THE MIX: For Levi’s California Collection, which will be sold at Alternative, design inspirations were mixed: Venice Beach cool and Sierra Nevada mountains grit.

Call it a mix of Venice funk and Sierra Nevada mountain grit.

Levi Strauss & Co. ’s new brand, Levi’s California , which made a low-key debut in the Spring 2014 season, introduced a collection designed by Nic Rendic, Levi’s global design director. Heritage brand Pendleton and Japanese retailer Beams also worked on the project. Called Levi’s California Collection , the collection will be sold at boutiques for basics brand Alternative . It makes an official debut Nov. 13 at Alternative’s boutique on Los Angeles’ Abbot Kinney Boulevard.

But the collection had roots in brainstorming sessions when Rendic; Orondava Mumford, Alternative’s design director; and Erik Joule, Alternative’s brand president and chief merchandising officer, worked at Levi’s around five years ago.

Mumford and Rendic often brainstormed about ways they could bring Levi’s heritage into new vistas. They made suits for Levi’s. If the suits never made it to store shelves, they never forgot their inspiration of making new looks for a venerable company, Rendic said. “It’s easy to get locked into history,” he said. “Instead you should use history to unlock you. It’s a conversation that we have all the time.”

Recently, Rendic worked on a project that revived and reimagined the Levi’s California label, which the brand sold during the late 1960s. It was sold in 14 doors of the Beams retail chain in Japan and a handful of Levi’s stores in the United States.

Mumford thought the design of Levi’s California could be taken a few steps further. “Bring a city like Venice and put it in the Sierras,” Mumford said, recalling brainstorming sessions. A result of the inspiration could be something like a beach short that would be worn on the Venice boardwalk, but make it with wool, so it can be equipped for Sierra chill. The line also fit in with Alternative’s aesthetic of products designed with a simplicity and an environmental sustainability.

Some of the collection’s looks include a slim-fitting quilted sweatshirt with a crewneck silhouette, a wool overshirt made with Pendleton fabric and a blazer made out of birdcloth—a poplin made by the U.S. military in the 1940s. The blazer’s lining is a chino cloth. Another of the collection’s styles is a wool cashmere cardigan.

Mumford wanted his company to sell the collection because he felt it was a perfect complement to Alternative’s basics.

“It creates a wardrobe that goes perfectly with basics. We’d like to dress in it head-to-toe,” Mumford said. The collection will be offered at Alternative boutiques, its e-commerce store ( ) and at select Beams doors in Japan.

Maryan Barbara
Maryan Barbara

Leave a Comment