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Who would have thought a multibillion-dollar jeanswear giant would collaborate with a small Lower East Side shop? Apparently, Levi’s and Alife did, since the unlikely pair partnered up to pay homage to the iconic 501 jeans. Levi’s and the boys from Alife (a creative collective and retailer) unveiled the all-white 1,400-square-foot gallery and concept shop at 178 Orchard Street on Friday. The store features wide illuminated steps leading up to a neon-lit sales floor, and the walls are lined with framed Levi’s ads and images from the company’s archives. Tony Arcabascio, a founder of Alife, said, “We wanted people to feel as if they were walking up to a monument, so they would stop on each step and look at the evolution of the brand from the early Sixties through the mid-Eighties.”
But the key pieces are those from the limited-edition jeans line developed by the Alife group (Arcabascio, Rob Cristofaro and Arnaud Delecolle). The unisex collection includes the original 501s, in red, yellow, green, orange and, of course, blue, retailing for $165, and Rigid jeans, for $185, inspired by the 501s of the World War II era when the back pocket pattern was painted on rather than stitched because of fabric rationing.
Further uptown, there was no missing the 18-wheeler parked directly across from the tents. It was Gap’s sixth stop on its U.S. tour to promote its latest ad campaign starring Sarah Jessica Parker and Lenny Kravitz, and the sign on the side of the truck asked the campaign’s tag line, “How do you wear it?” Editors numbering 250 were invited to hop on board and customize a pair of jeans or a skirt and do a quick photo op to star in their very own Gap ad. “We knew the ladies would come for the jeans, but it’s hilarious how they’re all glamming it up for the camera,” said Kyle Andrew, vice president of brand communications. The style-makers’ top choices were the ultralow-rise jeans with black or gold tuxedo stripes.
This story first appeared in the September 13, 2004 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.