Born in a time of ultimate self-expression, bootcut jeans and bell bottoms hit the scene in the 1960s as part of the counter-culture movement. It was an era of challenging the status quo through every means — even fashion. And so, personalized denim was born, celebrated for its unfinished hems, DIY patchwork and brightly colored embroidery.
Flower children and suburbanites alike began splitting the seams of their straight-leg jeans and widening the leg openings by sewing in panels of different fabric – the ideal fit to wear with boots. This makeshift look eventually became flared and bootcut jeans as we know them today.
50 years later, we look back at the Levi’s® jean styles that propelled these trends into becoming the classics of today.
In 1969, the 517™ Boot Cut Jean was introduced as “full from the knee for the boot,” and made with Sta-Prest® fabric. Wearable and wrinkle resistant, this style was a game-changer and is still available to this day. For a modern take on the iconic fit try the 527™ Slim Boot Cut, with a slim fit through the thigh and a slimmer leg opening.
The 646 Bell Bottom launched in 1969 as “the jeans with the famous fit,” made with pre-shrunk cotton and “styled long and lean with a flare for fashion.” Today, bell bottoms are back on our radar – the Ribcage Split Flare is a bold new favorite that will definitely turn heads. They’re slim through the hip and thigh with a split cut into the side of the flared leg opening.
We are constantly reinventing the classics. For throwback styles that feel fresh, shop our modern bootcut and high-rise jeans. Looking for more style inspiration from the past? Check out Levi’s® Vintage Clothing where we reproduce fits, fabrics and details of the bygone eras.
Doug Hansen, 501® jeans converted to bell bottoms, 1970
Levi’s® pocket patchwork customized bell bottoms, ca. 1966
SilverTab bell bottoms, 1990s
Marble-dyed Levi's® 684 Flare Jeans, 1980s
Custom-appliquéd bell bottoms, 1970s
501® jeans customized into flares. Decorated Denim Event - Latin America, 1999