HAPPY 501® DAY!
Campaigns and Collaborations /
Every May, we celebrate the anniversary of Levi’s® first-ever blue jeans.
The official date is May 20 because it was on this day, back in 1873, that Levi Strauss and Jacob Davis were granted patent number 139,121 for the process of riveting work pants to make them stronger and more durable. We all know those work pants as the 501® Original, our five-pocketed, button-fly, straight fit that would go on to become the blueprint of modern day jeans everywhere.
But this May is something special. This May, the most iconic denim in the world turns 150 years old. It’s our 501® Sesquicentennial (dare you to say that one time fast). Now that’s cause to party.
From limited-edition styles to exclusive collabs to once-in-a-lifetime events, we’re making denim history and inviting you to join in. The easiest way to participate? Getting yourself some 501® jeans. Check out some of the newest chapters in our 501® story below.
A BANNER YEAR
We admittedly went a little extra, extra with this 501® Banner Print capsule. But that’s because if there was ever a time to shout your love for Levi’s® and 501® jeans all over your body, this year is it.
“I’m a super nerd about Levi’s®,” says Senior Textile Designer Holly Hapka, who hand-painted the design and—no lie—wrote her very first elementary school research paper on 501® jeans. “So, I was thinking about our brand heritage and how to play it up.”
Inspired by Levi’s® advertising banners from as far back as the 1930s, Holly and the rest of the design team clocked countless hours color-matching and ensuring the 501® Banner Print’s fonts, graphics and verbiage were as authentic as possible to those vintage banners in Levi’s® Archives.
When it came time to screen-print it, the process was purposefully random—so that every single jean, Trucker Jacket, shirt, bag and bucket hat is unlike any other.
“If you and your friend both order a Trucker Jacket, you could put them next to each other and they’ll be different,” Holly says. “I think that one-of-one quality makes it extra special.”
That one-of-one quality makes it extra special.
– Holly Hapka, Senior Textile Designer
BIG BIRTHDAY DENIM ENERGY
Put on your party pants. But seriously—we made this exclusive, selvedge 501® Original so that even though it’s our birthday, you’d feel like the guest of honor.
You may remember that selvedge, or “self-edge,” is that white fabric strip that runs along the inside hem of high-quality denim. If you flip the cuff and see that strip, you know your jeans were woven on a traditional narrow-width shuttle loom—meaning they’re from a small batch, highly durable and made to look and feel better over time. (In short, these are some really nice jeans.)
But what makes this pair supremely special is the “150 YEARS OF 501® | LEVI STRAUSS & CO.” message we stitched along the premium selvedge fabric—commemorating 150 years of originality and quality craftsmanship.
Show it off by rolling up the cuff, or even wearing the jeans inside out. Your party pants, your rules.
We love to call our 501® jean the ultimate blank canvas for self-expression. And after all this time, we’ve seen pretty much every sort of customization you could imagine. So to honor a century and a half of people making Levi’s® their own, we created limited-time finishes that nod to some of our favorite personalized pairs over the years.
“It’s inspiring—this idea of picking up mementos from your life and travels and putting them on jeans,” says Steve Burns, Men’s Design Director. “It’s like making them into a tapestry of memories.”
To find the tapestries (a.k.a. vintage 501® jeans) that would become their muses this season, our design team hit up the biggest and best thrift stores, and even ventured into Levi’s® Archives. (Psst. Learn more about their creative process in our new “Meet the Designer” series.)
Sometimes they recreated a DIY-element exactly, and sometimes they modernized it or added their own personal touch. In any case, every rip, repair and recraft tells a story—waiting for you to continue it on.
It’s inspiring—this idea of picking up mementos from your life and travels and putting them on jeans. It’s like making them into a tapestry of memories.
– Steve Burns, Men’s Design Director
BE PART OF THE GREATEST STORY EVER WORN
501® Day may technically be about a patent, but 501® Jeans are about something you can’t patent: style. Rule-breaking, gender-bending, never-worn-the-same style. The kind that never fades no matter how many centuries it sees. Now’s your chance to own and style a piece of denim history—to start writing your very own chapter in the greatest story ever worn.