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How Levi’s became the ultimate symbol of rebellious youth

A new documentary explores the history of the brand’s iconic 501 jean – from coal miners to cowboys and creative iconoclasts

The Levi’s 501 jean has cultural legacy steeped in rebellion. Conceived in 1873, its journey spans 140 years, from the Great Depression to the birth of youth culture. Though the garment started out being worn by the coal miners and cowboys of the 19th century, it was later adopted by the Hollywood stars of the 1930s and the countercultural icons of the 1950s such as James Dean and Marlon Brando – as well as the beats, hippies and countless members of future generations. The 501 is a piece of clothing that’s imbued with history and anarchism.

A new film explores this journey, featuring a variety of people from Scott Schuman aka The Sartorialist, supermodel Erin Wasson and Rihanna’s stylist Mel Ottenberg. Split into three parts – “Work”, “Style” and “Rebellion” – the film charts its various roles as a functional garment; an aesthetic one (thanks to the aspirational appeal of cowboys), and as a symbol of rebellion – something that remains true to this day.

Watch the film below: