The Levi’s 501 Documentary

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The Levi’s 501 button fly jeanthe original and first ever blue jean, was born on 20th May 1873 and over 140 years later, it is more popular than ever before. In celebration of 100 years of partnership with Cone Mills Denim in North Carolina, Levi’s presents a short documentary film, The 501 Jean: Stories of an Original. The film explores the lasting impact the Original 501 jean has had on cultural history. The 501 documentary has been screened in NYC, London, Buenos Aires and Caracas, and is now available to view online.

This three-part film is a story of modern America with the Levi’s 501 at the centre. Exploring the worlds of work, style and rebellion, the film features interviews with pioneers such as Henry Rollins, John Baldessari, Scott Schuman, Andy Spade, Mark McNairy, Erin Wasson, Gary Burden, Eddie Huang, Jim Walrod, Kim Hastreiter, Mel Ottenberg, Michael Polish, Steven Alan, Alexandra Richard, Greg Chapman, Lee Ranaldo, Rachael Wang, Josh Peskowitz and many more.

 The film is narrated by Ramblin’ Jack Elliott, one of folk music’s most enduring characters. A protégé of Woody Guthrie in the late ’50s, Elliott has been hailed as an influence on artists from Bob Dylan and Pete Seeger, to the Rolling Stones and Grateful Dead. Earnest Greene of Washed out contributes to the original score. 


In the first episode of The 501 Jean: Stories of an Original, they trace the 501 Jean’s journey from a utilitarian garment for coal miners, cowboys, industrial workers, all the way to the creative workers who continue to wear it today.  


For the first time Levi’s are worn for their look, rather than function. With the cowboy films of the 1930s, everybody wanted a piece of the cowboy lifestyle. Hollywood stars adopt it for decades and the 501 becomes a style icon: continuing to inspire contemporary designers and style leaders. 


The 501®is a symbol for countercultures and has been sewn into the fabric of America interpreted many ways over many years. The Rebels of the 1950s proudly wore the 501 jean – adopted from the laborers after the Great Depression – and made it a symbol of irreverence and solidarity.  Worn by everyone from James Dean and Marlon Brando to Jack Kerouac and Jackson Pollock, the 501 jean became the emblem of youth and a symbol of rebellion. Rebels across the decades are united through outspokenness, individualism and their love of the 501.

Levi’s Spring/Summer Collection is available online and in selected size? store now.

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