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Levi’s are back — with a new twist

Posted on April 7, 2000

By Melanie Rickey, The Daily Telegraph

We have all seen the television adverts. The first features a naked boy and girl who, instead of getting undressed during a sexy romp, put their clothes on. In the second, a clothed girl and boy are inexplicably drawn together as they walk along an urban street, and end up staring in shock and embarrassment as their jeans (which were parted on the production line) writhe passionately, minus boy and girl, in the gutter.

Starring Laura Morgan and Charlie Woolley from Models 1, these adverts are doing for Levi’s what Nick Kamen did for the company in 1985 when he stripped to his boxers in a launderette and watched his 501 jeans do the spin cycle. They have made Levi’s the jeans to wear yet again.

The Premium Red line came first, late last year. These cotton/hemp jeans, priced at £85 to £100 a pair, were designed in a 3D rather than 2D fashion to be more roomy, comfortable and ergonomic in appearance than traditional 501s. More importantly, they feature a twisted seam that angles from the hip to the knee and then down to the ankle, instead of straight down the side of the leg.

Their immediate success turned Levi’s on to the wider appeal of the twisted seam, which brings us back to those adverts and their effect on sales of the cheaper (from £55 a pair) Engineered line, which mixes cotton with Tencel rather than hemp to make them more durable.

The Levi’s store in Tokyo, which sells only the Engineered range, has been forced to introduce a queueing system on the door to calm the crowds desperate for a pair of twisted jeans.

This hysteria has been mildly replicated in Britain. In the five weeks that twisted jeans have been available in London, they have represented 45 per cent of total jeans sales at the Levi’s flagship store.

The store manager reports that the converted are leaving their old jeans behind, with the comment: “Now I know what it feels like to wear a pair of jeans that fit.”

The effect of the 21st-century jean can be compared with the instant popularity of the new, improved VW Beetle, or the latest iMac. People thought both items could not be bettered in terms of design and functionality, but have found that once bitten by the bug of the new, they can’t go back. Moreover, people enjoy the fact that owning a pair gives them membership of a hip clique.

Twisted jeans have, in the space of a month, become a modern classic. If you thought Levi’s had passed their sell-by date, it’s time to think again.

Copyright © 2000, Telegraph Group Limited. All rights reserved.