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Levi’s Releases a Documentary on the 501 Jean

Levi’s released a short documentary, honoring the history of the iconic 501 jean. The film is also an homage to the brand’s partnership with Cone Denim Mills, with whom Levi’s is celebrating the 100th anniversary of the Golden Handshake, a gentleman’s agreement to work together forever.

The 17-minute, three-part film directed by Harry Israelson and narrated by folk music legend Ramblin’ Jack Elliott was screened globally beginning on March 15th in New York City, London, Buenos Aires and Caracas. The film features commentary from some of fashion and culture’s figureheads, including Steven Alan, Andy Spade and Henry Rollins.

The 501 jean came to be in 1873, 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. In time, the pants developed the characteristic red thread along the line of the selvedge, which is now called redline selvedge. They also developed shrink-to-fit, meaning that moisture shrinks the jeans more in the legs than in the waist for a better fit.

The film explains that following the popularity of Western films in the 1930s, when the cowboy entered the popular imagination, people began wearing jeans for their look rather than their function. Through interviews with a great variety of people, the film demonstrates that 501s are now worn by everyone: from farmers to bikers to furniture makers to musicians.