Get your double denim at the ready! Last month saw the announcement that Levi’s will ‘pair up’ with the Victoria and Albert museum as part of its up and coming exhibition ‘You say you want a revolution?.’ And who better to explore the themes of rebellion and youth than a brand built on anarchy and revolt?
In a recent film released by Levi’s we are given the history of the iconic label which was initially created in the late 1800s to provide Californian coal miners with tough fabric which could withstand long days of manual labour. Only after the jeans started appearing in cowboy and western films did they make the shift from practical to fashionable.
And as fashion evolved, so did Levis. In 1934 the first pair of jeans designed for women appeared, and a year later ladies Levis’ featured in Vogue for the first time. By the 50’s everyone was donning the denim and the brand quickly became a symbol for gender activists challenging what ‘masculinity’ and ‘femininity’ looked like. Pictures of stars such as Marilyn Monroe dressed in jeans t-shirts were revolutionary, and Levis was at the forefront of the move.
In the 60’s Levis had well and truly established itself as being at the forefront of rebellion and many schools decided to ban the devilish denim due to fears that they were encouraging anarchy. Rock bands like the ‘Ramones’ and the ‘Rolling Stones’ teamed their Levi’s with ‘Doc Martens’ and soon artists, hippies, and LGBTQ advocates followed in their lead. To wear the jeans was to belong to an ever-expanding club of social activists desperate for change.
The prospect of Levi’s teaming up with the London exhibition is exciting. The exhibition, which will explore the ‘Records and Rebels’ of 1966-1970 will focus on the aspirations of the 60s through the fashion, music and pop culture of the time. It will draw on the ways in which this period affected – and still affects – us now. And with Zara having just announced its release of a ‘gender neutral’ range of clothing, this is a very interesting time to explore how far we’ve come.