On 20 May 1873, Jacob W. Davis, a tailor of Reno, Nevada, USA, and customer of Levi Strauss, a San Francisco merchant of clothes, patented the use of metal rivets on the pocket corners of Strauss’ overalls in order to avoid their breaking. Thanks to this patent and to an agreement between the two gentlemen, the first 501 jean model was born and so was the partnership between Jacob Davis and Levi Strauss.

 

Levi's 501 patent from 20 May, 1873
© from the book: "this is a pair of Levi’s”
Levi's 501 patent from 20 May, 1873

From that day on, Levi’s celebrates its iconic 501 jeans’ birth every year, as it marks the beginning of a revolution of wardrobes that a few years later started being worn by a very diverse cast of people, independent of age and social status – from workers to rock stars to presidents. Over time, the iconic rivet jeans have been aged, torn, repaired, mixed, mastered and styled most individually.

 

To broaden its 501 offer, Levi’s started releasing a series of skinny variants and shorts of the 501 fit (for both s/s 2017 and f/w 2017/2018) this year. And the company is also launching a limited 501 Day celebration collection, to be sold from 20 May, 2017, encompassing 501 exemplars only of a special edition 501 jean, 501 shorts and trucker vest.

 

Furthermore, Levi’s is launching the 5th episode of its 501 Documentary Series “The 501 Jean: Stories of an Original”. This latest documentary explores the relationship between music history, Levi’s and the 501, featuring iconic musicians such as Solange and Snoop Dogg.

 

During its 144-year-old history, the 501 jean model was constantly associated with music, both on and off the stage. As part of this tight connection the three limited edition 501 pieces aim to honor rock ‘n’ roll.  The pieces feature hand-distressed denim, scribbled embroidery and vintage customization. As an inspiration, the Levi’s design team went on a road trip to the American music capitals of Austin, Nashville, New York and San Francisco. Their memory sketches from the tour have been transferred onto the pieces of the limited capsule collection with nods to each city: bats for Austin, the Golden Gate Bridge for San Francisco, Folk City for New York, Music Row for Nashville and more.

 

Denim vest from the Levi's 501 Day celebration collection
© Levi's
Denim vest from the Levi's 501 Day celebration collection

"We took a pair of old 501s, battered and worn, graffiti'd them all over and plastered them up with hand embroideries and patches,” explains Jonathan Cheung, head of design, Levi’s. I thought 'they're so complicated, we're never going to reproduce these' - but we did!"

 

In addition to the 501 Day celebration collection, Levi’s is also calling on fans of the brand to send in little videos about how they live in their 501 jeans, in order to create a video homage from the clippings afterwards.

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