Levi Strauss & Co. is heading back into the public spotlight as a year of change kicks off for denim makers.
The company, which has been private for more than three decades, is expected to begin trading on the New York Stock Exchange on Thursday. The move comes as Levi's next closest U.S. competitors, VF Corp and Gap Inc., plan corporate shake-ups of their own and customers shift their shopping habits.
VF Corp plans to spin off its jeanswear business, which includes Wrangler, Lee, Rock & Republic, into a new public company called Kontoor Brands sometime in the first half of 2019. VF's remaining brands, which include Vans, The North Face, Timberland and others, will remain under the VF Corp parent company.
Gap Inc., meanwhile, is planning to spin off its Old Navy brand into its own publicly traded company, leaving the Gap brand, Banana Republic, Athleta, Intermix and Hill City under the parent company with a name still to be determined.
But those aren't the only changes denim makers are facing. The category has been has been in flux as U.S. consumers shift from jeans to athleisure brands, and do more of their shopping online. Still, the U.S jeanswear market is forecast to improve though the pace of global denim sales are expected slow. As Levi Strauss goes public, it is looking at opportunities to sell more to women, and ring up more sales online and in China.