Every week, our Historian Tracey Panek shares throwback stories from the Archives and the company.
Our Fab Favorites asks LS&Co. insiders for the low-down on their top picks from the Levi Strauss & Co. Archives. I met up with Jonathan Cheung, Senior Vice President of Design Innovation, to drill down on his favorite Levi’s® denim. It was no surprise to me that Jonathan has discerning taste and would choose an unusually tailored vintage piece—our first flare.
In 1889, 130 years ago, Levi Strauss & Co. launched a new product called “Spring Bottom Pants.” Tailoring history suggests that “spring” meant “flare,” and that custom tailors would “cut more or less spring as desired.” It was a popular style in the late 19th century, and LS&Co. decided to make our Spring Bottom Pants in a unique blue and gold denim. They had the famous copper rivets, just like our 501® jeans, but these pants weren’t meant for laborers. They were advertised to workers such as bookkeepers and factory superintendents; a middle management kind of product. By the turn of the century we were making these in black denim, as well.
Along with its unusual flare, our Spring Bottom pants had uniquely-shaped back pockets. “Imagine trying to make those curves?” Jonathan said incredulously, pointing to the “smile” style back pockets. “It’s not easy. They could have done a straight pocket, but they didn’t.”
Spring Bottoms had tailored finishes like lining and stitched front pocket detailing. They also had a button-fly typical of other pants of the day. But instead of our standard metal suspender buttons, they featured distinctive bright brass ones.
Other details? A riveted back cinch and a triangular patch placed sewn into the middle back waist. Other versions of the Spring Bottom Pants had a square patch placed on the right back side. The Levi Strauss & Co. Archives has a beautiful pair of blue gold denim Spring Bottoms with a middle crease. They look as if the pants have been freshly pressed.
Check out Jonathan’s reaction to our Spring Bottom Pants:
Keep up with the LS&Co. Archives and other cool LS&Co. heritage news by following Tracey on Twitter, @TraceyPanek, and stay tuned to Unzipped!