The Levi Strauss & Co. archives now boast the oldest pair of women’s blue jeans.
Nicknamed the Viola, after the jean’s original owner Viola Longacre, Levi’s says the jeans were likely purchased in the midst of the Great Depression in the 1930s and almost 50 years after the patented creation of the men’s blue jeans.
The vintage pair are believed to be a prototype of women’s Levi’s Lot 401, created to test the market before Lady Levi’s Lot 701 officially launched sometime later. The jean’s back patch made with fabric and less expensive sundries like the doughnut buttons, mean that the pair were most likely sold at a lower price than the 701.
According to Levi’s Historian Tracey Panek, the jeans requite the find. Women seldom wore the modern-day staple in the 1930s, giving the re-claimed pair more clout among the brand’s impressive archives, which include 124-year-old Levi’s found in a family trunk.
“The Viola jean is a remarkable new addition to the Levi Strauss & Co. archives, and provides invaluable information on the evolution of women’s clothing more broadly,” said Panek. “It also helps us better understand the women who first wore our blue jeans—young, independent and fashion-forward—and the larger cultural context of the Levi’s brand.”