Saturday, May 25, 2013

The History of Levi's Jeans: 150-Year Anniversary of The Iconic Denim Celebrated

Please enjoy this great history of Levi's with some blue jean-inspired music and Levi's commercials thrown in! 

1853: Levi Strauss and Co. Born

Bavarian-born Levi Strauss moves to gold rush era San Francisco to open a dry goods business. He sells clothes, boots, and other dry goods to the small retail stores of the American West. 

1872: The Rivets 
Jacob Davis, a tailor from Reno, Nevada, teams with Levi Strauss to create and patent work wear riveted-for-strength made of brown cotton duck and true blue denim.

1873: The Blue Jean is Born
On May 20, 1873, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office grants patent no. 139121 to Levi Strauss & Co. and Jacob Davis for their invention. This is how the blue jean originally called XX was born. 

1866: Two Horses
The two horse logo demonstrates the incredible strength of Levi's clothing. The logo is first branded onto the leather patch of the XX jeans in 1866 and is still used today.

1890: From Double X to 501
The original XX blue jean is given its iconic "501" lot number

1895: Performance Gear
Levi Strauss & Co. introduces its first bicycle pants. It only takes another 116 years for them to come out with Levi's Commuter, a multi-functional product designed for the modern cyclist.

1902: A Philanthropic Spirit
When Levi Strauss passes away in September, his four nephews take over the business and carry out his numerous bequests to Bay Area charities serving children and the poor. 

1906: Rumble and Fire
On April 18, the San Francisco fire and earthquake destroy the headquarters and two factories of Levi Strauss & Co. Employee salaries are continued and and temporary headquarters are opened to keep employees working. A new factory is built at 420 Valencia Street.

1908:The Two Horse Trademark is registered in Japan and Levi's global reach begins in earnest with markets like Australia and South Africa soon to follow.

1912: Child's Play
LS & Co. introduces Koveralls for children: a one piece denim play suit. This year also sees the introduction of khaki pants and coats to the company's line of clothing.

1918: For the Ladies 
Freedom-Alls make their appearance. This tunic trouser outfit was designed to give women freedom of movement and release them from the restrictive clothing of the era.

1928: It's Official
LS & Co. registers the name Levi's as a trademark.

1930s: Go East, Young Man
Authentic cowboys wearing Levi jeans are elevated to mythic status and Western clothing becomes synonymous with a life of freedom and independence. Easterners who wanted an authentic cowboy experience head to dude ranches out West  where they purchase their first pair of Levi's and take them home to "wow" their friends and help spread the Western influence to the rest of the country.

1934: They Called Them "Lady Levi's"
The first jeans for women, they are made of pre-shrunk denim and constructed with many of the same features of the men's 501 jeans. They owe their feminine allure to a fashionably high nip in the waist. 

1936: Red Tab
The red tab is first placed on the right back pocket of the jeans and the word Levi's is stitched in white in all capital letters on one side only. The red tab was created to differentiate Levi jeans from competitors. 

1941: Waste Not, Want Not
Changes are made to Levi products in order to conform to rules set by the war Production Board for the conservation of raw materials. The famous arcuate back pocket stitching is painted instead of stitched to save thread. The back waistband cinch is completely removed, and to conserve metal, so are the watch pocket rivets. This time period also represents one of global expansion for the brand, showcasing the American icon on G.I.s overseas. 

1950s: Banned
The 1950s saw denim banned in some schools, especially in the East, for being a "bad influence." The portrayal of denim-clad "juvenile delinquents" in movies or on TV led many school administrators to prohibit denim in the classroom, fearing that wearing the "rebel uniform" would lead students to push against authority.

1954: At Your Leisure
The denim family is launched thanks to denim's new appeal as a leisure fabric, and what was once only for workers, cowboys, and rebels crosses the line into the world of casual attire. 

1960: Ahead of its Time
Levi Strauss & Co. opens its first factory in the South, located in Blackstone, Virginia. The company insists that the facility be integrated at a time when desegregation has not yet been mandated by federal law. 

1961: Kids These Days
The new, slimmer silhouettes of the 1960s inspire Slim Fits: a five-pocket twill trouser for young men. Teenagers call them White Levi's because no one knows what to call blue jeans that aren't blue. 

Early 1960s:
We do the shrinking for you. Pre-shrunk Levi's are introduced, relieving people of the process of a hot water denim marinade.

1964: Drest to Impress 
Levi Strauss & Co. patents the Sta-Prest process for creating permanent creases in fine trousers and shirts. The Sta-Prest pant collection is re-introduced in the Levi's Spring 2012 Collection.

1965: International Moment
The company's international division is created to pull together and expand all of the company's post-war distribution in Europe and Asia. 

1967: Batwing
The red housemark "batwing" is designed by Walter Landor & Associates and has, over the years, become shorthand for the Levi's brand itself. 

1973: The Art of Denim 
The company announces the Levi's Denim Art Contest and invites consumers to submit photos of their decorated jeans and jackets for a special judging. The winners tour American Folk Art museums in 1975. 

Damn Hippys: 

Let the Games Begin
Levi Strauss & Co. makes clothing for the athletes at Olympic Games in 1980 and 1984.

1984: We Get the Blues 
The famous 501 Blues television advertising campaign is launched at the Los Angeles Olympic Games. 

1986: Dressing Boomer 
Levi's introduces Dockers brand, filling a niche for the baby boomer dads who need going back to school wear and something to fill the wardrobe gap between Levi's and the business suit. 

another great song that mentions blue jeans...

Keep reading! Hey, we are talking about 140 years of jean making! 

1989: Looking to the Future With an Eye on the Past 
The company's 150-plus-year history is captured at the main Levi's headquarters in San Francisco. 

1991: Terms of Engagement 
Levi's creates the first comprehensive set of standards for contractors and worldwide franchises to help promote fair labor standards and workers' rights.

Must-see Brad Pitt Levi's commercial:

Another must see! 

Turns out there are many epic Levi commercials, I will try to include the best ones! 

1996: Retro Chic
The history of Levi's is kept alive by the launch of Levi's Vintage Clothing: a line that faithfully reproduces the fits, fabrics, and characteristics of historic Levi garments.

1999: Fashion Item of the Century
Time Magazine names the 501 jeans the fashion item of the century. In the same year, the 501 jean is reverse engineered and Engineered Jeans are launched worldwide.

2010: The Shape of Things
Levi's curve jeans for women are introduced. Using a revolutionary fit system based on shape, Curve ID was created as a result of studying more than 60,000 body scans and listening to women from all around the world of all shapes and sizes.

2011: Born to Bike 
Urban cyclists around the country adopted jeans as part of their commuting uniforms. Inspired by the trend, Levi's invents the Commuter Line: a multi-functional performance product designed for cyclists all over the world. 

Here it is in action! 

2012: Apocalypse Cancelled, Zombie-Proof Levi's... Check!
The revolution is here, we just don't know it yet. Young and old prepare for a new denim-filled world.

And for the ultra cool.....

2013: Present
Recycling is where it is at, the world must do its part and Levi's is, too, with a major recycling campaign.

Remember to recycle! 

a few cute ideas for recycled Levi's

I can't say I'd carry this but I'm sure it was fun to make...

Another Levi purse...

Some great ideas for recycled clothing are out there, so get creative! Maybe we'll have our own art contest! 

In today's world, at least we can say the playing field has been leveled out. Hand-me-downs are now chic, and thrift store shopping has been made super cool again. Long gone are the days of paying $200.00 for torn Levi's on Melrose!

Epic Levi's Ballet Commercial:

Seattle's Macklemore... "Proof" 

Thank you for reading this -- was way fun to learn about and blog about, we will have to add to it every year! 

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