How cool is my customized Levi’s trucker jacket?!
Jeans are one of the most worn pieces of clothing in the world and have become an essential part of many people’s wardrobes. From ripped up styles to clingy skinnies, we have our favourite styles.
The story of the first blue jeans began in 1873 in San Francisco, California with two immigrants Levi Strauss and Jacob Davis. On May 20, Levi Strauss & Co. celebrated the anniversary of the their first blue jeans.
I spoke to Nuholt Huisamen, the managing director of Levi Strauss South Africa about the brand and their Levi’s® 501® jean.
Tell us about the early years of the blue jean? Levi Strauss & Co. made the first blue
jean on May 20, 1873. It was on that day that Levi Strauss and Jacob Davis obtained a US patent on the process of putting rivets in men’s work pants for the very first time.
Were denim pants called jeans then? They were called “waist overalls” or “overalls” because the early pants were designed to literally be worn “over” your street clothes. After 1900, people began to wear them like regular pants and in 1960, fans adopted the name “jeans”.
Tell us about the trademark leather patch and the number 501? In 1886 the two horse brand leather patch was first used on the waist overalls. Its purpose was to demonstrate the strength of the pants and reinforce our status as the originator of patent rivetted clothing. We knew that the patent would go into the public domain around 1890 and decided to reinforce our message of originality and strength graphically.
The c1890 lot numbers were first assigned to the products being manufactured and the
now famous 501 is used to designate the famous copper-rivetted waist overalls.
What role have your jeans played in fashion from the early 1900s to now? Since its invention, the Levi’s® 501® jean has taken on a life of its own, from a utilitarian garment for coal miners, cowboys and industrial workers, all the way to the creative workers who continue to wear it today.
Your audience has changed from then to now, can you describe the 501 consumers
of today and how the jeans have evolved for today’s generation?
“The jean still appeals to a wide cross-section of consumers. It is worn by men and women of all ages who favour a classic straight leg jean and appreciate its originality.”
Last year we also introduced the 501®CT (Customised and Tapered) because 501® jean wearers have been customising their jeans for decades, most commonly tailoring the legs for a closer fit. So we thought: let’s do the work for them. We took the original and added a custom taper.
What is exciting about the Levi’s brand right now? Locally we are running the We are Original campaign and we put a call out to our fans to come and share their original Levi’s® style stories with us. We got such a great response and we have been featuring those beautiful and unique photos and stories as part of our social and digital campaign, celebrating how our consumers live in our jeans.
Globally, Levi’s is constantly innovating and the most recent announcement is the Levi’s Commuter™ x Jacquard by Google Trucker Jacket.
Available by next year, it is the first smart garment with Jacquard by Google technology woven in. The jacket allows users to stay connected with easy access to directions, information on nearby places, change their music, and answer calls just by touching the sleeve of their jacket.
This piece was first published in the Cape Argus on June 14 2016.
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