Traders, many in jeans, work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange as Levi Strauss & Co. returns to public markets for the first time in nearly 35 years (SPENCER PLATT)

New York (AFP) – Iconic jeans company Levi’s made a hot return to Wall Street on Thursday as it eyes international growth and more direct sales to consumers in the fast-changing retail environment.

Trading under the ticker symbol “LEVI, shares of Levi Strauss & Co. surged more than 30 percent to $22.22 above its IPO price in opening trade on the New York Stock Exchange.

The NYSE relaxed its no-denim policy for the session, for which the opening bell was rung by jeans-clad executives from the San Francisco-based company.

Levi’s, which went private in 1985, had raised $623 million in an initial public offering that priced above its initial target price.

First founded in 1853 in San Francisco as a wholesale dry goods business, Levi’s invented the blue jean 20 years later, a product that was initially worn by primarily by miners and cowboys before becoming ubiquitous in the 20th century.

The brand has since had its ups and downs in terms of its cultural relevance but has been seen as again rising under Chief Executive Charles Bergh, who joined Levi’s in September 2011 after a lengthy stint at Procter & Gamble.

Bergh told CNBC that he planned to use some of the proceeds from the offering to enhance the company’s e-commerce business, build out its brick-and-mortar presence and in general for “continued investment in building out our omnichannel footprint.”

Levi’s said in a securities filing that it plans to use proceeds from the offering for general corporate purposes, as well as for potential acquisitions. The filing also emphasized potential growth in China and other emerging markets.

Shares were at $22.82, up 34.22 percent near 1540 GMT.

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