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Levi’s Unveils a 501 Experience in San Francisco

The 501 jean is celebrating a major milestone in its hometown this week.

From May 19-27, Levi’s is taking over San Francisco’s historic Skylight at the Armory to fete the 150th anniversary of the 501. The popup 501 Experience features an archive museum, factory, marketplace and opportunities for customization.

The museum, called Chapters, brings to life the 501’s place in history and its cultural impact. The exhibit demonstrates how the 501 “went from workwear clothing of hardworking laborers and cowboys to a product that mirrored the course of socio-cultural history around the world and transformed fashion,” Levi’s stated.

Denim worn by Bay Area activist Harvey Milk and Sally Ride, America’s first female astronaut, are displayed alongside unique custom artist-made jeans.  A blue Levi’s AMC Gremlin from the ’70s and an operational denim loom that will produce “made in the USA” denim are also on site.

Based on Levi’s Eureka Innovation Lab in San Francisco, the 501 Factory serves as a mixed-use space that houses the brand’s most “inspirational customization efforts.” Visitors to the 501 Factory will witness the denim production process from loom to pattern to cut and sew, and will have access to a full suite of laser customizations, washes, and arcade finishes

Guests will also have the rare opportunity to look into Levi’s toolbox and create a pair of “Made in San Francisco” 501 jeans, following a special consultation with Bart Sights, Levi Strauss & Co.’s VP of technical innovation. Only 150 pairs will be created, each hand numbered and outfitted with special anniversary sundries.

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At the onsite Denim Workshop visitors can repair their Levi’s pieces, shop for vintage Levi’s 501 jeans, and participate in hands-on workshops on sustainability, upcycling and denim design from brand partners, including upcycling design expert Nicole McLaughlin and creative studio 625 Industries.  

A popup store, with a built in Tailor Shop for customization, houses classic and exclusive 501 styles, while a hometown marketplace features San Franciscan vendors like Verve Coffee Roasters, Woodshop, Tunnel Records and Humphry Slocombe Ice Cream.

Levi’s is taking the party global with “special club shows” in San Francisco, Tokyo, Paris and London on May 20, also known as 501 Day. The shows are part of Levi’s partnership with Rolling Loud, the global hip-hop music festival organizer. 

South Korean girl group, NewJeans, will also celebrate 501 Day in Seoul with a live performance.