2023 is the year in which we celebrate the 150th anniversary of the first jean in history, the legendary, immortal, and unstoppable Levi’s 501.
It was 1873 when Latvian-Jewish-born American tailor Jacob Davis and Mr. Levi Strauss succeeded in obtaining a patent for the iconic design that is still the quintessential jeans today. Of course over the course of 150 years the Levi’s 501 has evolved by adapting to the times, but the most difficult challenge Davis and Strauss faced from the very beginning was to distinguish themselves from the competition that was meanwhile beginning to make inroads.
There were so many ideas, such as the copper rivets that the two patented first-and then, once they expired, competitors began to use them as well-the arched design of the back pockets and the red tab, Levi’s needed something that would distinguish their 501 in a distinct and recognizable way.
The breakthrough year was 1886, when what had already become a company that mass-produced jeans decided to add what would later become an unmistakable symbol of the brand, a unique and peculiar hallmark that would mark the history of Levi’s.
The very famous Two Horse logo, or the logo depicting two horses, tied to a jean, pulling one on one side and one on the other trying somehow to break it and split it in two. The logo was meant to represent the dual vision that the founders intended to convey: the quality and durability of the product and, of course, its authenticity. Consider also that until 1928 the company name was “The Two Horse Brand” and then changed to Levi’s.
In the beginning, however, the two-horse logo did not originate to end up on the very famous leather labels-which later became paper and later jacron, a cellulose derivative-but was printed on the pocket fabric at the intent of jeans from 1890 until 1900, when the label we all still know today was added, and which represents the American brand more than anything else.
The label took on a very important value over time, allowing buyers who were illiterate, for example (many at the time, we are talking about the late 1800s in the old American West) or for those who spoke a different language, to immediately recognize Levi’s jeans thanks precisely to the Two Horse logo on the leather label on the back.
For more than a century now, the logo with the two horses has been a distinctive and unique element of Levi’s and has remained mostly the same throughout that time, except for very small variations.
The collaborations that Levi’s has then made in the years to come have modified, each time in a different way of course, the logo over the years precisely to launch and give more prominence to the collabo in question, while maintaining its main characteristic, recognizability.