Levi Strauss & Co. is offering aspiring designers the same opportunity to reimagine the iconic Original 501 Jeans that was offered to contestants on Wednesday night’s episode of “Project Runway.”

In the latest episode of Bravo’s reality show, now in its fourth season, the remaining contestants were taken to Brooklyn’s industrial waterfront, where Levi Strauss began his voyage to San Francisco in 1853, and asked to put their skills to work to develop their own iconic garments using Levi’s trucker jackets and pair of 501 jeans. The winner’s design will be offered through the company’s online store in a limited edition run of 501 pieces.

This story first appeared in the January 24, 2008 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

“We felt like the show was only getting stronger year after year and it provided us a nice opportunity to integrate the brand,” said Robert Cameron, Levi’s vice president of marketing.

Levi’s has decided to extend the campaign and hopefully capitalize on the buzz by translating it into Web traffic through an online competition dubbed Project 501 that will allow any aspiring designer the chance to have his or her own interpretation produced and sold. The Project 501 Web site began accepting submissions late Wednesday night, and offers would-be designers a toolbox of Levi’s elements to use in their designs, including rivets, denim swatches, leather patches and gold stitching. Contestants will submit images of their designs to the site. Each design must include at least one element from the 501.

Unlike “Project Runway,” a panel of celebrity judges won’t be crowning a winner. Instead, those submitting designs to the online competition will be voted on by their peers. The pool of submissions will be winnowed down to the top 20 during the week of Feb. 21 and a winner will be revealed the following week.

“The intention is to take the fun from the challenge on the show and have people take off with it,” said Cameron.

The winning designer will have a sample run of his or her submission produced, defined as somewhere between 10 and 20 pieces by Levi’s, and offered for sale through the company’s online store. Proceeds from the sales will be donated to a charity. The winner also will receive a Levi’s gift certificate for $501. The second-place finisher will receive a $501 gift certificate, and third place will receive $250.

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