(February 16, 2023 – San Francisco, CA) – 2023 marks the 150th anniversary of Levi’s® 501® jeans, one of the most enduring icons of global style 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.
“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.” – Chris Jackman, VP of Brand Marketing, Levi’s.
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.
“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.” – Melina Matsoukas
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 – 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 Martin de 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.
“I was intrigued by the challenge to create little stories in a mini format that together tell an even bigger story. Levi’s is an iconic brand and being able to celebrate the 150th anniversary alongside my favorite people was a wonderful opportunity.” – Martin de Thurah
The launch of The Greatest Story Ever Worn kicks off the celebration of the 501® jeans’ 150th anniversary. More stories will be shared throughout 2023 along with milestone celebrations around the world.
Watch the films here:
Legends Never Die
Creative concept and direction: Droga5
Directors: Melina Matsoukas and Martin de Thurah
Photographer: Jason Nocito
Stylist: Mobolaji Dawodu
About Levi Strauss & Co.:
Levi Strauss & Co. is one of the world’s largest brand-name apparel companies and a global leader in jeanswear. The company designs and markets jeans, casual wear and related accessories for men, women, and children under the Levi’s®, Dockers®, Signature by Levi Strauss & Co.™, and Denizen® brands. Its products are sold in more than 110 countries and worldwide through a combination of chain retailers, department stores, online sites, and a global footprint of approximately 3,000 retail stores and shop-in-shops. Levi Strauss & Co.’s reported fiscal 2018 net revenues were $5.6 billion. For more information, go to http://levistrauss.com.
About Martin de Thurah:
Martin de Thurah is a Danish director, screenwriter, and photographer, known for creating beautiful and powerful moving images. His commercial for IKEA won ‘Best Direction’ at the Creative Circle Awards in 2008 and in 2009 he won MVA’s including ‘Best Director’, and a D&AD Pencil for his video for Will Young. Martin’s promo career is prolific, shooting for James Blake, Feist, Editors, Royksopp and David Byrne, picking up MVA’s and other awards along the way. This work has translated across to commercials effortlessly. His Thomson film was marked as one of the best works of 2011 and is still referenced by clients and agencies to date. In both 2014 and 2018 Martin was voted Commercials Director of the Year by the Directors Guild of America, one of the directing crafts highest accolades. Martin has won 35 D&AD awards including a Yellow Pencil for Direction. He has created jaw dropping work for Bupa, Facebook, Ubisoft, Thomson, PlayStation, Camelot, Hennessy and many more. His most awarded piece came in the form of ‘Phelps’ for Under Armour, which picked up 11 Lions in Cannes including the Grand Prix for Craft.
About Melina Matsoukas:
Melina Matsoukas is a filmmaker whose brand of provocation comes from a unique, inherently multicultural point of view focused on diverse storytelling. Matsoukas made her powerful feature directorial debut with QUEEN & SLIM, which she also produced, in 2019. Matsoukas began her television career as an executive producer and director of the critically acclaimed HBO series INSECURE; she has since continued to direct and executive produce a number of television shows, including the MASTER OF NONE Emmy-winning “Thanksgiving” episode. She has also brought her singular vision to music videos for artists such as Beyoncé, Jay-Z, Rihanna, Snoop Dogg and Lady Gaga, and for global campaigns of major commercial clients such as Nike, Beats and Calvin Klein.