To celebrate the 80th anniversary of the first pair of women’s jeans last month, Levi Strauss &Co. has created a snapshot of the evolution of pants. The images attached take us through the many years and styles of a women’s changing wardrobe and the look that, for so long, was such a scandal. For a closer look into the women’s pants throughout history (many, of course, being Levi’s), check out Unzipped.
Lady Levi’s®, Lot 701, was first introduced in 1934. This image appeared in the first catalog. They were called “Dude Ranch Duds,” the company’s new separate line of western wear.
During World War II, many people visited dude ranches, as European travel was no longer possible. LS&CO. expanded its offerings of western clothing and always highlighted Lady Levi’s®. This is a catalog from the mid-‐ 1940s.
After World War II, the company started selling Lady Levi’s® jeans beyond the western states, where they soon became the uniform for the suburban mom. By the early 1950s, there was a change in attitude toward denim, which was now being seen as a fabric for leisure as well as labor. Trade magazines of the period make this very clear; in 1956 a writer for American Fabrics said that denim is in an “entirely new clothing category: it used to be work clothes, but now it’s work ‘n play clothes.”
By the mid-1950s, LS&Co. was making men’s and women’s clothing under the Casuals label. In 1955, the women’s Casuals line was so extensive it was given its own catalog, which was filled with the skirts, blouses, and “pedal pushers,” popular in films and in suburban backyards. The clothes were heavily advertised in magazines such as Glamour, Mademoiselle, and Seventeen.
In the 1960s, teenagers started to appear in advertisements reflecting the power of the Baby Boomer youth culture. In 1964, LS&CO. offered skinny stretch jeans for juniors, and these images appeared on in-‐‐store advertising cards that year.
Lady Levi’s® jeans were made for both mom and daughter in the 1960s and looked stylish on everyone. This advertising in store item is from about 1963.
The 1970s was all about personal expression and individuality. Fashion was one way people expressed themselves. Jeans in this era had a more groovy shape – and the open-leg flare style was an instant hit.
In the 1980s, the Levi’s® brand introduces the famous 501® jeans for women in 1981. The brand introduces stonewashing to women’s jeans just two years later in 1983.
In the 1990s, the Levi’s® brand offers a series of premium denim and continues to make a wide range of jeans – including the 501®, 550®, 512® Slim fits in an array of colors including the ever so popular white denim.
Today, 80 years after the birth of the jean for women, Levi’s continues to innovate to provide denim lifestyle solutions for women. In 2013, Levi’s introduced Levi’s Revel, a form-fitting jean with liquid shaping technology that shapes, lifts, and defines, with premium four-way stretch memory.
Images and captions via Levi Strauss & Co. Archives
Tags: history of denim, history of jeans, Levi Strauss & Co., the evolution of pants, vintage denim, vintage Levi's
Uniqlo‘s latest mini-booklet that has been widely distributed in celebration of their new global flagship opening has a couple pages on denim that provides a super brief overview of its evolution:
“A very brief cultural history of denim: workwear in the old American west, industrial workers in the early 20th century, rebel youth in the 1950s, hippies in the 1960s, and soon after that, everyone else. Jeans remain indelibly linked to ruggedness and to youth culture, and probably always will. Jeans ate the perfect article of clothing.”
Tags: global flagship, history of denim, history of jeans, Japanese denim, Uniqlo