Award and was touted by Forbes as one of 50 executives redefining the role of chief marketing officer.
What is the biggest misconception that consumers have about sustainable denim?
I think there is a common misconception that sustainable products are unaffordable or that ‘sustainable denim’ somehow equates with basic or minimalistic designs or boring unstylish looks. Our collections combine classic and cool denim silhouettes with our innovative fabrics like cottonized hemp, a beautiful, soft denim that requires less water to produce than traditional denim. The result is denim that is as covetable and sustainable as it is accessible and stylish. Or you can choose Levi’s SecondHand, our hand selected previously worn Levi’s that are perfectly worn in—buying second hand gives you covetable and unique authentic finishes and fits, at a reasonable price, while saving approximately 80 percent of the CO2 emissions and 700 grams of waste compared to buying a new pair of Levi’s jeans.
What can the denim industry do to ensure a positive post-pandemic rebound?
Sustainability and responsible consumption are more important than ever. We focus on quality and timeless style in everything we do, and we weave in sustainability everywhere we can. We want people to buy things they truly love and enjoy them for a very long time. Our goal is to be the most favorite item in your closet, the one you reach for every day.
Skinny jeans: Over or a new staple?
I look at the skinny jean as the new classic fit. When you look at different fits, the ones that stick around the longest maybe started as a trend but they have the staying power because they’re flattering. And we do see those classics come back and be really on trend at a certain point, even though they’re always a timeless choice. The trend now is loose, but skinny is always on point. Just like the 501, the perfect classic straight jean.
How can denim retail improve?
This past year accelerated many changes that were already under way in our industry, including the shift to digital. That said, consumers want to shop across a range of channels, including in physical stores, which continue to play an important role for us. In store, you get the best experience of the Levi’s brand, access to services like Tailor Shops, premium products, best in class service and styling and more. The key will be improving the connection between brick and mortar and digital and how we can use both to complement the other, enabling the Levi’s fan to shop with more confidence and seamlessness across channels.
How many pairs of jeans do you own?
That’s a tough question. But that’s also the great thing about Levi’s, they only get better with age so you can have your tried and true one pair or a range of favorites for years. I’ll say this—I’ve been at Levi’s for 22 years and I still have a few pairs from when I started in 1999.
Which jeans do you wear the most, and why?
I’m all about the 501, I have a few vintage pairs that are my absolute favorites. But I’m also a huge fan of the Wedgie. But I’ll wear all our styles really, from skinny to Balloon and everything in between. It all starts with timeless and effortless style.