Levi's Vintage Clothing Recreates Archival Homer Campbell 501 Jeans From 1917

Levi’s Vintage Clothing is highlighting a special story in the denim innovator’s past with the reproduction of the Homer Campbell 501 jeans, a legendary garment in the brand’s centuries-spanning archive.

Campbell, a hard rock miner in Arizona in 1917, sported a pair of 501 overalls six days a week for three years straight. He only switched out of them on Sundays; and given the nature of his work, Campbell’s 501s were often in need of repair. He stitched, patched and sewed as much as he could, but as the damage worsened over time, he decided that the overalls’ days were finally over.

In the early days, Levi’s had an advertising guarantee that read “A New Pair Free If They Rip,” so the miner sent his pair to Levi’s headquarters in San Francisco with a handwritten note, in hopes of receiving a replacement. He became the first consumer to send an item of clothing back to the company, and Campbell’s original jeans have lived in the Levi’s history books ever since.

“We wanted to celebrate the anniversary of the 501 jean by reproducing Homer’s legendary pair, the first garment sent to our company by a consumer over 100 years ago, I like to think of Homer as the beginning of the Levi’s Archives,” said Paul O’Neill, design director for Levi’s Vintage Clothing. “Parceled up, including a copy of Homer’s original letter, we wanted to present the Homer Campbell 501 exactly as it was received in 1920.” 

Notably, Homer’s 501 jeans have appeared in exhibitions at the Bundeskunsthalle, Germany’s national museum of art in Bonn, and at the Disneyland opening in the 1950s. Celebrating their legacy, the newly-released Homer Campbell 501 jeans enlist selvedge denim and a straight leg fit, with classic patches, buttons and stitches that reference the miner’s original pair.

The limited-edition Homer Campbell 501 jeans are now available to shop on Levi’s webstore and in select stores. Take a look at the design in the gallery above.
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