In the mid 1950s, Levi Strauss & Co. started selling 501® Jeans on America’s East Coast for the first time (Western states had been the primary sales territory since the jeans came out in 1873). Many folks had already been introduced to the jeans at dude ranches, but to some, this button fly work pant was something they had never encountered.
In order to make potential consumers comfortable with the company’s products, LS&Co. introduced a zipper version of the button fly Shrink-To-Fit™ jeans in 1954: the 501® Z. It had everything long-time wearers loved: the silhouette, the tough-but-flexible fabrics, rivets, etc. Retailers carried both the 501® Jean and its zippered brother, the 501® Z Jean, and everyone got the pair that worked best for them.
The 501® Z Jean had many fans. However, when it first came out, LS& Co. received a letter from an old-timer somewhere in the West who wasn’t too thrilled with the innovation. The actual letter has disappeared, but company legend has it that the writer said; “Why the heck did you put a zipper in your jeans? It’s like peeing into the jaws of an alligator.”
One wash to give it a bright blue shade and a soft hand feel.
12oz Cone Mills Red Selvedge denim (14oz after wash)
Two large back pockets with concealed rivets
“Two Horse” leather patch
Big “E” single sided red Tab
Twin needle Arcuate
Front Rise: 11 1/2 inches
Knee: 18 inches
Leg Opening: 15 1/4 inches