Made in California – Levi’s x Mr. Porter

I’ve spent quite a lot of time researching California and fashion due to this month’s blog theme. It took a while before I remembered that California is the home of the most famous denim brand in the world. Levi Strauss arrived in San Francisco in 1853 and opened a wholesale dry goods business selling clothing, blankets and handkerchiefs to small general stores throughout the American West. In a few short years he’d invent what would eventually become an iconoclastic item of menswear, the 501. 
Not many items of clothing come with a pedigree like Levi’s 501s do. Originally made for American frontiersmen in the late 1800’s the 501 has graced the butt of everyone from Marlon Brando to Marilyn Monroe. To say it’s an iconic design is a grotesque understatement. Levi’s are understandably very protective of this legacy which is why it’s all the more impressive that have been granted permission to create what will surely become the ultimate in collectible jeans. In collaboration with Mr. Porter, Levi’s have created three collectors editions of the (customised and tapered) jeans, limited to only 100 pairs in each wash. Can you hear that terrifying noise? That’s the sound of denim nerds screaming with joy. 
All the denim was sourced from the White Oak Cone Mill, in Greensboro North Carolina, who have been supplying selvedge denim to Levi’s for over 100 years. Each pair has an exclusive Eureka lab stamp on the inside pocket alongside a big ‘E’ on the back of the buttons and were handmade in San Fransisco, process which took around 72 hours.  Check out the pictures below and also a Q&A with Sam Kershaw, denim buyer for Mr. Porter and mastermind behind this project. 

Why work with Levi’s? 

Levi’s is the oldest denim brand in the world and they are masters of their craft. They are also market leaders and super talented innovators in design and product development. Couple that with Mr. Porter’s access to a global market and you have the makings of a great team. 
How did the project come about?

We already stock the Made and Crafted and Vintage lines and this project naturally grew out of our existing relationship with the brand. We were keen to stock a classic ‘Red Tab’ style – but we wanted to do something special, to be able to offer the Mr. Porter customer a jean that they couldn’t get anywhere else. At the same time, Levi’s were working on a bespoke version of their new 501 CT (Customised & Tapered) jeans and the conversation naturally progressed from there. 
How did the design process work? Did Mr. Porter have a lot of input from a creative standpoint?

The most exciting part of this project for us is that we are the first brand partner to ever have design input in to a 501 style. It’s such an iconic piece, so understandably the Levi’s team hold it very dear. They’re incredibly careful and thoughtful about any changes that they make to the product. To get the ball rolling they invited me over to their famous ‘Eureka Innovation Lab’ in San Francisco, to look at the 501 CT styles they had created and work with them on anything that needed to be tweaked slightly. Jonathan and I had already discussed what we had in mind with regards to fit and colour ways and as it turned out we were completely on the same wavelength when it came to how we thought they should look, feel and fit. 
What sets this collaboration apart from other capsules Mr. Porter have launched? 

What is so unique about these items is that they are true collector’s items. They are made from selvedge cone mills white oak denim – essentially the finest denim in the world and each pair has been hand-made. To be able to get hold of a jean like this, at this level of craftsmanship and at an accessible price is pretty much unheard of. 
Do you wear Levi’s?
I do, I have numerous pairs. Everyone should own a pair of Levi’s. I’m lucky enough to own a custom patchwork pair of 501’s, they were made for me when I visited the Levi’s team and they are my pride and joy.
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