#501Day: Celebrating 144 Years of Iconic Cool

Levi Strauss & Co.
May 19, 2017

On May 20, Levi’s® celebrates the anniversary of the day that would forever change the way that people dress: the day the blue jean was invented.

For 144 years, the iconic Levi’s® 501® jean has lent effortless cool to the lower halves of working men, rock stars, and everyone in between. In fact, the wardrobe staple’s enduring appeal earned it the title of “the fashion item of the 20th century” by Time magazine.

“I could give you a hundred reasons why I think the 501® is the best piece of clothing design in human history, from a pure form-meets-function standpoint to its unparalleled cultural history,” said Jonathan Cheung, Levis® Head of Global Design.

“But you know what? It’s the bum. The backside. The rear end. The 501® bum is the all-time best.”

Each year, 501® Day focuses on a different theme that is reflected in the local celebrations, limited-edition product and documentary episode that is produced.

This year’s theme is a nod to the longstanding love affair between the music industry and 501® jeans:

  • Concerts: We’re hosting concerts across Asia and the Americas, including Shanghai (Ronghao Li, Joyce Jonathan and Monkey Legion), Tokyo (Tofu Beats, Licaxxx, Billie Idle, Lick-G), San Francisco (Vince Staples), Mexico City (Kinky and Reyno), and India (Parek & Singh, Fink, BadBadNotGood,; Funk Assasin, Midival Punditz). If you want to follow along online, check Levi’s® out on Snapchat (@levis_official). In Europe, fans will help us create a 501® mashup music video showcasing sounds and images related to the 501 jean.
  • Product: Levi’s® is releasing a limited-edition 501® Day celebration collection, featuring three pieces that honor rock ‘n’ roll: a jean, a short and a Trucker vest. The Levi’s® design team went on a road trip to the American music capitals of Austin, Nashville, New York and San Francisco, doodling and sketching memories captured from each leg of the tour. These visual remembrances adorn the celebration 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. The collection will be available on 501® Day, so set a reminder to hit up this Saturday!
  • 501® Documentary: The latest episode of the documentary series “The 501® Jean: Stories of an Original” will debut on May 20, exploring the relationship between music and Levi’s®, and featuring musicians such as Snoop Dogg and Dwight Yoakam. As Solange Knowles says in the film: “Denim is such a universal language of style; there are so many ways to interpret what your style is through jeans.”

501® Day is celebrated each year on May 20 — the date in 1873 that Levi Strauss and Jacob Davis received their patent for riveted workpants (called “overalls” then).

Since then, the 501® has evolved through the decades to fit the style needs of the moment, but has managed to remain emblematic of self-expression throughout. The jeans have graced famous forms across generations — from Marlon Brando and Marilyn Monroe in the 1950s, to Steve Jobs in the 1980s, to the grunge rockers of the 1990s, and even President Barack Obama in his more leisurely moments.

“Whether you wear the 501®, 501® Skinny, 501®CT, 501® Stretch or even 501® cut-offs, your jeans are a marriage between a tried-and-true classic with a modern twist,” said Karyn Hillman, Levi’s® Chief Product Officer. “The 501® is the sweet spot that honors the legacy and heritage of the past while responding to the energy of today — and that is where the magic is.”

Of course, here at Levi Strauss & Co., the 501® look that matters most is yours! So don’t forget to show us how you’re celebrating #501Day on May 20.