Conservative pundit Glenn Beck is performing an inverse operation on the maxim, “If you can’t beat them, join them.” After seeing Levi’s controversial “Go Forth” advertisement during Monday Night Football last September, he took to his radio show to denounce the company’s “European socialist” message that he thought glorified revolution. The ad, which had already been banned in the U.K., overlaid footage of young “Occupy”-like rioters and revelers with quotes from a Charles Bukowski poem. The man behind 2010’s Restoring Honor Rally was incensed by his favorite denim brand’s apparent support of anti-American causes and announced that he would never wear his Levi’s again.
“I can’t believe I’m saying this,” Beck said. “I love Levi’s. Never again, Levi’s, never again will you get a dime from me. I know you’re not disappointed. Never again. I won’t wear your stupid red tab. The quintessential American piece of clothing doing this. Just for what? Because you just want to sell, because you want the controversy? I don’t think so. You believe it. You say you want your jeans to be the uniform of progress.”
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Instead of only protesting with his wallet, Beck decided to strike back and reinforce his dedication to all things America by introducing two brand new styles of jeans through his online-only 1791 Supply & Co. fashion line—named after the year the Bill of Rights was added to the Constitution—this week.
The jeans are unabashedly patriotic, if not suspiciously similar to one another. The “vintage-inspired Western fit” pants are both dark-wash denims with button flies and washer-burr copper rivets. Beck’s “Classic Cut” version is a roomy fit with an indian chief top button and signature medium brown stitching, while the “Straight Cut” style has a buffalo top button and golden stitching. Crucial differences, of course. A pair of these rough-and-tumble dugarees cost $129.99 each, and they stay faithful to Beck’s commitment to strengthening America one step at a time—each pair is woven at Greensboro, N.C.’s Cone Denim Mills and cut and sewn in Kentucky. (Levi’s are manufactured in Latin America and Asia.)
“It is difficult to find American products that you can be profitable on and are good quality. We don’t do it in America anymore,” Beck said in his announcement on his radio show.
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Beck spared no detail in promoting his new product, which is sold on a rustic-looking website that also sells items like his 1791 Christmas sweater and graphic tee. A video advertisement shows a gruff-faced Christian Bale lookalike welding iron and building a handmade rocket outside in his 1791 “American” jeans. A voiceover promotes shooting for the moon, timelessness, and working in America, for America, just like people did when the first denims were invented—by Levi Strauss.
If Beck’s hard-line patriotism seems too intense for a blue jeans, remember that other diehard American moralists have taken to products to advance their values. W Ketchup, which calls itself “America’s ketchup,” was founded in June 2004, nine days after President Ronald Reagan’s death—and amid George W. Bush’s contentious re-election bid against John Kerry (married to Teresa Heinz of Heinz ketchup fame) to celebrate the American consumer and “the principles that made this country great.”
It’s unclear at the moment whether Beck’s jeans will do just that; all we know is that these are pretty expensive Dad jeans.