By Audrey Kemp, LA Reporter

February 3, 2023 | 5 min read

From a cow-trading mod to a blue jean funeral, ‘The greatest story ever worn’ marks the 150-year history of Levi’s 501 jeans through fascinating anecdotes over the decades.

2023 marks the 150th year of Levi’s iconic 501 jeans.

To commemorate this milestone and the millions of people who have worn 501s, the brand created ’The greatest story ever worn,’ a global campaign immortalizing some of those stories throughout time.

The campaign’s hero film, ’Fair exchange,’ was directed by Martin de Thurah. It follows a mod born on a farm in 1982. He spots a pair of 501s while perusing a magazine, which prompts him to trade his family cow for his neighbor’s pair of jeans. A jangly 80s song reverberates throughout the spot, which helps to invoke the spirit of the time.

The campaign also includes two shorter spots – ’Legends never die,’ also directed by de Thurah, and ’Precious cargo,’ directed by Melina Matsoukas. The former immortalizes a man who passed away and requested that his loved ones all wear their 501s to his funeral. The camera pans across different shades of denim while Cliff Richards’s 1961 country tear-jerker My Blue Heaven is heard in the background.

Then there’s ’Precious cargo,’ which documents the wave Levi’s created when its 501s hit Jamaican shores in 1970. Young Jamaicans are seen donning the jeans while dancing to Toots & The Maytals’ 1973 hit 54-46 Was My Number.

“Every story we tell is premised on a true experience of a Levi’s 501 wearer,” says Droga5’s group creative director George McQueen. ”The stories may have different tones, different tenors and different heroes at the center of them, from everyday farming people to unliving legends. But at the heart, all are simple, single-minded stories about a long-standing love affair with one of the most iconic pieces of clothing ever made – the 501 jean.”

’The greatest story ever worn’ has echoes of previous 501 campaigns that lean into the jean’s history and legacy, like the climate-conscious ‘Buy better, wear longer’ campaign introduced in 2021.

The campaign goes live at the Grammys on Feb. 5, and will encompass films, social, out-of-home-print and other activations.


Agency: Droga5 New York

‘Fair Exchange’ and ‘Legends Never Die’

Production company: Epoch

Production service company: Unit + Sofa

Editorial: Rock Paper Scissors

Post-production, color: Company 3

Post-production, VFX: Blacksmith

Music supervision: Curation Music

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‘Precious Cargo’

Production company: De La Revolución

Production service company: Creative Source Productions

Editorial: Cut + Run

Post-production, color: Harbor Picture Company

Post-production, VFX: Blacksmith

Sound design, mix: Ballad

Digital OOH: Chroma-VFX

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