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Levi's reproducing jeans first made 151 years ago

The company says the reproduction "stays true to the original garment, capturing its quirks and unique features."
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Posted at 11:06 AM, May 22, 2024

Marking the 151-year anniversary of unveiling its 501 jeans, Levi's said it is reproducing a limited number of the oldest pair of jeans in its archives.

Levi's had been around for over 20 years when it unveiled the 501. On May 20, 1873, Levi Strauss Co. filed for a patent for the jeans. Levi's later dubbed the denim overalls the world's first blue jeans.

The jeans' designer, Jacob Davis, was tasked with improving fastening pocket openings.

"My invention relates to a fastening for pocket-openings, whereby; the sewed seams are prevented from ripping or starting from frequent pressure or strain thereon; and it consists in the employment of a metal rivet or eyelet at each edge of the pocket-opening, to prevent the ripping of the seam at those points," Davis wrote to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. "The rivet or eyelet is so fastened in the seam as to bind the two parts of cloth which the seam unites together, so that it shall prevent the strain or pressure from coming upon the thread with which the seam is sewed."

Levi's reproduction of the original 501 jeans.

Davis filed over two dozen patents for Levi Strauss & Co.

Because the original patent for the 501 expired after 17 years, rival companies could begin making blue jeans soon after.

The jeans were called the 9Rivet because they had nine rivets instead of the usual 11. An original pair has been kept in a fireproof safe.

Levi's says the reproduction is "crafted with precision and attention to detail, the reproduction stays true to the original garment, capturing its quirks and unique features."

“Of the various 1870s blue jeans in the Levi’s Archives, I always suspected 9Rivet was the oldest,” said design director for Levi’s vintage clothing Paul O’Neill. “After confirming it is in fact the oldest we have, we were thrilled to reproduce all of its quirks and details that collectively capture a unique piece of denim history.”

Levi's said only 800 pairs of the jeans will be available for purchase. The jeans are being sold online and at select Levi's stores. The jeans are priced at $495.

11-year-old Audrina Nguyen-Oerzen works on her designs.

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