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Levi’s Embraces Cycling to Work With “Commuter Series” Jeans

| Monday August 8th, 2011 | 5 Comments

Blue Jeans were originally invented with the rugged horse-riding lifestyle of the gold rush era in mind. With hard to rip, rivet-reinforced stitches and the ability to get filthy without really looking too bad, it’s no wonder they’ve always been a hit – and a treasured piece of Americana to boot.

Today, we’re riding far fewer horses to work. Instead bicycles are skyrocketing in popularity, especially in urban areas. It’s a trend that sustainability advocates are quick to point out, and many companies are encouraging for the health benefits, great reliability, and CSR reporting brownie points that come with a nice locker room and secure bike parking.

One of the few drawbacks to biking to work has always been the wear and tear on your pants – particularly in the saddle and near the chain. A small number of specialty companies have made work-suitable pants for cyclists, but they’ve been expensive and hard to find. Now, venerable jeans maker Levi Strauss has jumped on the bandwagon with a concept men’s jean called the 511 commuter.

The jean is an affordable $78, and boasts an array of handy features – reinforced material, reflective cuffs, water resistance, and even a handy slot for your bike lock (so you don’t have to put it in your back pocket).

Fashion aside, the big sustainability win here is Levi’s embracement of cycling to work as a mainstream action. Not only does Levi’s have a likely hit on their hands, but by marketing cycling-specific clothes to a greater audience, Levis indirectly encourages folks to take to the road on a bike. That’s sustainable, green thinking all around.

For now (and unfortunate for me), the jeans are only available in a hipster-esque skinny style. Many riders would likely feel more comfortable with a more ample fit. Nonetheless, the skinny motif is probably a good start for Levis, and will likely be a hit. If it is, we look forward to seeing more of levi’s products embrace cycling and the practicality of biking to work.

(Full disclosure, Levi’s sent me a pair to try out).


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  • Celeste LeCompte

    I was in a Levi’s store recently and thought I might check a pair out — the store didn’t care women’s styles, either. What about us biking women?

    • Jen Boynton

      I totally agree. I was hoping to be the reviewer and had to hand the job off to Nick because they are only offering the men’s cut right now. I assume Levi’s made this choice because there are more male than female bike commuters and they wanted to test the market. Hopefully the line will be proven successful and we’ll get our turn to try these out!

      • Paul Arthur Smith

        Yes, unfortunately bike commuting in many places where it’s not hit a critical mass are typically more male dominated. I saw an interesting article that proposed that this wasn’t just because of perceived safety or lack of it, it’s because women often have less time, since they get saddled with a greater share of parenting duties.

        As for these jeans, it’s a step forward, but still reinforcing the cliche in mainstream America’s eyes, that bicycling is for children, professional racers, and hipsters only. I’d totally support Levi’s and get some myself if they put out some more regular fit bike jeans.

  • Rosemary Lapka

    Biking: great.
    Pants suitable for biking: also great.
    The fertilizer/pesticide and water needs for the cotton and the chemicals and dyes in the fabric treatment: probably still not so great.

    Just want to make sure we keep those potential impacts that in mind too.

    Good start though Levi’s.

  • Mike

    The folks at Levis need to put down their fashion magazines and get out of the office.  Many Americans including cyclists with well developed leg muscles either can’t wear skinny pants or work where such attire would look weird. There is live outside GQ.