The Levi’s 201 is a jean most people outside the hardcore denim world haven’t heard of, but for those who have ever worn the ubiquitous Levi’s 501, you’re benefiting from the design and heritage of the 201. In a recent hunt through the Levi’s Archives to try to find a little more of the history behind the jean, a number of documents from 1890 came to the attention of archivists, including a number discussing the 201 model.
Interestingly, the 201, while very similar in style to the considerably more famous 501, was different in a number of ways. For starters, the 201 was cut from an Amoskeag Manufacturing Company denim rather than the “XX” denim that the 501 made famous.
They were finished with a linen patch rather than the typical leather, with lighter buttons to cut cost and with a No. 2 on the label alongside the traditional lot number. In terms of the Levi’s lineage, the 201 is a unique jean and a real heritage piece from the company’s formative years.
The Levi’s family has been recently rooting to find the exact date of the 201’s inception, seeing as it is such a formative piece, but until now they had a tough time pinning it down. The closest they’ve come thus far is from a letter dated June 13, 1890, putting in an order to the manufacturers while also trying to make sure no competitors enter the market.
We have taken the liberty of adding to your order,
a sample pair of our No. 2 riveted overalls at $7.00
per doz. This is the article that we have lately put
in the market, and shall thank you to compare it
carefully with any riveted overall that may be
offered you, and oblige.
Any vintage denim hunters with more knowledge may want to get in touch with Levi’s archivists, but for now the most we know is that this is a very special piece of the Levi’s collection and should be appreciated for forming the Levi’s 501 that we’ve all grown to know and love.
It’s nice to see through the Levi’s archives that the brand takes real pride in its heritage and in the inspiration behind some of its products.