Levi’s® Denim Art Contest, “A Canvas for Personal Expression”

The 1970’s was a time of personal expression. This was especially reflected in what you wore which was evidenced in clothing trends such as decorated & embellished denim. As discussed in  “A Short History of Denim

This attitude could be seen very clearly in the “decorated denim” craze which saw beaded, embroidered, painted and sequined jeans appearing on streets from California to New York and across the ocean. Personalizing one’s jeans was such a huge trend in the United States that Levi Strauss & Co. sponsored a “Denim Art Contest” in 1973, inviting customers to send us slides of their decorated denim. The company received 2,000 entries from 49 of the United States, as well as Canada and the Bahamas. Judges included photographer Imogen Cunningham, designer Rudi Gernreich, the art critic for the San Francisco Chronicle newspaper, and the Curator for San Francisco’s De Young Museum. The winning garments were sent on an 18-month tour of American museums, and some of them were purchased by LS&CO. for the company Archives.

The idea for a contest and book cataloguing the works-of-art was conceived by the author Richard M. Owens.  Mr. Owens saw a painted denim jacket on a friend and the “idea began to take form”. He met with Bud Johns who at the time was in charge of LS&CO. advertising, and together they created the Levi’s® Denim Art Contest.

I have been very fortunate to be given permission by renowned photographer Baron Wolman, publisher of Levi’s Denim Art Contest Catalogue of Winners, (Baron Wolman/Squarebooks Publishing, 1974), to post pictures of the Winner’s submissions in this blog.

Please enjoy these denim works-of-art , courtesy Baron Wolman/Squarebooks Publishing, and what Baron Wolman and John Burks called, “A Canvas for Personal Expression”.

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1 Response to “Levi’s® Denim Art Contest, “A Canvas for Personal Expression””


  1. 1 seggfej August 29, 2014 at 6:20 pm

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