Mention the brand LS&CO and few will have any idea what it means. But say the word Levi's and everyone understands. All over the world Levi's is synonymous with quality clothing, especially denim jeans. The story of the Levi`s vintage brand stretches back to 1853 when Levi Strauss, a German immigrant living in New York, decided to open a West Coast branch of his brother's dry goods store in California. At the time the gold rush there was in full swing and Strauss reckoned he could sell his merchandise to prospectors, including the rough canvas material that miners used as tents. As it turned out, what they really needed was hard-wearing work trousers. Spotting a potential business opportunity, Strauss made the canvas into waist-high overalls that proved an immediate success. He eventually joined forces with tailor Jacob Davis and came up with a plan to make riveted men's work trousers. Their idea was to make not only the highest quality jeans but also to launch an international brand.
In 1890 the 'two-horse' brand leather patch was introduced to lot number '501' and the famous 501 Levi's range was born. Between 1922 and 1941, the Levi's vintage design underwent a few notable changes. Belt-loops were added, to be followed by the application of the red Levi's tab. Finally, after complaints from cowhands about the scorching effects of kneeling round a camp fire, rivets were removed from the crotch of the jeans.
The following decade witnessed the introduction of a more tapered leg, zips and a colour variation: the lighter shades of blue marked Levi's entry into the sportswear business. The success was phenomenal. In fact, during World War II the US government went so far as to declare Levi's an essential commodity and restricted sales to defence workers.
Levis's popularity with movie stars such as John Wayne and James Dean only added to the craze and their street credibility soared. Over the years designs may have altered, but Levi's remains the latest word not only in men's vintage clothing but for women too.
If you have ever wondered how to treat your rigid 501®s in order to get them into the perfect fit you may be interested in the new entertaining video guides that Levi's® Vintage Clothing have compiled to help out.
The short clips below advise on three different approaches to wash, wear and care for your rigid 501®s
Keep 'Em Rigid
Some folks like to wear their rigid 501®s without washing. The wear effect on a true rigid jean will always give the most dramatic look. You can dry-clean, but that’s only if you don’t mind chemicals being used on your denims. Some people spray vinegar when their jeans hang inside out to remove any odour. Some simply hang their jeans outside for a few days. Folding jeans into the freezer also does the same job.
Dip in the tub
The very first time you wear your 501®s, climb into the bathtub and let them soak on your body for up to half an hour. Drain the tub, squeeze the excess water from your legs then get outside in the sunshine to dry them into your shape. Otherwise, bend and stretch while wearing them indoors until you can carefully slip out of them and dry them over the back of a chair. When your jeans are dirty, simply climb back into the bathtub and wash with a little soap.
Wash 'em good
If you prefer a thorough wash and simply don’t have the time for handwashing,wash inside out at 86° F / 30° C. Don’t tumble-dry: it’ll shrink too much. Dry in theopen air if you can, or hang them in a warm place until crispy dry. Long-term shrinkagewill occur over several washes.