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Why Levi’s T-shirts were everywhere you looked this summer

Once seen as honest workwear, the brand also has rebel spirit. No wonder the T-shirt has been ubiquitous in 2018.

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When historians look back on the summer of 2018, they will talk about the record-breaking heatwave, the World Cup – and Levi’s T-shirts. On the train, in the park, at the art gallery; they are everywhere.

Levi’s says that revenues from online sales grew 19% in the second quarter of 2018. But why? Could it be that in these frighteningly uncertain times, a classic brand such as Levi’s feels reassuring? Historically, Levi’s was workwear. It stands for old-school tradition, but it also has ties with rebellion and counterculture; like Oreos and Oprah, it brings together both sides of the American political spectrum. It is cool without being pretentious, and widely available: John Lewis, Debenhams, Topman, Asos and Amazon all stock the classic Levi’s tee, as well as Levi’s shops themselves. It might also be that it serves as a substitute for the pricier/trendier Supreme box logo shirt, but at a pocket-patting £20.

Advertising has probably played a part in its recent popularity, even if it feels as if this trend started on the street. In August last year, the company released Circles, an ad showing people from different cultures dancing, from Bhangra to hora, dabke to dancehall, with the tagline: “Men, women, young, old, rich, poor, straight, gay: let’s live how we dance.” With 22m views, it was one of the top 10 most-watched ads on YouTube in 2017.

We asked Levi-wearing members of the public about their choice of purchase:

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From left: Rafay, Megan and Ryan. Photo: Malcolm Mackenzie

Ryan, 21 “I got mine a couple of months ago. I’d seen them before in a couple of places and I like the design and the brand because it’s classic.”

Meghan, 26 “I was given mine as a birthday present. Levi’s means good quality, I like that a white T-shirt is simple, goes with everything.”

Rafay, 32 “I bought the tee last year because I felt like the 90s/00s logo resurgence was a cute moment, but now I have started seeing them everywhere and it’s a bit much. It might have to become an ‘around the house’ tee instead.”

Chris, 39 “I bought it two weeks ago. I just liked the colour. Levi’s is the original: the first jeans brand, and it’s cool.”

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Valerie and Snoopy (left) and Chris. Photograph: Malcolm Mackenzie

Wesam, 22 “I was given the shirt as a gift three months ago. We saw this in the shop and liked it. It’s a classic.”

Valerie, 27 “Snoopy was the deciding factor for me. I’ve seen lots of people wearing the Levi’s T-shirts since I bought it, but I haven’t seen mine, so it doesn’t really bother me.”

 

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