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Chris Matthews poses for a photo at the Global Hub in Posvar Hall.
Chris Matthews: Inspiring language learners at home and abroad
By Anna Kuntz, Senior Staff Writer • April 22, 2024
The best cafés to caffeinate and cram for finals
By Irene Castillo, Senior Staff Writer • April 22, 2024

The Archives | Levi’s pioneered authentic Western wear, believe it or not

The Archives is a biweekly blog about all things fashion, culture and lifestyle.
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TPN File Illustration

Allow me to take you back to where it all began for the denim brand that can never be forgotten — Levi’s. 

To truly embrace the cowboy aesthetic this spring and summer, you must incorporate denim — whether it is a favorite of yours or not. The denim craze dates back to 1930, when dressing became more of a personal decision than a societal expectation. 

Levi’s decided to sponsor rodeos for the sake of increased awareness. Cowboys opted for their best-selling overalls — as a cowboy would — and the world followed suit.

Hollywood Westerns made the material their uniform, whether they were in the arena or not. Decades later, Jennifer Aniston refurbished the popular trend to an even greater extent with the sitcom Friends.

From rodeos to the street, Levi’s are now an essential part of an effortless look in all climates, environments and places.

“Fashion may change, but quality never goes out of style,” Levi’s tags say. No fashion expert or amateur can argue that one. 

Investment pieces are investments for a reason — they will last you years, maybe even decades. Each pair of Levi’s you scope out at a thrift store could have been a part of two lives before you. From the choice of denim, to manufacturing, sewing and steaming, each pair of jeans are made with love and intentionality.

Different cuts and shapes flatter consumers with a wide range of body types — not to mention, their quality wraps you in.

Tracey Panek, Levi Strauss & Co.’s historian and archives director, describes how they are “remarkably useful and durable for laborers, cowboys, anybody who’s doing really hard wearing work” in her Youtube video done with the team.

Advertising pursuits birthed a figure called the “Saddleman,” with cowboys essentially becoming the face of Levi’s as they were added to tags and posted in all forms of public campaigns.

They even made a line dedicated to the rodeo filled with satin shirts embellished with smile pockets, all-wool jackets, spur bites and patch work jeans.

Today, Levi’s appears in forms of modern street style, a total 180-degree turn from the Western-esque aesthetic. 

Maybe a 180 is not completely accurate — however, each pair of Levi’s tells the same story of the past.

A tried and true pair of Levi’s 501 is the staple of this generation. The force of trends have nothing on this holy grail of a garment. Finding the perfect fit is like hitting the jackpot, but luckily, the designers made this tall task simple.

Do you know what they used to call a zipper? A “metal fastener.” This intricate detail provided security for workers during the day, and now we look to them for a sense of emotional security.

Thanks to the 1960s rebels, otherwise known as “hippies,” for opening the eyes of future generations and style-enthusiasts with their own love for denim. Thank you to even Albert Einstein for wearing his own pair of denim, and to Steve Jobs, as they were his everyday pants.

“I think they’ve become the default garment if you want to fit in just about any group of interest — from punk to hip-hop to cowboy,” Panek celebrates in her archive episode. “They’re versatile and as relevant today as ever.”