Vintage Meets Visionary


February 2023


It’s not often life gives you the opportunity for a do-over. So when it came time to launch a fresh fit for the 150th anniversary of our 501® Original (aka our first-ever jeans), we loved the idea of releasing brand-new jeans that are actually based on really old jeans. And not just any old jeans. Old jeans with a look that’s totally vintage *and* totally modern. Old jeans with a fit that rounds out our current 501® lineup. Old jeans with a contentious past involving hate mail, alligators and one of 501® jeans’ most iconic attributes. Intrigued yet? Below, we give you the rundown on our new(ish) 501® ’54 Jeans, and prove old-fashioned has never looked better.


Pulled straight out of Levi’s® Archives and originally released in 1954, the scandalous 69-year-old pair you see here are our 501®Z Jeans—aka the first 501® jeans with a zip fly instead of a button fly. “People didn’t appreciate the zip,” says Men’s Design Director Steve Burns. “It was very controversial at the time. There were all these outraged letters coming back. Some guy said it’s like ‘peeing into the jaws of an alligator.’”

Yikes. Sorry about that mental image. But you’re welcome for 501® ’54 Jeans—the new button-fly reincarnation of that zippered pair from long ago. (Please don’t come for us, zipper zealots. We love a zip, too. 501® jeans just aren’t the place for them.)Fellow denimheads might clock, however, that we did keep other heritage details from the original zippered version—smaller back pocket shape and variations in thread color, weight and placement from current-day 501® Originals.

“Even on the inside, there are subtle, meaningful differences,” Steve says. “The button hole is grey, as opposed to matching navy. If you’re a bit of a nerd, you’ll get into it.”


Some guy said it’s like ‘peeing into the jaws of an alligator.

Steve Burns, Men’s Design Director



When we say there’s a 501® iteration for everyone, we mean it—cross our hearts, hope to dye (a little indigo joke for you there).

“We were looking at the importance of building a 501® fit portfolio that addressed all body types and style preferences,” says Steve. The 501® ’54 sits at your waist and features our distinct 501® anti-fit through the seat and thigh, but a slimmer straight leg. That counterbalance is just what the 501® family’s been missing. “You get that room and comfort up top which people appreciate, and then a slight taper gives it that modern edge,” Steve explains.

Thicker thighs fit nicely in these jeans, and the taper is great for showing off your sneaker collection.


When it comes to washes and special effects, you've basically got two options: 1) Keep it simple with the blank canvas approach of a clean indigo rinse or 2) Delve deep into the world of ripped, repaired, recrafted perfection.

“There’s a lot people DIY-ing and crafting their jeans today, especially coming out of lockdown,” says Steve. “There’s a trend of do-it-yourself repairing to make your jeans last longer, and also self-expression. You’re putting an element of you into jeans when they're customized.”

Maybe you’re into the well-worn appearance of vintage (permanent dirt stains and all). Say you love a total creative overhaul (that quilted patchwork is something special). Or perhaps you’re a fan of all the tears and stitch-on-stitch-on-stitch mending in between the two. In any case, these finishes let you show off jeans that already look like they’ve seen a few things.

Alrighty, that’s everything you need to know about 501® ’54 Jeans. Fun backstory? Check. Next chapter? That’s all you.


There’s a lot of people DIY-ing and crafting their jeans today. You’re putting an element of you into jeans when they’re customized.

Steve Burns, Men’s Design Director

Shop the entire 501® family online and in stores. For styling tips and outfit inspiration, follow us on Instagram and TikTok. Then tag @levis and #LiveinLevis to share your Levi’s® style with 
the world.