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Levi’s Marks 150th Anniversary of Iconic 501's with The Greatest Story Ever Worn


Melina Matsoukas and Martin De Thurah direct the Droga5 campaign spotlighting thirteen stories inspired by true events from around the globe

Levi’s Marks 150th Anniversary of Iconic 501's with The Greatest Story Ever Worn

2023 marks the 150th anniversary of Levi’s 501 Jeans, one of the most enduring icons of global style and the original template from which all other jeans have descended. The 501 Original has been worn by millions of changemakers, risk takers, experimenters, thinkers, icons and creatives over the course of its brilliant 150 year history.

To mark this incredible milestone, Levi’s in partnership with creative agency Droga5 are launching The Greatest Story Ever Worn - an expansive, year-long celebration of the unbelievable exploits of 501 fans from the last 150 years. The worldwide launch introduces a collection of unbelievable true stories that position the 501 jean as an ever-expanding story, written and rewritten by everyone who fastens up the fifth button. More than a pair of jeans, more than one individual's story, but a collection of stories, characters, events, ambitions and memories from everyday heroes to unbelievable icons.

To deliver on the cultural impact, ambition and scale of this moment, the campaign spotlights thirteen stories inspired by true events from around the globe - across film, social, OOH, print, events, activations and digital. As part of this, Levi’s is releasing three short films directed by award-winning directors Melina Matsoukas and Martin De Thurah to introduce The Greatest Story Ever Worn and kick off this year-long saga of storytelling. Transcreated for a truly global audience, the campaign illuminates these select stories that celebrate the 501 jeans imprint, relevance and unwavering devotion from fans from around the world -  inspiring a new generation to write the next chapter

"Few products, let alone pieces of clothing, have been as consistently present for so many human experiences, for as long as the 501. Coming from the humblest of beginnings as  workwear pants, Levi’s 501 Jeans have become a blank canvas for self expression and a timeless symbol for rule-breaking that transcends the boundaries of culture, and class. This is an incredible moment and milestone for the Levi’s brand and  through The Greatest Story Ever Worn campaign we aim to celebrate the legacy of the 501, its unrivalled breadth and global relevance, and to inspire the next generation to create the next chapters." - Chris Jackman, VP of Brand Marketing, Levi’s.

The first historically based film, Precious Cargo, shares the story of how 501 jeans made their way to Kingston, Jamaica in the 1970’s and how Jamaica turned and made them uniquely their own. Directed by Melina Matsoukas and shot by academy award nominated cinematographer Bradford Young, the film is a celebratory exploration of an island that’s distinct style, rhythm and soul has reverberated across the globe.

“Early Levi’s spots were some of the pieces that actually inspired me to pursue commercial filmmaking. It is an honour to now be part of their cinematic legacy. I always gravitate toward brands and creatives who lean into authentic storytelling and, with this piece, we were able to pay homage to a small but powerful piece of history. Droga5 have been incredible partners who are willing to push the idea of commerciality and I love that courage. We are cut from the same cloth in that way.”– Melina Matsoukas

The second film, Fair Exchange, tells the story of a beloved family bellcow and the son who swapped the beast for a pair of 501 Jeans, much to his family's dismay. Directed by Martin de Thurah and shot by acclaimed cinematographer Kasper Tuxen, a cold Georgian winter is the backdrop to a film that explores 501 jeans as a beacon for something bigger – a dream.

And finally, the third film, Legends Never Die, tells the true story of one devoted Levi’s wearer who requested to be buried in his 501 Jeans – a final wish that many people have relayed to the brand over the years. This specific fan asked all funeral attendees to wear their 501 Jeans too. Also directed by Martin de Thurah, the film is a beautiful meditation on the type of collective love that would inspire a group of people to show up in denim for a beloved family member and friend. It is a celebration of humanity and the inextricable connection between a man who truly lived in his Levi’s 501 Jeans.

“I have done some of my best work over the years with Droga5, and I was intrigued by the challenge to create little stories in a mini format together. Levi's® is an iconic brand and being able to celebrate the 150th anniversary alongside my favourite people was a wonderful opportunity." – Martin de Thurah.

The launch of The Greatest Story Ever Worn kicks off the celebration of the 501 Jeans’ 150th anniversary. More stories will be shared throughout 2023 along with milestone celebrations around the world.

“For 150 years, we’ve bore witness to the greatest story unfolding. The story of the everyday exploits of 501 wearers. Unearthing these more intimate, unexpected and unbelievable stories from the archives, it brings us great joy to be able to bring these true stories to light in celebration of an iconic milestone and iconic product. Rare are those who have made it this far without skipping a beat, but that’s the magic of the 501 jean. And 150 years on, The Greatest Story Ever Worn is still being written.” - Tom McQueen, group creative director, Droga5

“Every story we tell is premised on a true experience of a Levi’s 501 wearer. The stories may have different tones, different tenors and different heroes at the centre of them, from everyday farming people to unliving legends. But at the heart, all are simple, single-minded stories about a long standing love affair with one of the most iconic pieces of clothing ever made - the 501 jean.” George McQueen, group creative director, Droga5.

“We spent months ideating and writing scripts to bring this iconic brand’s legacy to life…only to realise that the story we wanted to tell wasn’t ours to invent. It was already out there living in the world, being written each day by people wearing 501 jeans.” Mia Rafowitz, senior copywriter, Droga5


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Categories: Denim, Clothing and Fashion

Droga5 New York, Thu, 02 Feb 2023 11:19:31 GMT