In our quest for the best pair of jeans every girl should have, we host a new fashion battle. Entering today’s ring, we have two American brands with catchy labels: Levi’s and GAP.
Levi’s is an old acquittance, but we will spend a couple more lines about it, anyway. Interestingly, there is an unexpected connection between these two companies, because GAP owes its own foundation to Levi’s!
We will shed some light on how the giant and the baby brand helped shape and influence our idea of fashion via the media.
In fact, we often buy our clothes and jeans by following an impulse or copying a Hollywood star. What if we also want the best deal and authenticity?
We are here for that, to show you which brand stands the test of time and fashion passing by.
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When Löb Strauss moved to New York to rejoin its family, he changed his name to Levi from which the globally famous brand has been named.
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Levi’s family business consisted of trading dry goods from Europe, but Levi’s empire was born when he moved to the West coast to represent the family company.
He was joined by his brother-in-law; finally, Jacks Davis – one of his usual clients – proposed an investment he could not say no to: super-strong pants with metal reinforcements for very hard-working people, the “blue jeans”.
From the officialization of the patent in 1873 to our days, Levi’s was able to attract and represent new and younger customers: miners, hippies, students worldwide.
Levi’s knew how to innovate rough clothes like jeans and make them appealable, fashionable, and irresistible: shrinkage, stone-washing, and also many stellar endorsements.
1.1 Two Popular Levi’s Jeans
We picked two examples from Levi’s wide collection to give you a taste of this brand’s unique style.
Levi’s Wedgie Fit Ankle Women’s Jean
This model offers a vintage twist combined with easy wearability.
These jeans are a slim model with a high waist; they have a wide ankle cut and fit comfy down the legs.
They are made to emphasize and define the back. They feature the iconic leather back patch, five pockets, and button fly, and are available in different colors and washes.
Levi’s 315 Shaping Boot Cut Women’s Jeans
315 is a pair of jeans made of sustainably-sourced materials with a touch of elastane to fit and look like jeggings.
Its fabric is lightweight and features the Levi’s Sculpt with Hypersoft system to wrap the silhouette and support where needed.
It’s a mid-rise model available in three variants with boot cut, 5 pockets, and zip fly.
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There is a business connection and roughly a “gap” of a century between the jeans giant and Gap.
“The GAP” was founded in San Francisco in 1969 by Don and Doris Fisher. Don, a real estate businessman, was also a close friend of Walter Haas Jr, Levi’s CEO at that time.
Mr. Fisher found his idea in the sudden success of the “Tower of Shoes”, a temporary shoe shop set in a Quonset Hut selling every size, color, and model of shoe ever desired by any woman.
He proposed Haas to give him the exclusivity to sell just Levi’s pants in a similar business.
In the end, he did it and started to call the youngsters by selling Levi’s jeans and records.
In 1974, GAP launched its first fashion line and, four years later, its own jeans label.
Fisher’s company expanded by acquiring other brands (Banana Republic) and launching side labels to expand its public and offer other than jeans.
Its global expansion imploded after several shop closures from 2011; since then, GAP has been facing an economic rollercoaster, but its fashion still stays strong and true.
2.1 Two Popular Gap’s Jeans
How casual is GAP?
These two examples satisfy everyone in comfort.
Gap Sky High Wide – Leg Jeans
Sky High is a very casual model with a high waist, and a linear silhouette, that falls down in a wide flared cut and a faux cuff.
Its fabric is light and stretch in the typical washed pale blue with zip-fly and button closure.
Gap Mid Rise & Repair Girlfriend Jeans
These GAP jeans are a girlfriend model with a distressed style, washed off tones, and rips give a “very experienced” look.
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Its denim fabric is mid-stretch and manufactured with an ecological method to save water.
These jeans have a button closure, zip fly, slim legs, and cuffs that can be unrolled to taste.
It is available for normal, tall, and petite body shapes.
3. Levi’s, Gap & the Pop Culture
Another shared point is the relationship between these two brands and the popular or “pop” culture.
This is more than influencing the audience with catchy TV adverts, even though these play a big role.
Levi’s and GAP bound their names with famous actors and personalities as fashion models for the people. This move involved some smart “product placements”.
Levi’s was notoriously tied to the Wild West, the world of cowboys. This connection was made clear and fashionable when John Wayne wore the iconic 501 in the 1939 movie “Stagecoach”.
Many other western films followed, but Levi’s wanted to attract young people with a different kind of idol like Marlon Brando, playing the bad boy in Levi’s 501 in 1953’s “The Wild One”.
The Hollywood model created a craze among the teenagers leading to the jeans being banned from schools.
Not just men, we know how the company opened the doors to women so that even Marilyn Monroe can be seen in Levi’s 501 on screen in 1961’s “The Misfits”.
The list could go on and on, but Martin McFly wearing Levi’s pants in “Back to the Future” trilogy is one of the less subtle examples.
Levi’s left its mark in the music industry, particularly in the hip-hop world: jeans worn as identity (see the Beastie Boys) or mentioned in rap songs with Snoop Dogg and Jay-Z.
GAP did not stay still: its unique Pocket-T – a shirt launched in 1984 – was timely sported on the screens by Michael J. Fox in “Back to the Future” (1985)!
GAP can boast a huge team of actors, artists, models, and singers, and its promotion is mainly via adverts.
A cover of Vogue in the ’80s showed top models like Naomi Campbell in all-white outfits and white GAP jeans; other ads starred Sarah Jessica Parker, The Aerosmith, Madonna, and Mary J. Blige.
But when the blue jeans were not the favorite anymore by the youngsters close to the ’00s, GAP bet on khakis and cargoes, with campaigns featuring archive pictures of legends like Hemingway, Dalì, and Mohammed Alì.
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GAP could have lost favors, but it knows how to stay in the loop, the latest partnership with Kanye West and appearances in “Stranger Things” are emblematic.
4. Conclusion: Which Brand is Better?
We should ask ourselves which brand between Levi’s and GAP has the best offer and the right balance for comfort, style, and strength.
Both brands made steps towards an ecological production involving reduction of water, strong ethics, and recycled materials.
At the moment, GAP has 69% of its cotton from a circular economy. It also uses polyester and small percentages of spandex (elastane), and rayon to make its jeans and jeggings stretchable.
Levi’s denim can include elastane, lyocell, and polyester; for water and cotton usage, the brand keeps investing, and many jeans are sustainably marketed.
Levi’s has a comprehensive catalog consisting of basics, vintage like the classic 501, special collaborations, and a plus-size section.
Sometimes it is hard to find just one good pair of jeans, because there could be several colors, texturized details and wash combination for the same model!
GAP developed into a universal brand. In a sense, its jeans do not solely cover statement styles, but also all body shapes.
In fact, many models are available in larger sizes and different lengths to fit petite and tall.
A visible restriction is the limited color palette for each model. Its basic style also seems to shrink the possibilities for those who want a remarkable pair of jeans unless you find an in-store personalization service to stitch decorations or patches of your choice.
Although we like the GAP’s casual options and customization, the battle is hard and we must choose Levi’s.
The giant shows all of its experience and offers a broader selection, where each piece looks strong and truly unique.
Everyone knows when you are wearing a myth, not just you.