When it comes to the staples of American denim, few names boast the lineage that Levi Strauss does. The fashion company revered for its 501 jeans and trucker jackets has carved out a niche as the world’s most recognisable denim label, and Levi’s Red Tab spring/summer collection proves the recognition isn’t lost on them. Entitled “Archives Reinvented”, the new collection reflects on Levi’s iconic fits of the ‘80s, ‘90s and early 2000s, reimagining them through a modern, silhouette-shifting lens.
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The men’s offering of this new collection focuses on straight and relaxed fits, with a new style introduced called the 50s Straight – a wider leg cut that captures that classic ‘50s by way of ‘80s Levi’s style. Also making an appearance are icons like the 501 Original and the 505s, as well as recent interpretations like the 501 ’93 jean and the 551z. Levi’s hasn’t neglected some of the more recent trends, however, bringing in the popular Stay Baggy and Stay Loose jeans along with a new tapered fit called the 550 ‘92. This is a reimagining of one of Levi’s most popular jeans in the ’90s, the 550, but this time around, it has a looser fit through the seat and leg as well as a tapered hem. Outside of denim, the Levi’s XX Chino lineup has also copped an expanded range of colours and textures, including the addition of small wale corduroy also introducing a range of oversized interpretations of its classic tops, like the XL Trucker.
For true denim-heads, Levi’s premier collection, housed under the Made & Crafted brand is the pinnacle of the label’s success. A far more engineered approach, the combination of selvedge and raw denim, blended with modern cuts and Japanese-inspired military silhouettes has garnered worldwide acclaim and for spring/summer 33, Levi’s has gone goth. The collection sees the Made & Crafted brand introduce a collection of dark wave-inspired tops, bottoms, denim and outerwear, each featuring a darker colour palette, shadow tones and simple yet bold graphics inspired by early 20th-century avant-garde artists. Adding to the bold design choice, loved classic styles are drawn out into exaggerated proportions to create modern shapes and silhouettes.
Across the new lineup, there are a number of standout styles, most notably in the new wide-leg jeans and truckers that feature a unique special forest green denim fabric. Made using black instead of a natural colour weft, the black will show through more as the pieces are worn instead of fading like traditional jeans. Made & Crafted is also introducing new Wide Barrell jeans and a Grid Blouse made with unique windowpane fabric that looks like a grid of solid and sheer fabric strips.
Last but not least, the new spring/summer collection also offers a new range for the Levi’s Vintage Clothing brand. Labelled ‘Blue Daze’, the new range, celebrates the maverick jazz artists of the ‘50s, with sharp, tailored silhouettes, bold patterns and stripes on full display. The Vintage Clothing lineup also includes archival recreations as well as pieces inspired by this culturally important era in a palette of neutrals, earth tones, and shades of blue. Our top picks have to be the 1950s Harlequin Shirt with diamond print and the striped 1950s-style tee inspired by piano keys, as well as a traditional Swedish Sweater.
Looking at the collection as a whole, Vintage is certainly the name of the game for the iconic denim label. Coming straight from the Levi’s archives is a corduroy suit with centre-creased trousers and a three-patch-pocket jacket as well as a classic wide-leg tailored Levi’s pant from the 1950s that comes in a geometric pattern of multiple shades of blue. Also jumping out of the archive is a new 1960 501z jean that’s hemmed like trousers, starched and centre-creased, plus there’s also a new Sta-Prest trouser style pant that’s slim, tapered and even cropped.
For fans of Levi’s, the new spring/summer collection is a unique journey through three decidedly different eras of denim. Each lays claim to an integral movement in the history of men’s fashion, however, they all bare one familiar component – the instantly recognisable tag that has lived on for more than a century. Judging by the quality of the new lineup, we could well be celebrating Levi’s into the next century.