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Levi’s Celebrates 148 Years of Jeans on 501 Day

Levi’s week-long 501 Day celebration comes to a head on Thursday, with live performances and poignant conversations from a star-studded cast of brand ambassadors and special products drops.

Every year on May 20, the heritage denim brand honors the history of the iconic fit, its original style that dates back 148 years, when dry goods salesman Levi Strauss and a tailor named Jacob David were granted a patent to put rivets on pants to reinforce them for mining work. The jeans, which feature a loose, straight fit, has since served as the inspiration for all other jeans and was even the subject of a documentary that debuted in 2016.

For this year’s celebration, Levi’s tapped seven “original voices,” including professional tennis player Naomi Osaka, model and media personality Hailey Bieber, YouTube star Emma Chamberlain, actor and model Barbie Ferreira, actor and rapper Jaden Smith, professional football player Marcus Rashford, and professional basketball player Shai Gilgeous-Alexander.

Thursday’s event includes a YouTube coffee chat with Chamberlain and Bieber, followed by live performances from Kehlani, Eric Nam, Joyce Wrice, and Duckwrth, and concludes with a Clubhouse’s Culture Club conversation with Smith, Osaka, Chamberlain, Gilgeous-Alexander and Ferreira, along with surprise guests.

The day also includes limited-edition drops, including collectible trading cards and special variations of the 501 fit specifically catered to denim heads. Levi’s introduced its Levi’s Vintage Clothing 1955 Japan 501, which features Japanese selvedge denim fabric  and all details, including the back patch, red tab, rivets, packaging and button stamps, translated into Japanese.

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Levi’s celebrates 501 Day on May 20 with special performances, conversations and product drops that honor 148 years of jeans.
Levi’s Vintage Clothing 1955 Japan 501 Courtesy

“We wanted to celebrate this mutual commitment to quality, craftsmanship and meticulous attention to detail with a limited run jean that’s also made in Japan,” said Paul O’Neill, head designer for Levi’s Vintage Clothing at Levi Strauss & Co. “The 501, after all, has such a long and important history in Japan—to this day, vintage 501s are very covetable jeans on the Japanese market—so it seemed only natural that this limited-edition jean should be yet another classic 501 from the Levi’s archives.”

The brand also teamed with cult Japanese brand Wasted Youth on a ’90s streetwear-inspired 501 fit. Available in jet black, the jean includes the phrase “Don’t bother me anymore” embroidered on the back right pocket. Every purchase of the style comes with a “Don’t bother me anymore” pin.

Limited quantities of both styles are available in select Levi’s stores, as well as on the website and the Levi’s App.

In spite of the global lockdowns of 2020, Levi’s celebrated 501 Day last year in a similar fashion, with live performances from artists such as Swae Lee, Ari Lennox, HAIM, Mahalia, Raja Kumari, G Flip and Se So Neon, as well as DIY sessions and presentations on the 501 jeans’ history.