Name a more perfect combination than the timeless aesthetic of Levi’s denim and the pioneering vision of Karla Welch, one of Hollywood’s most renowned stylists — I’ll wait. JUST KIDDING I CAN’T WAIT! I’m too excited to talk about this, “this” being Levi’s x Karla: a nine-piece capsule collection that launched yesterday. Fittingly, on the same day Levi’s received its rivet-pocket patent in 1873.
The collaboration with Levi’s arrives on the heels of Welch’s partnership with Hanes, which debuted last August. “It’s sort of my continuation of American classics,” Welch told me, “White tees, blue jeans, [etc.].”
Using the constraints of the classic Levi’s 501s as a base, Welch went back and forth with Levi’s Creative Director Jonathan Cheung to bring ideas she already had in her head to life. She described her concept for the collection to me as “future vintage,” and I can see why: Each piece could pass for a spectacular vintage discovery (thanks, in part, to the original indigo material used throughout the collection) while simultaneously innovating around modern trends. “If people inhabit Mars 200 years from now, what are the kids going to wear?” Welch said in a press release. “This idea of creating something that would eventually become an iconic piece of vintage clothing is the basis of the whole collection.” She makes a fair point. Considering jeans have already withstood the test of time for 145 years, I’m quite confident they’ll make it to Mars in 2218, give or take a gravity boot.
In addition to two new interpretations of the Levi’s 501 — a wide-leg flare version and a classic version with a red patent leather back pocket — the collection also includes a reversible fleece jacket, a boiler suit, a pleated jean, a red pocket Western shirt, an oversize cropped trucker jacket, a leather fringe trucker jacket and denim knickers. There’s just enough variety so that if you were interested in ditching the rest of your wardrobe and exclusively wearing Levi’s x Karla, you wouldn’t get bored anytime soon. (Denim knickers!!!!!)
To celebrate the launch, Welch asked her friends to model the collection. “I called all my friends, and they all showed up,” Welch told Glamour. Her friends happen to go by the names of Amber Heard, Amber Valletta, Hailey Baldwin, Yara Shahidi, Michelle Monaghan, Busy Philipps, Sarah Paulson, Holland Taylor, Tracee Ellis Ross, America Ferrera, SZA, Courtney Eaton, Ke’Andra Samone, Little Big Town’s Karen Fairchild and Kimberly Schlapman, Karen O, Lisa Love, SoKo, Erica Cloud, Angela Davis, Carolyn Murphy, Mackenzie Davis, Natalie Manuel Lee, Judy Greer, Laura Brown, Yael Cohen Braun, Clementine Welch, Sophie Reed, and Levi’s Karyn Hillman and Jen Sey.
JUST SOME FRIENDS! (My fingers almost gave out on me halfway through typing out and spell-checking all those names, but I’ll do anything for dramatic effect).
I’m guessing by this point you have surmised that I’m geeking out a little bit about this collaboration. I’ll admit it! I am! I’m elated because I’ve been talking about (and writing about) the confusing state of jeans that has permeated the fashion industry over the course of the last few years thanks to the rapid turnover of trending silhouettes. I diagnosed myself with denim burnout as a result. Ergo, I’ve been following Welch’s partnership with Levi’s since the moment it was announced, keen to quench my thirst for jeans that feel exciting again.
The pricing is steeper than what I typically associate with Levi’s (while most regular pairs of Levi’s 501s cost under $100, the pieces in Levi’s x Karla range from $150 for a shirt to $420 for a fringed jacket). However, Levi’s has pledged to make a donation to the Everytown for Gun Safety support fund as part of the collaboration. “That’s the basis and ethos of x Karla,” Welch told me. “Create pieces I love and use them for social change!”
Photos via Levi’s® x karla.