In January, Levi’s launched its “Beauty of Becoming” campaign, a five-month project where the iconic jeans company asked fifteen luminaries what would they tell their 14-year old selves. Tennis champ Naomi Osaka, music artist Jaden Smith, and fashion designer Tremaine Emory were among the group. However, Emory and his Denim Tears label are now coming together as part of a longer-term working arrangement between the two entities.
“We were so inspired by our collaboration with Tremaine that stepping into a two-year partnership just felt right,” says Jennifer Sey, Brand President of Levi’s. “As a brand we celebrate authentic self-expression and champion those who stand up for what they believe in and this shines through in Tremaine’s work.”
Citing African American artist Kara Walker as inspiration for her provocative approach to she creates her work, Emory has sought to employ “hurtful symbols, like cotton, [and give] them not even new meaning, [but] the true meaning.”
The short film Denim Tears x Levis Collaboration shows Emory speaking with his grandmothers about life in antebellum Georgia and picking cotton themselves, putting his own family members’ faces and names to the stories of “[w]hat Black people go through, what Black women go through, that’s the importance to tell their story, one of the most important stories on the human condition.”
Released initially in January, the new Denim Tears project will be a redux of the the two brands’ previous collaboration on the classic Levi’s 501 “Plain Jane” jeans. Limited-edition versions are scheduled to drop every two weeks, and the jeans will come in three colors: white, black, and light wash. However, each pair of jeans will also sport cotton wreath prints on them.
“[T]he cotton wreath, it’s like a talisman for Black people,” Emory explained in his Beauty of Becoming segment. “[The] cotton wreath is a call to return back to what built this country. We built this country while we were brought here, what that put us through, what we’re still going through. That’s just one of the ways I use iconography to bring social awareness to systematic racism, paying homage to what Black people have been through, and we’re still here…”
Visit the Denim Tears website to purchase your own Denim Tears 501® jeans. And make sure to watch Denim Tears x Levis Collaboration to see Emory’s visits with his grandmas Eliza and Evelyn as he openly shares their stories with us, too.