by John Russel Jones

Levi’s has been busy celebrating the 150th anniversary of the 501 jean all year, but a concert and special “501 Experience” have brought the festivities to a real climax.

The concert, held on the blue jean’s birthday, May 20th, included performances by Kehlani, Cordae, DJ Five Venoms, and Big Boss Vette at the Fox Theater in San Francisco. In attendance were notable guests including, but not limited to, Rickey Thompson, Salem Mitchell, Hayley Law, Sydney Carlson, Duckwrth, Dru MacDonald, Everett Williams, Kilo Kish, Sophia Chang, and more.

Levi’s Presents Kehlani at the Fox Theater in San Francisco.

The 501 Experience

For the biggest moment of its year-long celebration, Levi’s has launched an immersive activation to honor the beloved model and the brand’s long-standing association with San Francisco, its birth city. Open to the public through May 27th at San Francisco’s historic Skylight at the Armory, the 501 Experience features an archival museum, opportunities for custom pieces, a hometown marketplace, and much more.

Influencer and artist Perris Howard attends the Levi’s 501 Experience.

At the center of the Experience is Chapters, a living, breathing installation that utilizes the themes History & Legacy, Icons, Cultural Impact, and Unwavering Devotion, to tell The Greatest Story Ever Worn. In addition to the oldest pair of Levi’s jeans, Chapters features denim worn by pop culture icons over the years like the Bay Area legend, Harvey Milk. The Chapters Archives ultimately show how 501 jeans went from workwear clothing of hardworking laborers and cowboys to a product that mirrored the course of socio-cultural history around the world and transformed fashion. Other unique pieces on display include a Levi’s AMC Gremlin from the ’70s and an operational denim loom that produces “made in the USA” denim on site. DJ sets, including one from Anderson .Paak, will provide music throughout the 501 Experience.

Actor Boran Kuzum poses with the vintage Levi’s Gremlin.

The 501 Factory

The 501 Experience also features the 501 Factory, a mixed-use space that houses the brand’s most inspirational customization efforts. Based on the actual Levi’s Eureka Innovation Lab space in San Francisco, The 501 Factory gives guests the rare opportunity to take a look into Levi’s toolbox and create their own pair of “Made in San Francisco” 501 jeans, following a special consultation with Bart Sights, Vice President of Technical Innovation at Levi Strauss & Co. Only 150 pairs will be created, each hand numbered and outfitted with special anniversary sundries. With a full suite of laser customizations, washes, and arcade finishes, visitors of the 501 Factory will witness denim be produced from loom to pattern, to cut and sew.

Gabe James, Luann Diez

Denim Workshop

The Denim Workshop is an extension of the 501 Factory where the life of denim is extended, repaired, collected and discussed. Modeled after a classic tailor shop, visitors of the Denim Workshop can repair their favorite Levi’s pieces, shop for vintage Levi’s 501 jeans, and participate in hands-on workshops on sustainability, upcycling, and denim design from brand partners, including Nicole McLaughlin, and 625 Industries.

Pop-Up Store

Additionally, a pop-up store at the 501 Experience will invite visitors to shop for their favorite Levi’s classics while browsing through exclusive products in new and engaging ways. While the 501 jeans are the focus of the shop, other iconic pieces will also be on display, including various trucker jackets, tees, and shorts. The store offers a built in Tailor Shop, where visitors can customize new pieces right then and there.

  • Isaiah Peck


Lastly, the 501 Experience houses a hometown Marketplace, a thoughtfully curated exploration of the people, places, and brands who’ve helped shape San Francisco culture. Vendors set to appear at the Marketplace include Verve Coffee Roasters, Woodshop, Tunnel Records, and Humphry Slocombe Ice Cream. The Marketplace also features a mural painted by Bay Area artist Brijean.

Top image: Skateboarder Nico Hiraga. Photo credits: Jason Sean Weiss BFA

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