Born and raised in San Francisco, Ari Lurie does what he calls “a lot of stealth creative projects for Levi’s®.” His stepfather was heavily involved in the brand—in Ari's early memories, the legendary denim label plays a prominent role. A few years ago he saw an opportunity for Levi’s® to be more closely involved with surf culture. He approached them with the idea of doing a collaboration with Outerknown. It happened, it continues to happen—it’s been a great success.
JB: How did the collaboration come about?
AL: It’s about a brand that I grew up with and that’s part of my family, Levi’s®, and a brand that I’ve been an admirer of since they started, Outerknown. I was buying their stuff before the idea of partnering up with them happened. I have so much respect for Outerknown and what they stand for. They made me really think about what I wear, and how important it is to be conscious with regards to making clothes. I have the ability within Levi’s to do creative stuff, but also stuff that I can feel good about, and this collaboration embodies that. Are we going to make millions of dollars? No. But is the message and process of making clothes and the story we’re telling good for humans? Yes. This is the most thoughtful and conscientious way you can make a pair of jeans. This collaboration has always felt right and good on so many levels. I’ve always thought we were doing something that has a lot of value behind it. To meet John [Moore] and to see what kind of integrity he has as a person and a designer made the process that much more fun and meaningful and valuable.
JB: Living in Mill Valley, you’re naturally attuned to the beauty of nature.
AL: The first time I realized how much being in the water meant to me was when I was nine. I was in Hawaii, and I was just so drawn to the ocean there. Laying in bed, hearing waves pound the shore at five in the morning, I wanted to get out in the water right away! Since then I’ve always been attuned to Mother Nature. It’s always been a place I respect, a place of refuge. It’s so important to my well-being, and it’s something I want to pass along to my kids. We live on Mount Tamalpais, and it’s such a magical spot that I appreciate so much.
JB: How’s the collab going?
AL: As the seasons evolve, as we go from 2018 to 2019, the story and the Wellthread™ assortment just becomes more and more beautiful. John's able to get his hands on it creatively and turn it into more than just jeans and a jean jacket. It’s a more artistic assortment. Each piece becomes more unique. I look at it and go, “I want that!” I’m so proud to feel that way. It did just start with just a beautiful pair of jeans and a beautiful trucker jacket that’s made in the most conscientious way, but it’s turned into something more than that, and will continue to do so as the years evolve.
JB: Explain “Wellthread™.”
AL: Wellthread™ is a way of making denim and clothes more sustainable. It’s a process that Levi’s trademarked, and the assortment is all Wellthread™. It’s Levi’s® and Outerknown present Wellthread™. It is the most sustainable way to make a pair of jeans, or a T-shirt, or a jacket. I was just at Levi’s® last week sitting with James Curleigh, the brand head, and he’s like, “See that Outerknown Levi’s® jacket over there, we’re sending that to Al Gore.” I was like, “Really, that’s cool!” And he goes, “Yeah, he came and spoke at a conference we had and I want to send him the most sustainable jacket that we make, and that’s it right there.” So Wellthread™ is the pinnacle of making clothes the right way.