Earlier this month, Levi’s® joined forces with Royal Enfield, one of India’s most iconic motorcycle brands, to launch an exclusive collection for riders. We sit down with Sanjeev Mohanty, managing director for South Asia, Middle East & North Africa and an avid biker himself, to understand the inspiration behind the collaboration.
The Levi’s® x Royal Enfield collaboration has gotten off to a roaring start in India. What was the genesis of this collaboration?
I’m a passionate motor-biker, so for more than five years the idea to do something in this space was in the back of my mind. The trigger happened on a motorcycle trip, when one of my fellow riders mentioned that he was a fan of the Levi’s® Commuter collection and suggested that we have a technical line with similar features that cater to the motorcycling community for work and leisure. Luckily, I knew the leadership team at Royal Enfield, and they loved the idea, too.
It took us 18 months from concept to production, and it’s turned out to be an amazing program with some breakthrough and innovative products.
Tell us about the collection.
The collection targets the hardcore motor-bikers at the top end, and then the cool motorcycle inspired products for those who are not motor-bikers but love that lifestyle and want that cool denim in 511™ and awesome T-shirts and Trucker jackets.
It features jeans and jackets in our favorite fits and our iconic denim jacket that have been redesigned with CORDURA® denim, mesh and bi-stretch fabrics, all purposefully designed with features like armor slots for shoulder, elbow and knee, a 3D pocket with a hidden zipper, high visibility reflective tape and more. The collection also features a wide range of graphic T-shirts created by multidisciplinary artist, Toria Jaymes, who is a rider herself.
How did the launch go?
The response has been great. The launch has exceeded all our expectations and broken all records. We had 3.6 million views in less than 72 hours, and comments with consumers and fans writing to us from all over the world asking when we plan to launch in their home country. And the sell-through rate has exceeded expectation during this pandemic, where we have seen a significant drop on the traffic footfall.
The engagement levels and views from our fans are the highest we’ve seen of any launch in 25 years of our presence here in India. It has been overwhelming, and we are in complete awe.
Interestingly, Levi’s® fans who are not bikers are also loving this line and products. It’s just gone viral. The other interesting fact is that we did not have a huge marketing budget for production and advertising. It goes to show that when you have great products that connect with the fans, plus a bit of creativity, you can have a successful launch.
Why do you think this launch has been so successful?
First, we found a partner that shares our brand DNA and values. Royal Enfield and Levi’s® both have a rich history and symbolize the same values of originality, independence, self-expression and authenticity. Through this amazing partnership, we are able to capture the imagination of a community. Motor-bikers are a passionate bunch, and when you create something that lets them unleash their authentic self-expression while solving their commuting need, they will share this passion with their fellow riders.
Secondly, the collection combines form with function and introduces innovations that motor-bikers want. The products in it were purposefully designed with features and elements that denim-loving riders are looking for, like CORDURA® denim with high abrasion resistance that is built to last.
This partnership has given me confidence that there is still an untapped opportunity for us out there. When fans think about denim, they immediately think about Levi’s®. Our vision for the Levi’s® brand is to be the most loved, most relevant lifestyle brand, and this partnership has demonstrated that we have an opportunity to achieve this vision with the motorcycle community.
What went behind making this collaboration come to life?
It was really a cross-functional effort!
The key team members behind this creation, led by our product innovation leader Rajesh Gupta, spent six months iterating, testing, failing and trying again to build these products with the best innovative fabric, fit and finish modeled for comfort, ease of movement, safety and protection. Meera Saxena and her merchandising team partnered with Rajesh to create the complete lifestyle line assortment with the flagship innovative products.
The global product, design and merchandising team fully supported this collaboration, encouraging the local team and helping to create this in line with the brand DNA. It would not have been possible to get this project going without the support of our global colleagues.
The marketing team also did an amazing job recruiting 200+ influencers and went deep into collaborating with them to reach out to more than 500 motorcycle communities and groups.
What’s the future of the Levi’s® x Royal Enfield line and collaboration?
We are already talking about the next edition of this partnership for fall 2021.
We are planning to introduce a women’s line and cooler innovative add-ons that incorporate early feedback from consumers. We will add a few accessories and extend this to sweatshirts and woven tops as well. I can’t give away too much, but we are very excited by what’s coming!