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Tuesday, May 21, 2013

A Legacy Cut And Sewn: 140 Years of Levi's and The Iconic 501 Jean


I once heard somewhere that if nuclear disaster were to ravage the world as we know it, there would remain one small constant.  The cockroach!  It seems to be that one pesky, annoying and intrusive insect that seems to survive hell to come back to inhabit kitchens, walls and floor boards the world over.  However, what is with the cockroach that makes it so enduring?  Maybe its genetics understand that if you desire to stick around then you have to appropriately adapt.  That adaptation doesn't have to be radical or extreme but just enough to prove that the form can change little and it's the resilience that proves to be that distinguishing factor.

One hundred and forty years may not be a very long time in the years of the enduring cockroach.  However, considering the fickle world of fashion, clothing and adornment 140 years is quite a time span to spawn discernible change.  What's interesting to note is that while men may no longer don tailed waistcoats nor women padded bustles, one item donned during that time has endured with very little change to fit and construction.  It's the blue jean.  This year Levi's Strauss celebrates 140 years of their cash cow and just like the veritable cockroach, that cow refuses to stop producing milk for a new generation of drinkers.
Since 1873 Levi's has been building upon the stalwart existence of the jean as we know it with their most popular style being the iconic 501.  Much like the cheeky little cockroach Levi's has survived by being there from the start and adapting as it needs to while still remaining true to form.  The rivets offered by one Jacob Davis, a Nevada tailor, in 1873 to the work pant offered by one Levi Strauss patented into the blue jean as we know with the coveted 501 becoming a staple for the embodiment of the jean in 1890.

The Levi Strauss company's 501 has gone from a 'form follows function' workwear piece to become a symbol of American craftsmanship and a signature American hallmark akin to baseball and apple pie.  This year marks another subtle rebranding of the 501 with a campaign to celebrate the unique interpretations of the original icon by famous and not so famous fans from around the world called "501 Interpretation".  Along with this campaign is an offering of the 501 in the same button straight fit in various new colors like mineral, chalk blue, ivy green, true chino and white and unique washes to give it a softer hand.  Peruse the fan submissions of the 501 interpretations in a digital photo gallery at www.LEVIS501.com and see how the effects of one article of clothing has inspired, motivated and stimulated its wearers to probably go on adoring it another 140 years.

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