Music and Youth provide hope in this uncertain times with Levi’s
I’m sitting in my apartment (where else would I be?) in the middle of week 7 of quarantine and I’mdreaming about live music. Wasn’t that fun? That sense of connection and togetherness, wedged too close together, trying to stake a good spot. Experiencing the immediacy and pure joy of music. Together. Together together – in the same space. Not like virtual together. Real together. Dancing, singing, jumping for joy. Celebrating! I’m holding out for that. I want that again.
We’re doing the right thing – staying home, staying connected. But I think its ok to say I long for live music. And I know we’ll get back to it. When it’s safe and we can jump for joy without fear.
As I think about live music, I can’t help but think wistfully about festival season. Levi’s always goes big at music festivals with Levi’s®Tailor Shops across the globe – featuring world class denim customization – its art really. Coachella is the biggest festival of all and so is our denim customization at Coachella. And our guest list. Last year our festival campaign, timed to launch during Coachella, featured Hailey Bieber as the face of the iconic 501. Nothing represents the fun of festival season like a 501 cutoff in the desert.
This year I was so excited to revisit the magic with Hailey, with the addition of our friend Jaden. But in lieu of dancing in the desert, I’m left daydreaming about some of my favorite Coachella performances of the past (Janelle Monae, Lorde, Beyonce) while conjuring what would have been my new favorites from this year’s intended lineup – Ari Lennox? Frank Ocean? Well, there may not be any festivals but we’re launching the campaign anyway because we all deserve to dream a little.
As I look at these images I’m reminded of our history – one mired in youthful optimism and progress. I’m reminded of photos from Woodstock in 1969 – billed as 3 days of peace and music. It was the epitome of activism, optimism and creativity. As Bob Haas (LS&Co. Chairman Emeritus and great-great-grand nephew of the company’s founder Levi Strauss) has said, “Levi’s is the embodiment of the energy and events of our time.” When the Berlin Wall came down, German youth stood atop it wearing Levi’s as a symbol of freedom and democratic inclusivity. Go to any Pride Parade around the world and you will find a Levi’s float and LGBTQ+ and their allies wearingLevi’s. It’s not an accident. Levi’s has always been the choice for those who dare to speak up and out, to use their voices, to fight for change, to hope for better days, more inclusion, more love, more joy.
Harvey Milk, the first openly gay elected official in California wore Levi’s as he fought for gay rights here in San Francisco. Artists with unwavering creativity and a bold vision – Georgia O’Keefe, Andy Warhol, and Keith Haring – all wore Levi’s. And musicians with original voices – yep, you guessed it. Levi’s. Debbie Harry, John Lennon, the Ramones, Bruce Springsteen, Kurt Cobain, Run DMC, Joan Jett, Elvis, Beyonce. The list goes on. Levi’s.
Levi’s has always been a symbol of democratic inclusion and youth empowerment, the choice of those daring to push for a better tomorrow. Levi Strauss himself was the embodiment of this ideal. He left his home in (Bavaria) to seek a better life on the shores of California. He opened a dry goods store and donated the first of his profits to a local orphanage.
As we look at today’s youth – this generation that is unapologetically demanding, creating, and pushing for the world they deserve to live in – it is clear that they are carrying forward a legacy. Make no mistake, young people are being hit hard during this crisis. Beyond not getting to experience seminal milestones like graduations and proms, they are graduating into tremendous economic uncertainty, their planned futures unclear for now. They are living at home with their parents when most would be breaking out on their own. They are on pause for the immediate future with incredible challenges ahead.
But their optimism and sense of community and identity will carry them through. I see it in my own kids. My son is 19, a college student, an artist.He’s not afraid to be exactly the person he is. To claim his artist status. To express himself through art in a way that is so uniquely HIM. And he revels in being part of a larger artist community. They find strength in the collective. We could all learn from that.