It’s the straight leg, red tab, button fly blue jean embraced by everyone from factory workers to movie stars.
The jeans, first made 148 years ago, became a statement of rebellion in the 1950s thanks to actors like Marlon Brando and then morphed into the canvas of rebellion as the youth of the 70s and ‘80s declared their intentions through their torn up 501s.
But while the 501 attained its iconic status decades before, no era’s style was defined by the 501 quite like the 1990s. Everyone from every corner of the cultural landscape embraced its rugged simplicity and casual cool look.
Kate Tomkins, who owns Midwest Trader in Ebenezer Place, said her first connection to Levi’s 501 goes back to 1992 when she first opened the store with her partner in Adelaide’s East End and sold their first product – a pair of vintage Levi’s 501 imported from LA.
“At that time, the most essential thing to have in your wardrobe was a pair of preloved men’s USA Levi’s 501s,” Tomkins says.
“We had a wall full of vintage 501s, from dark rigid denim to beat up and faded out dirty blues.
“This is still the character our customers want in their jeans; denim that has a few rips or fade outs that tell a story, denim that looks like you’ve lived in it forever. It embodies a true vintage rock n roll style that new jeans can’t replicate.”
Not only are these jeans a wardrobe staple, they’re also a throwback to the days when things were built to last, swimming against the tide of today’s disposable fashion.
Like most good things in life, Levi’s 501s look better with age, meaning you’ll have them for a lifetime.
Levi’s has always moved with the times – its jeans are testament to that – and is now looking at the importance of sustainability. It has developed a way to create their iconic 501 product using up to 96 per cent less water than typical denim finishing.
Becoming a more sustainable brand is important to Levi’s and is summed up in their mantra: Buy Better. Wear Longer.
Levi’s jeans have become one of the most recognisable garments of clothing in the world – capturing the imagination and loyalty of people over generations.
“They will never go out of style; Levi’s is the most legendary and iconic brand I can think of – it’s rare for a brand to have that status always,” Tomkins says.
For more information about Levi’s brand, its products and stores, please visit levis.com.au