New Emissary

Levi’s, China Kiss & Make-Up

China and Levi’s have forgiven and forgotten—in the name of affordable jeans.

China and Levi's have forgiven and forgotten—in the name of affordable jeans.


Things seemed to be looking up for narrow-hipped, smaller-bottomed and shorter-legged jean lovers of the world the last couple of months when early industry hype suggested that Levi Strauss & Co. was about to launch a new line of denim tailored to such frames.

However, it turned out that the best news came more for tight-budgeted Asian young people when, last week, the company instead debuted dENiZEN, an affordable series of pants in Shanghai.

While the dENiZEN slogan, ‘fit for everybody,’ seems to indicate an all-inclusive mission, and the brand will over the next few months be made available in China, Singapore and South Korea—where people on average simply have smaller physiques—the major selling point of the label so far appears to be value rather than the special cut. The new jeans range from $40 to $60 dollars in price—compared to its higher-end fashion lines, which average out closer to $100 but will be designed in the same way as other Levi's pants.

From an economic point of view, things seem to be off to a good start.

As recounted in a Wall Street Journal piece earlier this year, it’s been 17 years since Levis, in 1993, ‘declared it would end relationships with contractors in China’ over a human rights issues. Back then, Levi's chairman and CEO Robert Haas reportedly decided to withdraw its operations from the country after a report on 40 countries determined that China and Burma were the only two engaging in major human rights violations.

But despite this past falling out, according to the Associated Press, Levi's already has an ‘avid following in China,’ and in fact also has clothing and shoes sales that ‘have outpaced pricey Japan, accounting for more than a third for all of Asia.’