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The Guardian - UK
The Guardian - UK
Lauren Cochrane Senior fashion writer

Beyoncé effect: Cowboy Carter album puts Levi’s on fashion hotlist

Beyoncé at mic wearing demin top and shorts
Beyoncé has championed double denim, also known as the ‘Canadian tuxedo’, earlier on in her career including on 2014’s On the Run tour. Photograph: Kevin Mazur/Getty Images

“Denim on denim on denim on denim,” sings Beyoncé on Levii’s Jeans, one of the standout tracks of her new album, Cowboy Carter. And it appears fans are taking the statement to heart.

In the week after the album’s release, the clothing company Levi Strauss & Co noted a 20% rise in footfall at stores across the US and a 20% increase in its share price. In the UK, John Lewis report that searches for “women’s Levi’s jeans” were up 263% since the record was announced.

Beyoncé is also endorsing double – or, going by her lyrics, quadruple – denim. She posted an image on Instagram of her wearing a pair of jeans with denim shirt and a denim bag. The Instagram account @databutmakeitfashion, which covers consumer behaviour in relation to style, report that the mentions of double denim were up 14% on social media since Cowboy Carter’s release.

Double denim – sometimes known as the Canadian tuxedo – has long been a divisive look. It’s either seen as the epitome of bad taste or perfect cowboy style. It’s the latter that Beyoncé is leaning into. Lil Nas X, Lizzo and Harry Styles have also experimented with cowboy style, and Pharrell Williams’s latest collection for Louis Vuitton had a western theme. Cowboy-core, meanwhile, has become an aesthetic on TikTok.

Levi Strauss have embraced the megastar nod – temporarily changing its name on Instagram to Levii’s as a tribute. Speaking on a conference call last week, the chief executive, Michelle Gass, emphasised the brand’s position at the heart of culture. “I don’t think there’s any better evidence or proof point than having someone like Beyoncé, who is a culture shaper, to actually name a song after us,” she said.

Arguably, both the singer and the jeans are American classics. “Levi’s, the original Americana brand, feels like a natural fit” for Beyoncé to reference, said Sheena Butler-Young, a senior correspondent at the platform the Business of Fashion. “It … has just the right mix of classic and affordable – but not cheap.”

Natalie Dickson is the head of women’s luxury brand partnerships at Flannels, a retailer the singer collaborated with on the 2023’ Renaissance tour.

“Beyoncé has a really unique ability to influence trends with her work,” said Dickson. “Brands can really capitalise on riding the wave of Beyoncé’s influence – as we’re seeing with Levi’s at the moment.”

In Summer Renaissance, the last track on her 2022 album, Renaissance, the star took on handbags. “This Telfar bag imported,” she sings. “Birkins? Them shit’s in storage.” Vogue Business reported searches for Telfar on the resale site The RealReal jumped by 85% on the day the album was released.

Butler-Young warns that the Beyoncé effect will not last for ever for Levi’s. To continue “revenue success”, she said, a key task is to “excite and court younger shoppers with marketing and products, which Beyoncé certainly helps, and broaden its appeal beyond a singular staple. Beyoncé, in many ways, placed the proverbial ball in their court, it’s up to Levi’s to execute.”

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