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Enduring Classic

$52, by Levi's

The Levi's 501

The word iconic gets thrown around a lot in the world of style, but Levi's signature jeans, the 501, are truly an icon of American style. They're the reference point for nearly every other denim designer and have found a place in every generation since their introduction in 1873. One hundred and forty years ago this month, Levi Stauss patented the first pair of riveted "waist overalls." Sewn in San Francisco, they were made of 9 ounce denim from the Amoskeag Mill in Manchester, New Hampshire and were reinforced with copper rivets. Over the decades, the design was refined—pockets and belt loops were added, waist cinches and suspender buttons removed—and the shape continued to evolve with the times.

A guarantee ticket from the 1920s.

Eventually, the 501 came to stand for what we know it as today: a no-nonsense cut with a true straight leg and a medium rise. The kind of jeans that look good on every guy. And while that old school style has remained virtually unchanged, Levi's isn't against a little innovation. In honor of the big anniversary, the brand has improved its 501 formula, using a more comfortable shrink-to-fit denim and stronger stitching to reinforce belt loops, inseams and buttonholes. That timeless fit and feel, however, remains. After all, that's what makes the 501 one of the best buys in menswear. Durable, affordable and unflinchingly handsome, it's no wonder they've lasted as long as they have.

    US Patent #139,121: Levi Strauss and Jacob Davis, a Nevada tailor, obtain the patent for riveted denim workwear pants in May of 1873.








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