How to put your soul into a Levi’s 501 shrink to fit jean?

The iconic moment in jeans fashion history

Sustainable design and Eco denim is the new jeans’ revolution. Today focuses are on denim that uses less water and chemicals, talk about carbon footprint and jeans life cycle is endless. However, every generation and decade have its own revolution, so I decided to walk down the memory lane to remember those other iconic moments in denim jean’s history.How to shrink your 501 shrink to fit  best tip watch this incredibly cool film scene from the film Quadrophenia  from 1979, a killer film. The iconic 501 Levi’s has inspired entire generations to wear jeans as their favorite pants. No other product has experienced and been a part of so many youth revolutions in our history. Elvis, Marlon Brando and James Dean made jean’s youth culture favorite outfit; it became a symbol of rebellion attitude and a riot against their parents who did not understand their music, idols or dancing. Jean was in a few states in the USA forbidden to wear in college because it was connected with the devil, wild and dangerous youth culture. It was the hippie’s protest jeans that stopped the Vietnam War in 1975, the beat generation and motorcycle gang’s standard uniform. In 1969 came a movie with the name Easy Rider with Fonda, Nicholson and Hopper and immortalized the jeans as a symbol of the American freedom, the freedom to ride on the highways wherever the road takes you. In 1975 came the punk culture and once again was the Jean a part of the youth rebellious

Ten iconic moments in jean’s fashion history

First out in this series of the iconic moments in denim culture was the American New York punk rock band The Ramones, then grunge culture once leads singer Kurt Cobain of Nirvana, the “boss” Bruce Springsteen, “king of cool” Steve McQueen, the “rebel Marlon Brando,” James Dean and today another icon denim time, the Levi Strauss 501 shrink to fit Jean. Jeans as we know it began with the 501 and an entirely new category of clothing was born. Not only, that, the 501 Jean has retained its fame and relevance for every successive generation, making it both first.  Take a look in your closet. No matter where you live, chances are you have a pair of blue jeans in there who is a Levi’s 501. I will not talk about the history of Levi Strauss but instead focus on the 501 shrink to fit Jean. The Levi 501 Jean was first produced in Amoskeag, New Hampshire Between 1873 and to 1922, the 501 was made in Amoskeag, New Hampshire, it got the famous selvage denim and made from natural indigo. In 1922 made Levi Strauss a gentleman’s agreement with the factory Cone Mills.  The new fabric was synthetic indigo denim and was identified with a red line on the selvage seam.

Levi Strauss made some terrible mistakes redesign of 501 in the 80’s and 90’s 

Around 1983, started Levis doing a lot of mistakes with their original model and flagship 501, they changed to non-selvage-denim, made on wider looms, still produced by Cone. I even though cannot believe why Levi Strauss did these changes to their original Jean at that time, reduce quality and remove details that people loved. This was not the only big mistake done later in the end of the 90’s they changed the back pockets and lost the girls segment. They changed their back pockets in the critical sizes 27-29, and it created an illusion were the bums looked bigger. This became fast known among teenagers. I know because I did a research test with several young girls who wore the old model and new, I did this after a few of the sales force heard about the problems from their customers the retailers. We reported of course about it to the management. However, Levi Strauss was still this large machine that did not take any signal from the market. Nevertheless, something was terribly wrong and this was just one of the factors that Levi Strauss lost sizable market shares all over the world. Do not ever underestimate the power of the consumer.
Today 501 is stronger back than ever before, they have listened to the consumers and seen what other’s brands took who understood the value of the Levi Strauss heritage and made jeans in the identical way and with the same details that Levi Strauss once had. Whatever Japanese, Swedish, American or Italian brand does not come close to what Levi’s does when they first decide to do it. Cone Mills still produce the Red line or tab for Levi’s Vintage replicas today. The original 501, however, is the raw version shrink to fit, a model with its fans, but I hope more people will try it in the future. Therefore, I made a little guide on how to be then right because this is the secret of the shrink to fit process.

How to get it right?

A true classic is the Levi Strauss 501 shrink to fit Jean. However, not everybody knows how to handle them an understandable therefore a lot of people avoid buying them. Nevertheless, a 501 shrink to fit Jean is most probably the best Jean you ever will get whatever other Jean we are talking about in this range. This is the mother of all other raw denim jeans. This Jean had a soul. Therefore, you must put a soul into as well. The Shrink-to-fit denim is an unwashed version of the 501 original that you wash, wear, and break in on your own. Most people will soak them before wear. Cold water is fine; for more shrinkage, use hot water. For most shrinking, machine washes inside-out at 30 or 40 degrees without detergent before wearing.  Many people wear them as they are dry, so they’ll assume the wearer’s shape. It is many ways to get them with your own signature. I personally love the bath tub way the best, and if you do it in a summer day it’s not so hard. However, first I wear it, as long as I possibly can do before washing them.

Eight months before my first wash of the 501 jean

My longest was eight months without. I did not wear it every day but the result you get its amazing, because every structure in the denim and the indigo coloring to get the vibrations of your bodily movement during the time you are wearing them, the longer the better. If you want a particular effect on the Jean, you should plan. For example, if you like it the look as you wear a Zippo lighter in the back pocket, you must wear it in the pocket as long as you wear the jeans, it will get an amazing effect, almost an x-ray image of the lighter. You can do it with keys hanging on the side of the Jean; turn ups inside your boots will get a nice effect. Personally, I do not like to wash them in hot water at all; ok they do not shrink as much as they will be in hot water. However, it will keep the that nice blank denim surface. This blank surface will disappear as soon you wash them in hot water. I do not like jeans the hairy look on the jeans almost.

For the best results, please refer to the following information

  • The hotter the water, the more they shrink.
  • It’s normal for dye to color the water.
  • Rinse and drip dry until damp.
  • Put them on and wear until completely
  • Wear them as long as possible before you wash them.


  • Wash infrequently and inside out.
  • Add one cup of white vinegar.
  • Line dries when possible.

Important note

Please order larger, in both waist and inseam, appropriately: Waist

  • 27?-36? – 1? larger
  • 38?-48? – 2? larger
  • 50?+ – 3? larger


  • 26?-34? – 3? larger
  • 36?+ – 4? larger

Details of the 501 shrink to fit jean

  • The original fit – runs straight and true through the seat, thigh and leg.
  • Tilted waistband pitches toward the front to sit just below the waist.
  • Five-pocket classical western jean design
  • Standard leather brand patch at back waist
  • Signature arcuate stitch at back pockets
  • Belt loop waistband
  • Button fly closure
  • 100% cotton

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Kenneth Lyngaas
Sustainable fashion designer & eco-philosopher Sustainable fashion dedicated the twenty-first century green living, design for change through system thinking, eco philosophy, spirituality and sustainability. Site made with passion for people who loves fashion and care for the environment.
Kenneth Lyngaas
Kenneth Lyngaas
Kenneth Lyngaas

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Kenneth Lyngaas
sustainableFASHION// dedicated the twenty-first century sustainable community and living. Every day, I deliver selected news on Eco design across the Internet. Most people appreciate an update without searching latest news themselves. Therefore, it’s already served. Don’t miss it, subscribe!
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