Solange, Snoop Dogg, And Others Speak on Music’s Connection to Denim Clothing

Levi’s has released a new short film in which various musicians, including everyone from Snoop Dogg to Solange, weigh in on musical expression, artistic communication, and, naturally, how denim fits in to that creative conversation.

Snoop said of the classic Levi’s 501 jean: “It’s so simple you can add to it. It’s like a cake with no icing.”

The video is the fifth installment in Levi’s 501 Jeans: Stories of An Originala docu-series telling stories of denim-wearers and how jeans have become a cultural staple for people of all walks of life. That absolutely includes Snoop.

He continued: “I’m not a politician, I’m Snoop Dogg. What’s going on with the sign of the times, I’m just being me. When it’s beautiful I speak on beauitful events, when it’s ugly I tell you how ugly it is.”

“Throughout musical history, it’s really about the energy you possess, in that denim, or that T-shirt,” Solange told the famous denim brand’s camera crew. “Different artists have aspirations to speak these political and social messages through their music. That’s incredible – whether it be Nina Simone, or Marvin Gaye, or even Earth, Wind, & Fire with their spiritualism – those were all different forms of activism.”

Other artists interviewed include Vince Staples, Kilo Kish, The Shelters, Joyce Manor, and King Tuff.

Take a look below:

Charli XCX Rocks Levi’s & Liberty of London in LA

Receiving an invitation to the Levi’s showroom in LA, better known as the Haus of Strauss, is like scoring a golden ticket. From the second you step into the legendary denim label’s enchanting, devastatingly stylish wonderland, you’re immediately hit with a surge of creative energy that’s impossible to resist, which is likely why brands can’t stop collaborating with them. The latest label to team up is cool-kid UK brand, Liberty of London.

Following will.i.am’s eco-conscious range of denim, Levi’s worked with Liberty to revive archival denim silhouettes that work well with the exclusive prints designed by their across the pond friends. The result was a 13-piece range of fresh looks comprised of the 501 jean short, the boyfriend skinny jeans, the iconic Trucker jacket, a hot bustier and a set of sweet accessories. 

To celebrate this pretty-damn-genius collab, UK singer-songwriter Charli XCX hit the scene for an exclusive performance, which was opened by local spin doctor DJ Michelle Pesce. Shop here or at Levi’s stores everywhere when the collection drops on June 2nd.
 
 
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Watch the collab video below: 

will.i.am on His Levi’s Collab & Why He Isn’t Trying to Change the World

Fact: will.i.am can’t stop working. A founding member of Grammy-winning hip-hop/pop group the Black Eyed Peas, the 38-year-old multihyphenate’s growing list of titles include songwriter, entrepreneur, DJ, record producer, and philanthropist. His latest venture is EKOCYCLE—a eco-focused initiative with Coco-Cola that drives  brands to produce items made in part from recycled materials. The latest brand to jump on board is Levi’s, who crafted a limited-edition pair of 501 jeans made of plastic bottles.  

Cleverly named the WasteLess jean, the design comprises of 29% post-consumer recycled content and uses and average of eight recycled PET plastic bottles per pair. (Peep the promo video here.) This past week, Levi’s kicked off the game-changing collab with a party at LA’s Haus of Strauss showroom, hosted by the brand’s VP of Design Jonathan Kirby and Will himself. I sat down with the artist to hear more about the collab, how he tames his creativity (I mean, the dude is everywhere), and why attempting to change the world will get us nowhere. 

What is your earliest memory of recycling?
"It was actually when I was an adult, living on my own. My girlfriend said ‘we need to put the bottles and plastic in this container so we could go to Thrifty’s and turn them in.’ Then we started to collect cans and send them to the liquor store to get money. We were poor."

How did you make this partnership happen?
"I came up with the concept in 2008. In 2009, I made the deck and pitched it to Coke and all there executives in Atlanta. The concept was simple: take the word "COKE" and turn it around, so it’s "EKOC" and replace the "C" with different things that related to our society, such as ‘conscious, cycle, community, center, collaboration, consumption’ and so on. It took a few years before we turned it into something real and launched with our partners, including Levi’s." 

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How do you maintain your creativity energy?
"I try to control my brain. It wants to do everything, so I have to start taming it. Because I could be, like, ‘I want to design lamps!’ and then suddenly start working on that. No, I need to cool out and focus on one thing at a time."

Whose creative energy do you admire?
"There are a few people, like Philippe Starck. He’s on another level and does a bunch of stuff. I think he’s an amazing guy. Kanye West is dope, too. I really admire a few fashion folks like Christian Louboutin and Vivienne Westwood."

Speaking of fashion, would you ever want to design your own collection?
"No, because fashion’s hard. Hats off to all the designers out there because that stuff is really, really hard. You’re thinking so far ahead knowing that it’s not forever. Like, when you’re making a song, you’re not really thinking that far. You’re thinking of right now, knowing that if you crack it right, it could be nostalgic and last forever. Fashion is not like that. It’s about how you feel at the moment, but also keeping in mind what people are going to be wearing way in advance. 

So, is that a hard no, or should we never say never?
"It’s a no, for right now. I’m enjoying my work with EKOCYCLE, which allows me to design but also focus on sustainability and global progress."

What is one thing that everyone could do to really change the world?
"We need to inspire the world rather that try to change it. Changing the world is a scary concept, actually, which is why the world stays the same. Instead, I want to inspire people to change their lives. Be a little bit more conscious about the things you buy, because we’re not. We’re not conscious of the things we buy, put in our bodies, put in our minds, and put in our homes."

 
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Levi’s Toasts Badass Bikers & Art at the Pop Up Flea

This past weekend, art fiends, fashion stars and nostalgic bikers flocked to Drive-In Studios’ Pop Up Flea to catch a wild new Levi’s Vintage Clothing (LVC) exhibition called "The Biker with Oil and Leather & The Bikeriders." Held Friday through Sunday, the event featured a showcase of 21 LVC black leather motorcycle jackets customized by 13 globally-recognized artists and illustrators using oil paints. 

In addition to saluting LVC’s storied support of hand-painted moto jackets, the show was also a tribute to American photographer and filmmaker Danny Lyon and his renowned 1986 photo-doc, The Bikeriders, which was a study of outlaw motorcyclists. "Oil and Leather" featured tons of rare photos, outtakes and letters directly from Lyon’s rad personal archive.

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If you missed the NYC installation and find yourself in Tokyo, the show is heading to the Levi’s store in Shinjuku this Friday, December 7th. The jackets will be sold with all proceeds benefiting Ashinaga foundation.

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Levi’s Collabs with Art Icon Vik Muniz on Tees for a Cause

Although Levi’s has been around since 1853, the century-spanning American brand never ceases to break new ground. From unique partnerships to thought-provoking campaigns, their ultra-inspiring (not to mention badass) projects continue to keep fans at the edge of their seats. Case in point: their "Friends Of…" program. 

In honor of their latest collaboration with Brazilian visual art pioneer Vik Muniz, I stopped by an intimate dinner hosted by the artist at the Levi’s brand’s fantastic Los Angeles studio, the Haus of Strauss. Following the program’s inaugural T-shirt collaboration with David Byrne, Sofia Coppola, Dave Eggers, Maira Kalman and Alice Waters, the second installment features an array of tee designs by a progressive slew of unique talents who all happen to be friends of Muniz: Mark Bradford (artist), the Campana Brothers (designers), and Carlos Saldanha (filmmaker behind Ice Age and Rio). 

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The limited-edition tees are $34 a pop and all proceeds benefit Vik’s favorite non-profit, Spectaculu Art and Technology School, which provides free, artistic and technical education and workshops for underprivileged 17-21 year-olds living in Rio de Janeiro. As far as the tees’ designs, they’re noticeably more minimalist than his past work, but somehow leave the same sense of wonderment. For instance, this tee features a bird sitting on a barbed wire. Muniz explains "the same wire that makes the wire makes the bird," which can also be said about the cyclical process of nature. If you love Levi’s, are in the market for a new tee, and need to brush up on your philanthropic efforts, look no further
 
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Levi’s Pulls UK Release of Latest Campaign Due to London Riots

Although the first global campaign video from Levi’s was made prior to the devastating riots in London, Manchester, and Birmingham, some scenes are still too thematically close for comfort, it seems. Featuring shots from May Day in Berlin and violence eerily similar to current events, the denim label has agreed to temporarily postpone the release of their ad in the UK. “While Go Forth is about embodying the energy and events of our time, it is not about any specific movement or theme, rather it is about optimism, positive action and a pioneering spirit,” a Levi’s spokesman explains to Metro. “Out of sensitivity for what is happening in the UK, we have temporarily pulled our Facebook and cinema spots in the country.”

After watching the campaign video in question (below), we agree that the youth rebellion theme is probably a bit tone deaf for right now. What do you think?

FashionFeed: Models Reading Books & Riding Bikes

● Phillip Lim’s fall 2011 video features hot girls modeling his designs while biking around San Francisco. Perfect. [Style] ● If you’re wondering what Constance Jablonski and Liu Wen are reading this summer (because models read too, you know), Modelina has rounded up the lit picks of over 30 runway regulars. [Modelina] ● Vogue’s “Influencers Network” has been revealed, and it features a panel of 1,000 bloggers that we’ve never heard of. [Adweek]

● Miami Swim Week is upon us, and we’ve got our eye on Tori Praver. Peep her resort 2012 collection that was “inspired by the unique cultures and gorgeous scenery of Western deserts and exotic Africa.” [Harper’s Bazaar] ● For the next phase of the Levi’s Film Workshop, last night the brand debuted three short films to celebrate the art of growing, preparing, and serving food. All three films are now live on their Vimeo page. [Levi’s Vimeo]

Levi’s Maintains Collaboration Streak with LA MOCA, Andre Saraiva

From designing pieces for Junya Watanabe to producing capsule collections with Opening Ceremony, Levi’s knows how to tag team. Now, to align with the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles’ “Art in the Streets” exhibit, the brand has partnered with 10 legendary street artists to customize their classic trucker jacket’s back panel, including French graffiti artist and nightlife impresario André Saraiva (first jacket, above).

A new jacket will be released every two weeks in limited-edition quantities (only 50 per design). The project will conclude with a release dedicated to the late, iconic NYC street artist Keith Haring on August 6 (second jacket pictured). See the rest of the trucker jackets here.

The collaboration ties in with the Levi’s Film Workshop, currently being held next door to the MOCA, and captures the story of art and its connection to the underground through a series of film and video projects, hands-on classes, and screenings open to the public. I stopped by the workshop this weekend, and what began as a quick visit turned into two hours of filmmaking activities – and I’m going back for more soon. It’s a must if you’re in LA, so peep their workshop calendar here to get in on the action.

Levi’s Photo Workshop: An Evening with Bruce Davidson

It’s kind of funny to see Bruce Davidson, photo, and shop in the same sentence. Davidson, a man who created a legacy off of real life photography, doesn’t even use a digital camera. His career has been made on exclusively silver film and dedicated to everything real, beautiful, and sometimes disturbing. Last night I had the pleasure of attending the Levi’s Photo Workshop discussion with Davidson, who one audience member described best as “disarmingly innocent.” Incredible for a man who has photographed and seen so much. He has shot everyone from homeless people to Marilyn Monroe. Davidson spoke to the crowd as a movie screen-sized slideshow of his work, spanning some 50 years, played to a standing room-only crowd. It was incredible to hear the story behind each photograph from Bruce firsthand. Many of the most famous images were taken right here in New York City. His series from Spanish Harlem in the ’60s was especially moving. People were so taken aback, the crowd was almost completely silent during the whole presentation. Despite images of dilapidated neighborhoods, homelessness, and unimaginable poverty, Bruce was able to capture a form of beauty.

Davidson described taking great risks to shoot his subjects, including climbing atop bridges, walking through rough neighborhoods, and getting mugged several times while shooting his subway series. The most incredible part is that he chose to do real life/documentary photography over the glitz and glamor of fashion photography. By the ’60s he was in high-demand as a fashion photographer and he gave it up because he simply, “Wanted to shoot the South,” he said, referring to his photos shot in Alabama and South Carolina during the Civil Rights Movement.

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In the 1964 he was hired by Esquire Magazine to shoot Los Angeles. They assumed he would shoot it as the glamorous image the city portrayed. Instead he shot real people doing real things—like eating and working out. The images wouldn’t be published for many years because, as Bruce said, “Esquire didn’t get it at the time…but the Beastie Boys did.” They famously used one of his Esquire rejects for the cover of their triple-platinum album Ill Communication. The slideshow presentation ended with a photo of a palm tree-lined beach in Santa Monica, CA. A perfect ending, as Davidson described his current interest as “palm trees. I’m obsessed with palm trees right now.” He plans to return to Los Angeles in January or February 2011 to shoot, where he will have plenty of subjects to fulfill his current tall and skinny muse—the palm tree. At the end of the discussion one audience member asked, “What has been the scariest thing you’ve done in your career? Are you ever really scared?” Davidson’s response, “Every minute.”

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