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100 Years of the Levi’s Shrink-To-Fit 501

September 29, 2015

Fashion | by Mikael Jack


100 years ago, in 1915, a gentleman’s agreement that would become known as the “golden handshake” was made.
In 1905, the founders of Cone Denim, brothers Moses and Caesar of North Carolina, established the White Oak Mill, named after a 200-year-old tree on its grounds. This mill would soon become the world’s most iconic denim mill, with the help of Levi Strauss & Co. who was in search of a reputable denim supplier. They approached Cone, and in 1915 a historic agreement was struck granting Cone Mills the exclusive right to manufacture Levi’s proprietary Shrink-to-Fit™ denim for the production of all Levi’s Lot 501 Jeans. 
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 Fast forward to 2015 and Levi Strauss & Co. still produces the 501 using Shrink-to-Fit™ denim from Cone’s White Oak facility in Greensboro, North Carolina. Constantly delving into this long and rich history with Cone Denim, some gems of the past are painstakingly remastered and remade at White Oak.
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It is in this manner that Levi’s pays special tribute to the “golden handshake” and the century-long partnership with Cone’s White Oak Mill by recreating the 1915 501 jean as part of its Levi’s Vintage Clothing Autumn/Winter 2015 collection.
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As well as coats, shirts and overalls, the 1915 501 employs red selvedge denim that Levi’s Vintage Clothing collaborated with Cone Mills on for over two years, in order to ensure its authenticity. The accompanying campaign takes the history a step further. Appearing as imagery from the past, the AW15 campaign reinforces the rich history and roots of Levi’s and why the 501 has over the past 100 years become the world’s best-selling jean.
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Mikael Jack