At Levi Strauss & Co., we’ve celebrated the All-American game of football with our unique style and flare for decades. And as the name behind our favorite team’s home base, Levi’s® Stadium, we’ve got good reason to cheer on the San Francisco 49ers at the Super Bowl this Sunday! But fans might also be surprised to learn that our connections to the game—and the team—date to the 49ers football debut. Here’s a look at several Super Bowl, 49ers and football flashbacks.
Levi’s® and the 49ers’ First Quarterback
In 1950, LS&Co. created a promotion featuring a smiling sports star dressed in a red and black plaid Levi’s® shirt. “Today’s best buy in a wool shirt,” the advertisement touted, “tailored by the makers of Levi’s® Overalls.” The model? Frankie Albert—the San Francisco 49ers’ first quarterback. In college, Frankie led the 1940 Stanford University football team to an undefeated season and the Rose Bowl. After serving in the Navy during World War II, he returned home to join the 49ers for their 1946 opening season.
America’s Finest Jeans . . .to Play Football
Frankie Albert’s Levi’s® shirt advertisements would have appealed to football fathers, but for their sons, Levi’s® used football to promote America’s finest jeans (the updated name for Levi’s® overalls) as stylish sportswear a decade later. Teenagers began appearing frequently in 1960s LS&Co. advertisements. Promotions featured teens dressed in original 501® jeans, stretch Levi’s® and new pre-shrunk jeans—the zippered 505®. One 1963 teen promotion challenged football players to test their “passing arm” in the “Levi’s Quarterback Contest.”
… Or Watch Football In Style
Fast forward to 1984, when Levi Strauss & Co. introduced the Stadium Pant. These Levi’s® pants came with a zipper fly, elastic waist, side pockets, and a wallet-sized back pocket. It was the perfect pant for the comfort-seeking football fan.
Dockers® Gets In On The Game
For those who watch the biggest match of the year from the comfort of their couches, Super Bowl ads are almost as epoch as the game. And so it was a no-brainer for the Dockers® brand, to launch several innovative commercials during the big game back in the early 2000s. During the 2002 Super Bowl, The Little Black Dress commercial aired, showing men at a cocktail party all wearing black dresses except for one lone man dressed in Dockers®. The ad implied that Dockers® had become as essential to a man’s wardrobe as the little black dress was in a woman’s wardrobe – not a far off implication considering that a survey that same year revealed that 7 out of 10 American males owned at least one pair of Dockers®.Dockers® would air its Wear the Pants® advertisement at the Super Bowl eight years later. The 2010 ad features men dressed only in underwear and shirts as they march over a hill singing, “We Wear No Pants.” The memorable Dockers® commercial became the most searched term on Google for two straight days after the game.
Levi’s® Stadium x Niners
In 2013, Levi Strauss & Co. got into the game in a serious way by scoring the naming rights of the new home of the 49ers. Employees cheered the announcement that May of the newly named Levi’s® Stadium at our annual Community Day event, where players from that year’s roster also signed a football to mark the milestone—a piece now on display in the Levi Strauss & Co. Archives.
Levi’s® 49er jackets, in black denim with 49er gold sleeves, debuted in time for the inaugural season at the new state-of-the-art stadium the following year. Nearly 1,000 construction workers — many of whom wore Levi’s® — lined the stairways leading to the stadium, cheering along with the crowd who jumped to their feet in appreciation and respect. After a quick countdown, the ribbon was cut and Levi’s® Stadium was officially open for business.
Super Bowl 50
In 2016, Levi’s® Stadium became the football finals venue when San Francisco hosted the historic Super Bowl 50 in 2016. At our flagship store on Market Street, the Levi’s® NFL Collection went on sale along with specialty Super Bowl 50 Levi’s® gear. OneRepublic lit up The City Stage Presented by Levi’s® in Super Bowl City—just a few blocks away from Levi’s® world headquarters.
Congratulations to our home team and the Kansas City Chiefs for making it to the 2020 Super Bowl. I’ll be watching dressed in my Levi’s®!
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!