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Levi’s Celebrates 75th Anniversary Arcuate Stitching

Last Friday, on November the 16th, Levi’s jeans celebrated the 75th anniversary of their arcuate stitching. The arcuate stitching was officially trademarked back in 1943. Before they already used the arcuates, first created in 1873, but it wasn’t official their trademark until 1943.

It’s still a sort of a mystery today what the arcuates represents. This due the loss of the company’s complete archive during an earthquake in 1906. There’re a lot of speculations about the arcuates, but one thing is sure that the design changed over the years.

Five Arcuate Facts

To celebrate the 75th anniversary Levi’s jeans shared their five arcuate facts through their Unzipped blog;

  • The stitching was originally applied by a sewing machine operator using a single-needle machine. This meant that the design was stitched onto the pockets freehand, and the appearance of the design changed depending on the skill of the operator.

levis jeans

Arcuates on a repro-pair of Levi’s 501XX from 1933 of the Levi’s Vintage Clothing (LVC) collection.

  • During World War II, the arcuate stitching design was painted onto the back pockets of men’s 501 jeans in order to conserve thread for the war effort. A special pocket flasher was designed to explain why the design was painted on the jeans, also advising consumers that the paint would wash off easily.

levis arcuates

Arcuates on an original World War 2 pair of Levi’s 501XX from the 1940’s. The painted arcuates are washed away during the years.

  • In 1947, double-needle machines were first used in the company’s factories to stitch the arcuate design. This meant that the design of the stitching became uniform, nailing the diamond-shape that we still see today.

levi's jeans

Arcuates on an original pair of Levi’s 501XX from the 1947.

  • In 1967, the Levi’s housemark known as the Batwing was designed by Walter Landor & Associates. The shape is literally taken from the top half of our back pockets, with the curve of the arcuate forming the bottom.

levi's arcuates

Arcuates on an original pair of Levi’s 501XX from the late 1960’s.

levi's arcuates

Arcuates on an original kids pair of Levi’s 501XX from the 1960’s.

  • After 1973, the company began to describe the pocket design as the arcuate in company documents. It comes from the Greek word meaning a bow.

levi's arcuates

Arcuates on an original pair of Levi’s 501XX from the early 1970’s.

All the pics are taken from my private denim archive.

Learn also the 7 key details from the backpockets of Levi’s here.

Written by Wouter
I'm the founder of Long John. Next to running this daily magazine I'm working as a freelance marketing specialist for brands and retail. Specialized in denim.