From the “Blue Jean Sunday” protests during the civil rights movement to the denim-clad young people dismantling the first bricks of the Berlin Wall, Levi’s® jeans have long being a uniform of progress. Beyond making the jeans that have outfitted change makers and visionaries, Levi Strauss & Co. is a vocal advocate of equality for underserved and marginalized groups, including the LGBTQ community.
This year, we’re continuing the legacy through our second collection of Pride products. Between this month’s numerous Pride celebrations and the anticipated Supreme Court ruling on same-sex marriage, it couldn’t come at a better time.
Levi’s Denim Merchant Thomas Tolerico helped conceptualize the Levi’s 2015 Pride collection, and says the team saw this year’s collection as an opportunity to educate consumers about the history of the LGBTQ equality movement. “We wanted to make consumers a little more familiar with the cause and honor those who fought so hard to have Pride festivities,” he said.
Celebrating a Moment that Launched a Movement
For inspiration, the design teams looked at the history of the gay rights movement and created a timeline that depicts monumental moments of change in the LGBTQ communities. “The sequence reminds us that we continue to be a crucial part of history through our LGBTQ activism,” Thomas said.
For 2015, the first event selected from the timeline as the creative inspiration is the Stonewall riots of 1969. Stonewall is considered the first gay rights protest prompting the foundation of gay rights organizations.
“It’s all about honoring that day when a community of people stopped being victimized by local police and stood up for themselves,” said Thomas. He also noted that celebrating Stonewall supports Levi’s legacy as uniform of progress — they’ve heard anecdotes from a lot of people that were actually wearing Levi’s at the Stonewall Inn during the riots.
Today, The Stonewall Inn™ stands in New York City’s Greenwich Village and is part of New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission’s Greenwich Village Historic District and is also a designated National Historic Landmark. As the pinnacle representation of the fight for equality, it was clear that Stonewall would help start this new Levi’s tradition.
“To have The Stonewall Inn™ partnered with such an iconic American brand as Levi’s®, speaks volumes as to how far we, as a country, have come since June 28, 1969,” said Bill Morgan, Managing Partner, The Stonewall Inn™. “Levi’s® recognition and support of the LGBTQ community and it’s ongoing struggle for equality and acceptance, is as important and unique a partnership today as the partnership of Jacob Davis and Levi Strauss was back in 1873. That partnership resulted in a product that has withstood the test of time. With the continued support and acceptance of the LGBTQ community by corporations such as Levi’s®, the potential positive results for all of us are boundless.”
Beyond educating consumers and sparking a conversation about the origins of the LGBTQ movement, net proceeds from the collection will benefit the Stonewall Community Foundation to help New York’s diverse LGBTQ community.
Taking Pride in the Details
The Levi’s® 2015 Pride collection commemorates Stonewall with a series of distinct design details, including gender-neutral sizing. “We didn’t want to forget about the ‘T’ in LGBT,” said Thomas, referring to the transgender community, which he sees as the next civil rights frontier. “Since LS&Co. has always been a frontrunner in the fight for gay rights, it was important to put this community in the spotlight.”
Featuring tees, a tank, jean shorts, a hat and collectible pieces such as a commemorative patch and a limited-run Trucker jacket, this year’s collection boasts some serious flair. The collectible Trucker jacket is emblazoned with Pride-related patches and buttons that fans can customize with their own embellishments that showcase their pride.
Thomas feels the 511 cutoff shorts are the group’s quintessential garment; encompassing all of the collection’s design inspiration. “They look like the kind of ‘60s garment that you probably would have seen at Stonewall.”
The shorts have a rainbow Pride flag embroidered on their yoke and a nod to Stonewall embroidered on the front waistband. And for the first time ever, we’ve replaced our iconic back-pocket red tab with a rainbow-colored tab. That detail perfectly symbolizes the merger of our proud heritage with the important fight for equality that we’ll continue to pursue until every person is guaranteed the same basic human rights.
The Pride Collection will be available throughout the months of May and June on www.levi.com and at select stores in Chicago, Los Angeles, New York City, Portland, San Francisco, Toronto, Washington DC.