#Culture  #Events

Semi Permanent 2019


The week before last, the Levi’s® ANZ team were lucky enough to have a special visitor from our HQ in San Francisco; our VP Sustainability, Michael Kobori. As a trailblazer of sustainability in the apparel industry globally and the mastermind behind Levi’s® journey, his visit was a long time coming and very much anticipated by the whole team.

Michael was unsurprisingly snapped up to speak at a series of events, but the highlight of the week for me was, without a doubt, Semi Permanent.

For those not familiar with Semi Permanent, it’s a 3-day event that brings together internationally renowned designers, artists & creative superstars from across the globe. This being my first experience, I was blown away with the talent and was super pumped to have the opportunity to attend, albeit just for day 1. Carriageworks was the perfect location for an event like this and from the moment the doors opened, the space was absolutely buzzing. A really nice touch was the fact it was completely plastic free – even the takeaway coffees were served with a fully biodegradable lid. Pretty neat, huh?

This year’s event was centred around the theme of truth; “how to wield it, how to overcome those who seek to blur it, and if it’s even a necessary ingredient on the path to success”.

There was no warming up – straight off the blocks was a line up of Tom Armstrong (VP, New York Times), Michael Leon (Global Creative Director, Sonos) and our very own Michael Kobori. Each spoke to their personal experience with evolving business and the undeniable reality that truth is an essential ingredient for growth. For Tom, it was the truth that their business was under serious threat in a growing digital world, and without evolving and innovating, the New York Times would have become obsolete. Michael spoke about the importance of innovation and talking to Gen Z consumers. He singled out 15 year old Swedish activist Greta Thunberg as a means of demonstrating what emerging consumers care about most. If you haven’t already seen it, Greta’s speech at the UN Climate Change Conference is a must watch – it’ll seriously blow your socks off, and if you’re a softy like me, have you in tears too.

Next up, Q&A time! Michael gave incredible insight into Levi’s® journey and the important roles that both investors and the government play in achieving a world where businesses not only make a neutral impact on the planet, but in fact, make a positive one. Safe to say we’re incredibly lucky to have a guy like this leading our sustainability mission.

Other stand outs during the day were Michael Gough (VP Design, Uber), Beth O’Brien (BBDO, Colenso) and the hilarious Royce Akers (Creative Director, VICE).

Michael Kobori closed out the day with a moving talk for RARE by Google about what it was like to be an Asian man in a white dominant corporate world. It was very evident that the audience, comprised of people from minority groups experiencing similar struggles, were so grateful for the lessons he shared, and he was equally happy to be able to share them in the hope that he could help.

If you follow us on socials, you would have seen us posting about the Levi’s® activation. It was, in our opinion (we might be biased!), the centrepiece of Carriageworks. Over 100 cubic metres of hand dyed and woven indigo goodness, created by the insanely talented LA artist, Chris Wrobleski, hung in all its glory in the foyer and showcased the work that we are doing from a sustainability perspective. Learn more about Levi’s® sustainability journey here and stay tuned for our interview with Chris, which will be up on the blog soon!

With an unbelievable roster of voices, I honestly would have loved to have seen every single one of them across the 3 days, but I was especially sad to miss CJ Hendry, Mark Woollen, Dr Sandra Eades and Michel Gondry – each superstars in their own right.

I’m going to round out this blog post by sharing a nugget of advice that really stuck with me. We live in a world where it’s so easy to compare ourselves to others – we’re overly critical of ourselves and this can be really damning, both on a professional and personal level. The advice? Use your differences to your advantage. Don’t strive to be exactly like the people you look up to – figure out what you’re good at and focus on that – use your individuality to set yourself apart and you will achieve great things.

Kudos to the team at Semi Permanent – it really was a killer event. Bring on next year…


Eliza Harley

Marketing, Levi’s® ANZ