Levi's is synonymous with jeans. In fact, if you say you're wearing "a pair of Levi's" or even just "Levi's," everyone automatically knows what you're wearing even though the brand makes more than just blue cotton trousers. From hoodies and knitwear to outerwear and accessories, the Bay Area-born brand's catalog is far more robust than many realize.
And it always has been. Back in the '70s, Levi's sold shoes, too, under a line called Levi's For Feet. The name might sound familiar, but that's only because the brand has used in recent collaborations with New Balance, for example, where they fashioned sneakers out of old jeans or applied faded denim accents to otherwise suede sneakers. Now, though, the collection is back and with original Levi's designs to boot.
“Sneakers have been dominant for so long now, and people are looking for other footwear options, not least ones that are a true classic and will last them for many years," Lee Anderson, Levi’s Senior Global Footwear Merchandiser, told Highsnobiety. He led the brand's search for past designs, all in hopes of reviving them for the modern audience. The Raven, a mid-height sneaker-boot hybrid (kind of like a Wallabee) was his primary target, but few had seen the shoe since 1975.
“We searched the globe looking for the original Raven and managed to find a pair in a thrift store in Los Angeles,” he said in the same interview. “We’ve made some minor tweaks from the original – like dropping the outsole height to give it a more contemporary flavor – but nothing too drastic. It was just the perfect shoe.”
Now dubbed the RVN 75, they're similarly stellar even today, in a footwear market that's more crowded than ever. Although folks will probably be hesitant to buy boots from a jeans brand, they shouldn't be. The suede pairs use raw materials from Steads, one of the UK's oldest tanneries, while the leather pairs are Horween, a Chicago-based tannery that's universally regarded as one of the best in the business.