The Levi’s® 501® jeans, one of the most enduring symbols of fashion and the model from which all subsequent jeans have been derived, will celebrate their 150th anniversary in 2023. Over the course of its bright 150-year existence, millions of innovators, risk-takers, experimenters, thinkers, icons, and creatives have donned the 501® Original.
In order to encourage a new generation to create the next chapter, The Greatest Story Ever Worn commemorates the amazing history of the 501® jeans and highlights its contributions to many historical, cultural, and personal occasions.
The 501® jeans in The Greatest Story Ever Worn are presented as an ever-expanding narrative that is written and rewritten by everyone who pulls the fifth button. In excess of some pants, they are one individual’s story, yet everybody’s story. From everyday heroes to unbelievable icons, this ever-expanding narrative features a collection of characters, events, aspirations, and memories.
The 501® has been a staple of so many human experiences for as long as any other product, let alone clothing. Levi’s® 501® jeans have evolved from their humble beginnings as workwear pants into a blank canvas for self-expression that transcends class and culture. The Greatest Story Ever Worn campaign aims to celebrate the 501® legacy, its unparalleled breadth and global relevance, and to inspire the next chapters. This is an incredible moment and milestone for the Levi’s® brand. Levi’s vice president of brand marketing, Chris Jackman.
Precious Cargo, the first film based on history, tells the story of how 501® jeans came to Kingston, Jamaica, in the 1970s, and how Jamaica changed and made them their own. The film, which was directed by Melina Matsoukas and shot by Oscar-nominated cinematographer Bradford Young, is a celebration of the island’s unique style, rhythm, and soul that has reverberated all over the world.
“Some of the early Levi’s spots actually inspired me to pursue commercial filmmaking. Being a part of their cinematic legacy now is an honor. With this piece, we were able to pay homage to a small but powerful story from the extensive history of Levi’s, and I always gravitate toward brands and creatives that lean into authentic storytelling. I believe that our bravery resulted in the creation of a beautiful film because everyone involved was willing to push the notion of commercialism. Melina Matsoukas The second film, Fair Exchange, is about a son who traded in his beloved family pet the cow for a pair of 501® Jeans, much to the dismay of his family. A film about 501® jeans as a beacon for something bigger—a dream—is shot in a cold Georgian winter by acclaimed cinematographer Kasper Tuxen and directed by Martin de Thurah.
Finally, the true story of a devoted Levi’s® wearer who requested to be buried in his 501® jeans is told in the third movie, Legends Never Die. This is a dying wish that a lot of people have expressed to the company over the years. This particular fan requested that all funeral attendees also don their 501® jeans. The film, which was also directed by Martin de Thurah, is a beautiful reflection on the kind of love that would motivate a group of people to show up in jeans for a beloved friend and family member. It’s a celebration of humanity and the unbreakable bond between a man who truly lived his life in his Levi’s® 501® jeans.
I was intrigued by the challenge of writing mini stories that, taken together, tell a larger story. Being able to celebrate the 150th anniversary of Levi’s with some of my favorite people was a wonderful opportunity. Martin de Thurah The release of The Greatest Story Ever Worn marks the 150th anniversary of the 501® jeans. Throughout the year 2023, there will be milestone celebrations all over the world and additional stories shared.