Trending / August 2020


Put Your Backpack in a Time Machine

DIY Backpack Header img

Graham Oh, the 17-year-old son of our merchandising director, has a pretty sweet collection of Levi’s® 501® Jeans (he prefers them skinny). And since the 501® started everything, it’s the perfect jean to wear with the priceless vintage backpack that he unearthed from an old, abandoned gold mine near Levi Strauss’s first… 


Graham took one of our new sustainable backpacks (in bright yellow, no less) and utterly transformed it backwards. “I decided to embrace Levi’s® and its roots. I’ve been to historical gold country on field trips and I decided to make it look like it was from that time period.” Here’s how he did it:

Things to prepare


Sanding backpack edge

Step 1

Destroy your backpack. Sand using sandpaper or a sanding tool. “I did it more on areas that would typically be more rubbed off,” Graham says, “like the seams and edges.”


Step 2

Poke holes in it. “I also punctured a couple holes in the top. I tried not do too many,” Graham says, “so it’s still usable and functional.”

Graham Spray painting

Step 3

Tape off the parts you don’t want to get paint on, such as the hardware and, hey, the Levi’s® logo. Spray paint. “I used grey and two shades of brown,” Graham says. “One lighter and one darker, spraying randomly to make it look dirty and old.”


Step 4

Darken deeper areas, like the folds, with black spray paint. “I have an airbrush, so I used that.”

Graham Sketching on backpack

Step 5

Using the pencil and ruler, lightly sketch out the drawing. Create the mountains and picks using brown, black, grey and white acrylic paint.


Step 6

For the lettering, print out images of a font you like (If you don’t have access to a printer, you can hand-letter the words).

Graham painting on backpack

Step 7

Place the masking tape sticky side down on your cutting board. Put the paper with the font on top of it. Cut into the paper with your utility knife, tracing the font outline with your blade, to create your stencil. Make sure you’re cutting into the tape, too.


TIP: Keep the paper firm by using 4 strips of tape to secure the four sides. When you’re finished cutting, remove the 4 strips and the paper. Your tape stencil is underneath.


Step 8

Stick the stenciled tape, sticky side down, on the flat surface of the backpack and paint the words in white acrylic. In this way, lay out each letter one by one.


TIP: Make sure the tape is down firmly to avoid paint bleed outside the font stencil. Also make sure your paint is not runny.

DIY completed!

Step 9

Let dry. You’re done!

Shop new sustainable backpacks (in every color) and Levi’s® 501® Jeans at levi.com

Learn more about how we Reuse, Reimagine, Recycle.

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