The Levi’s 501 Jean: The Garment of the Outlaw

I just stumbled on this mini three-part documentary produced by Levi’s about the 501 Jean. Sure, one might see it as a long commercial for a heritage product, but it is extremely well done and very worthwhile. The history of 501 jeans and what they meant to people and our culture is undeniable, something few (if any) other denim brands can claim. This short documentary was released on YouTube in March in its full 18-minute length or as three separate episodes. As someone who’s worn 501s his whole life, I loved the entire thing. But the chapter that personally resonated with me was Episode 3: Rebellion.

Featuring interviews with Henry Rollins, legendary album designer Gary Burden, artist John Baldessari, photographer Hal Fisher, skater Karl Watson, designer Mark McNairy, creative director Greg Chappman and others sharing their connection to and history with 501s, the Rebellion episode is about the 501 Jean as “a symbol for countercultures as broad as biker clubs, punk, rap, skateboarding, and art movements. It can be seen on crowds through decades of activism: from beats to hippies, LGBTQ rights protests, to the fall of the Berlin Wall.”

It’s a fun, quick watch and a fabulous piece of storytelling about an iconic American product.

Here’s the rest of it…

Episode 1: Work

Episode 2: Style

The Full Documentary

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