Mumbai: 2023 marks the 150 anniversary of Levi’s 501 jeans 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 commemorate the countless stories from the mundane to the momentous of fans in their 501 jeans, Levi’s is launching The Greatest Story Ever Worn campaign, a year long celebration. As part of the launch of the campaign, Levi’s is releasing three short films, directed by Martin de Thurah and Melina Matsoukas, titled The Greatest Story Ever Worn, that explore original stories from around the world celebrating 150 years of 501 jeans. With these stories, as well as others inspired by true events, The Greatest Story Ever Worn celebrates the 501 jeans’ incredible past and its role in countless historical, cultural and personal moments in order to inspire a new generation to write the next chapter.
The Greatest Story Ever Worn presents 501 jeans as an ever expanding story, written and rewritten by everyone who fastens up the fifth button. More than a pair of jeans, they are not just one person’s story, but everyone’s story. This ever expanding narrative features a collection of characters, events, ambitions and memories from everyday heroes to unbelievable icons.
Levi’s VP of Brand Marketing Chris Jackman said, "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 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 unrivaled breadth and global relevance, and to inspire the next chapters."
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.
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 than 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 Thurah, the film is a beautiful reflection 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.
Matsoukas said, “Early Levi’s spots were some of the pieces that actually inspired me to pursue commercial filmmaking. It is an honor 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 story from the vast history of Levi’s. Everyone involved was willing to push the idea of commerciality and I believe that courage led to us creating a beautiful film.”