A jean-ius invention: Levi’s celebrates the 150th anniversary of their iconic 501 jeans


Angelina Ning '23

Created by Levi Strauss in 1873, people have been wearing Levi’s 501 jeans for 150 years.

Naomi Lin '24, Opinion Editor

An innovative piece of garment created 150 years ago with a durable blue fabric that withstood the effects of physically strenuous jobs was intricately designed with an arcuate stitching pattern on one back pocket, a watch pocket, a cinch, suspender buttons, and a rivet. 

In May of 1873, in San Francisco, businessman Levi Strauss and tailor Jacob Davis were given a patent for their ingenious invention: blue jeans.​​ Initially, they were explicitly designed for miners and laborers who needed sturdier and more protective work clothes, but as a result of changes made in the American economy and the increase in service-based occupations, jeans are now worn more as a fashion statement. 

In 2023, this internationally influential business is commemorating its 150th anniversary through the versatility and popularity of its product. 

According to Levi’s, this article of clothing was, “worn by miners, cowboys, rebels, rock stars, presidents and everyday men and women, these functional pieces were the clothes people not only worked in—they lived their lives in, too… They’re the purest wearable form of authentic self-expression. They bear the markings of life, the shapes of our bodies, the memories of our adventures.”

English instructor Diana Assereto said, “Jeans are popular because everything and anything can be worn with them and you will always match.  Also, people can wear jeans in a variety of situations from working on a ranch to going out to dinner with friends.” 

Normay Arriola ’24 added, “I think jeans are so popular because there’s different styles you can wear them with like skinny jeans and mom jeans.” 

In celebration of this milestone Levi’s is releasing the re-interpretation of the 501 ’90s jeans.

World Languages Department Chair and 90s graduate Armando Castillo recalled, “I remember very clearly when Levi’s 501 jeans were the gold standard of the jeans not just in the US, but in the world.” 

He continued, “I was in service during the early 90s and I would buy stacks of Levi’s 501 jeans in the PX and give them out to friends that I had made overseas… To this day they are my favorite jeans.”