Daily FashionEditors Pick

501® Jeans: The number that changed everything

The blue jean. It’s easy to take the style staple for granted, but there’s a storied history to this casual essential and it all starts with one auspicious numeral. Mystery surrounds why “501®” was chosen, but one thing is for certain: it’s the number that changed everything. It all started with Levi’s very first collab: San Francisco wholesaler Levi Strauss and Nevada-based tailor Jacob Davis linked up to revolutionise work pants with the addition of durable rivets to make them even stronger. The denim duo patented this process on May 20, 1873, creating the blueprint for all blue jeans – and the rest is history. We now know this icon as Levi’s® 501® Jeans.

The denim legend’s distinctive five-pocket design, straight fit and button fly has come to signify rule-breaking, gender-bending, wear-it-how-you-want effortless cool. What was once a utilitarian uniform has become the fit favoured by everyone from pop stars and politicians to tech rebels and rockers – and it’s the blank canvas for the creative expression of style-setters. Whether you *just* added them to your cart or wear a thrifted pair that’s lived-in to perfection, the legacy of 501® Jeans continues to represent the past, present and future of iconic style – a fit that really does get better with time.

To celebrate 149 years of epic denim, Levi’s teamed up with local visionaries who truly embody the spirit of the 501®, paying homage to the pair that started it all.

Marcus Harvey (@iammarcusharvey) is a vocalist, singer, producer and songwriter known for his progressive use of genre to create music that is both contemporary and an homage to the past. Marcus’s 2020 and 2021 releases have earned him multiple spots on the Apple music charts, with his latest EP, ‘You Still Don’t Know Me Yet’, reaching number 1 on the Apple Music RnB Charts on the first day of its release.

When I was young, growing up in the township, Levi’s was a status symbol. Still is. Levi’s 501® is a classic forever. – Marcus Harvey

Obiazi Olivia Williams (@ollivia.williams) is a model and a member of the queer black community. She believes in the power and profound impact of sharing her pronouns [she/her/they]. Obiazi uses her modelling career and her online presence to hold space for the queer community and proudly express her identity.

I feel good in my 501® jeans. When wearing the 501® I get to express myself through them. The ability to feel masculine and feminine with them on – at times I think it’s a perfect description of who I am. – Obiazi Williams

Cut them, crop them, cuff them, oversize them – the 501® has gone from utilitarian uniform to true icon status. Crafted to fit a wide range of sizes comfortably – and stylishly – there’s a reason why this pair never goes out of style. This season, Levi’s added a new addition to the family: The 501® ’90s – a modern take on the jeans that defined a decade. Inspired by the slouchy silhouette of yesteryear, the nineties-inspired pair boasts a universally flattering fit.

Levi’s® 501® Jeans are available for purchase online at Levi.co.za, in Levi’s® stores and at select retail partners.

Okay, so I'm the Editor-in-Chief, and I kind of like pineapples on my pizza... Oh, I write sometimes too.

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