Levi’s® celebrates the 150th anniversary of its iconic 501® jeans

Levi's 501 150 years

The iconic 501® jeans turns 150 years old in May 20, 2023. It all began in the 1870s when Nevada Tailor Jacob Davis had a revolutionary idea – adding rivets to work pants pockets to improved durability and comfort. His vision became a reality with the help of Levi Strauss & Co., who were granted U.S Patent No 139121 for their invention on May 20, 1873 – forever changing global fashion norms.

In 1873, Levi Strauss & Co. revolutionized fashion with the invention of durable denim overalls – now known as blue jeans. The company strengthened their design by adding a back pocket on the right side that was secured and protected from tearing, thanks to two strategically-placed rivets at its corners.

Since its inception in 1891, Levi Strauss & Co. had always added the signature back pocket rivets to overalls for almost four decades until customer feedback forced them to reconsider this feature. Tom Mansfield wrote a letter of complaint in the 1930s citing issues with saddle wear and tear and upholstery damage when sitting on car seats, which ultimately led LS&Co. to revise their design specifications without those pesky metal buttons.

Customer complaints due to the strength of back-pocket rivets of the 501® jean scratching furniture, cars and saddles prompted LS&Co. to make a change in 1937. Instead of removing them altogether, they devised an innovative solution: keep the pocket rivets for their strength but cover them so that it would not scratch anything – patenting this under U.S Patent No 1999927 which allowed customers’ needs and wants to be satisfied simultaneously.

LS&Co saw the importance of ensuring customers were aware of their pocket construction change for the 501® jean. To ensure this was done in an impactful way, a special notice on brightly coloured paper was attached to each pair at just the right spot – delivering attention-grabbing clarity about its alterations.

Featuring the eye-catching salmon arrows pointing to the corners of pockets, a revolutionary new pocket flasher hit the stores with its unique “undercover” construction. At last, consumers no longer had to worry about dreadful scratches on saddles or furniture – thanks to this remarkable innovation.

The 501® Jeans is a timeless classic that transcends age, gender and style boundaries. This iconic five-pocket design has been embraced by everyone from pop stars to politicians as the epitome of effortless cool: it’s empowering and provides an opportunity for creative self-expression. As if that weren’t enough reason to add these jeans to your wardrobe, they also get better with wear.

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