At the dawn of the new millennium, denim giant Levi’s released a collection which would later become the stuff of folklore within the denim world. The concept was simple enough: to reinvent the five pocket jean. However, the design team approached this goal with such fierce dedication and creative enthusiasm that the end product attained legendary status the moment it hit the shelves.

Taking inspiration from the brand’s vast archive, combined with utilizing unique and rare fabrics, the concept pushed the boundaries of denim as we knew it and set the stage for the next two decades in jeans design. The fits were fresh, forward-thinking and revolutionary. Channeling the human form, the ergonomic designs of the garments broke the mould and offered the industry something completely new. It’s name? RED.

Over twenty years later, Levi‚Äôs has re-visited it‚Äôs RED line for the first time since 2014 with a collection that honors the origins of the concept yet offers something relevant and contemporary for today. Debuted in 1999 with biannual collections through to 2007, RED took a hiatus until 2014 when the ‚ÄėLined RED‚Äô collection was released. Laying dormant for a further seven years, 2021 sees new life breathed into RED and the timing couldn‚Äôt be better. With the focus on 90‚Äôs and 00‚Äôs styles continuing to gain popularity with Gen Z, the loose silhouettes, baggy cuts and exaggerated details of RED are an ideal fit.

"The timing felt right to revisit and refresh Levi’s RED of the past because there’s an early 90’s / 2000’s nostalgia in the way people are dressing and curating secondhand/vintage finds. Levi’s RED holds sentimental value to those who love denim  and style."

‚ÄĒ Janine Chilton-Faust, Global VP of Men's Design at Levi's

The new collection sees Levi‚Äôs continue to push their sustainability agenda by using organically grown cotton and cottonized hemp in select pieces. In addition, we‚Äôre presented with some brand new fits such as the 505 ‚ÄėUtility Jean‚Äô as well as some recognizable brand icons including the Type I Trucker Jacket and a classic Chore Coat. As with anything RED, the devil really is in the detail, from irregular zigzag stitching and cinch backs to a Red Tab with a yellow half-concealed ‚ÄúR‚ÄĚ and shank buttons made to look like worn-down enamel. All this adds up to a fitting tribute to the ‚Äúlast great era of the loose fit‚ÄĚ by blending past, present and future Levi‚Äôs design references.

To get some more detail on the development of the latest RED collection, Denim Dudes spoke with Janine Chilton-Faust,¬†Global VP of Men’s Design at Levi Strauss & Co., and Jill Guenza,¬†Global VP of Women’s Design at Levi Strauss & Co.

Can you set the scene and provide an overview of the latest Levi’s RED offering and why Levi’s decided now was the time to revisit it?

The timing felt right to revisit and refresh Levi’s RED of the past because there’s an early 90’s / 2000’s nostalgia in the way people are dressing and curating secondhand/vintage finds. Levi’s RED holds sentimental value to those who love denim and style. We captured the clean aesthetic, wabi-sabi stitching details and beautiful silhouettes through a modern lens of today. 

Upon its release, RED was a revolutionary offering from Levi’s and significantly  influenced the direction of traditional denim design. How have you built on this legacy  with the current collection? 

We leveraged the Workwear RED collection from 2003 for its styling and iconic details. Our interpretation of tailored utility comes to life through modern loose fits  in styles like the trench, loose trousers, coverall, sack coat, and Type 1 trucker.  The bold details felt really fresh with the unique RED arcuate, shank and patch and bold imperfect stitching. We focused on a beautiful Italian made denim in our sustainable Cottonized Hemp. It feels relevant and modern for today.

How has denim design changed since RED first came on the scene and how did that  impact your approach this time around? 

Denim fabrication has evolved significantly. Exciting innovations in sustainability such as cottonized hemp and also more authentic looking stretch denim fabrics.

What inspired you the most when looking back at past RED collections? 

Workwear and utility has been on trend for both mens and womens the last few seasons, so we loved being able to revisit some of these archival RED pieces from the 2003 collection. It’s exciting that we are able to draw from our heritage and create something completely new. 

What are some of the contemporary Influences and inspirations which have shaped the new collection?

Fit and shape are the biggest¬†inspirations coming from the 90’s as well as tailoring and smart utilitarian trends.

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