Thursday , 28 May 2015

Levi’s Opens Jeans Factory in Braddock, PA?

Levi's Braddock, PA ad campaign billboard in Oakland
Levi's "Braddock, PA" billboard on Fifth Ave in Oakland

No, Levi Strauss and Co. did not actually open a blue jeans factory in Braddock, PA. We drove all over the quaint dilapidated town of good ol’ Braddock and the only factory we saw was manufacturing steel.

The company was founded in San Francisco in 1853. They started out with denim overalls and began manufacturing jeans (as we know them) in the 1920’s. Eventually they closed their U.S. factories one-by-one. By the 1990’s, 3% of the jeans sold by Levi’s were claimed to be Made in USA, but despite the tag, the Department of Labor discovered those jeans were actually put together by Chinese workers in “slavelike” conditions.

Today, the label remains an American icon, but you won’t find “Made in America” on any of the tags. Levi’s doesn’t operate any plants in USA. So why does their new marketing campaign say Braddock, PA? We can’t tell you. But it’s pretty damn boring if you ask us.

When we first saw the ad, we were excited because it looked like Levi’s had something big going on in Pittsburgh. So we set out for Braddock, PA. Other than Kennywood, most people from the city rarely go beyond Waterfront. There’s a ton of history on that side of town. We were hoping to find a Willy Wonka style jeans factory right smack dab in the middle of Braddock.

It wasn’t there. When we arrived, it felt like we were chasing a mirage. We’re used to writing about $2.50 cupcakes and bacon tasting events (coming soon). This was something else. This was a kick-in-the-ass reality check about the state of some of the surrounding neighborhoods in Pittsburgh.

Once a flourishing community of over 20,000 people, the town of 3,000 is evidently stuck in a devastating slump. It could be argued that this slump was partially caused by companies like Levi’s in the first place. Oddly, of the few businesses that are still in existence, we didn’t see any shops that might carry Levi’s jeans. We didn’t see anyone who appeared to be sporting Levi’s jeans. And most shocking was that we didn’t even see a Levi’s “Braddock, PA” billboard like the ones in Oakland.

You could say that Levi’s is using the struggling neighborhood to form their image and get extra karmic points. You could say they are exploiting the misfortunes of the area for their own advantage. The ad campaign itself makes little sense. The slogan “We Are All Workers” is a slap in the face after the controversial closure of UPMC Braddock Hospital.

Braddock doesn’t need misleading ads about them. They need jobs. If Levi’s really wanted to serve the community of Braddock, maybe they would have planted themselves there to give the locals a real chance to “go forth”. Instead, the jeans in those Braddock, PA ads are manufactured in MEXICO and other places outside of the United States.

To be fair, Levi Strauss and Co. is donating a million bucks to Braddock over a two-year period. And, the models in the ads are actual citizens of Braddock. But where will that money go? Will the people have a say? Will the abandoned and extremely dangerous buildings be removed? Will the kids get a new park?

Every penny helps, and we’re not saying this is all bad – but it’s funny to read marketing and design bloggers write about how cool the campaign is and how Levi’s is putting a place like Braddock on the map. Yeah, it’s easy to type that on your iPad from an air conditioned office in LA or NYC, but how about taking a drive down Braddock Avenue before distributing your 2 cents with the rest of the world? Or, explore the situation further like the snarky writers at Levi’s Go Forth.

When the steel industry left, we lost 250,000 jobs. We need something to bring that back. – Mayor of Braddock

An afternoon trip to Braddock, PA…

The town of Braddock, PA
The town of Braddock, PA
Welcome to historic Braddock Sign
Historic Braddock... Welcome Back
Dilapidated Braddock, PA home of LEVI's new advertising campaign
Braddock News and other abandoned storefronts on Braddock Ave - "Go Forth"
Dilapidated Braddock, PA home of LEVI's new advertising campaign
Dilapidated Braddock, PA home of LEVI's new advertising campaign
The basketball court in Braddock, PA
Rusty basketball courts in Braddock, PA. Got tetanus?
Dilapidated Braddock, PA home of LEVI's new advertising campaign
Neals Cafe in Braddock, PA
Dilapidated Braddock, PA home of LEVI's new advertising campaign
Dilapidated Braddock, PA home of LEVI's new advertising campaign
Dilapidated Braddock, PA home of LEVI's new advertising campaign
Home of LEVI's new advertising campaign
Braddock, PA home of LEVI's new advertising campaign
Home of LEVI's new advertising campaign
A dangerous, wide open abandoned building in Braddock, PA
A dangerous, wide open abandoned building in Braddock, PA
An "urban farm" in Braddock, PA
Urban Farm in Braddock, PA
Urban Farm in Braddock, PA
Urban Farm in Braddock, PA
Edgar Thomson Steel Works factory in Braddock, PA
Edgar Thomson Steel Works factory in Braddock, PA
Islay's deli and dairy products on Braddock Ave
Isaly's deli and dairy products on Braddock Ave
One of the countless abandoned houses in Braddock, PA
One of the countless abandoned houses in Braddock, PA
One of the countless abandoned buildings in Braddock, PA
One of the countless abandoned buildings in Braddock, PA
Buildings on Braddock Avenue
Buildings on Braddock Avenue
Some of the countless boarded-up buildings in Braddock
Some of the countless boarded-up buildings in Braddock
Levi's thinks Braddock, PA is the place to be
Levi's thinks Braddock, PA is the place to be
The "No Littering" signs in Braddock seemed out of place
Wonder if the building owners were fined $300 for littering?
The "No Dumping" signs in Braddock were a little bit ironic...
The "No Dumping" signs there were a little bit ironic...
Welcome to Historic Braddock
Welcome to Historic Braddock
Levi's jeans proudly made in Mexico, not Braddock, PA
Levi's jeans proudly made in Mexico, not Braddock, PA
Levi's jeans proudly made in some 'Stan place, not Braddock, PA
Levi's jeans proudly made in some 'Stan place, not Braddock, PA
Levi's jeans proudly made in Mexico, not Braddock, PA
Levi's jeans proudly made in Mexico, not Braddock, PA
"We Are All Workers" on the Levi's site
"We Are All Workers" on the Levi's site
"We Are All Workers" billboard in Oakland
"We Are All Workers" billboard in Oakland
"Everybody's Work is Equally Important" Levi's Braddock, PA billboard in Oakland
"Everybody's Work is Equally Important" billboard in Oakland

Will you be wearing foreign made Levi’s 501 jeans on your next picnic trip to Braddock, PA?

  • Greg Tha Greek

    Damn I must never get off campus or something. Never knew Pittsburgh had areas that looked that crazy.

  • Karmic Farmer

    Nicely presented

  • Brett Banditelli

    For the record, the owners of Club 804 are great. They held a fundraising event for us.

    Well done Team BoringPGH. I think you recognize the problems here. $1mil for a farm and to help a church is nice, but Braddock and several other mon valley communities need infrastructure development and jobs the most.

  • Chuck Borowitz

    I’m typing this from my iPad.

  • Brett Banditelli

    Comment from facebook I want to comment on:

    “I feel bad for sounding negative–anything is better than nothing at all, and out of the whole country they discovered Braddock and it may mean other opportunities for Braddock as well. The black and white photos are really awesome, and at least they didn’t use blight as the background, but focused on the people.”

    America already knows about Braddock. There’s no real call to action. Right now there’s an unfunded $29mil development plan for the hospital by the county- that has to get funded. I don’t give a shit who takes credit for it, but it has to get funded.

    Our opinion is it has to include emergency care because we believe the poor deserve medical care, John doesn’t give a shit about that. He can at least pretend.

    • braddockisawesome

      that’s an ugly accusation to make. why don’t you move to braddock and solve all our problems?! :-)

      • BraddockIsNotSoAwesome

        Trust me, I was there the other day and it’s far from awesome.

        Why else would Hollywood be using it as a setting for a depressed slum in the movie One For The Money?

      • Dont know shit

        You really don’t know what you are talking about.

        Johns actions are 100% selfless. UPMC was closing that building no matter who attempted to stop them. Although there are still people out there that think there is some chance of it opening again, they are delusional.

        Braddock is not so awesome most likely grew up in the PGH area and has an “idea” about what Braddock is (majority of ppl in the pgh area are scared of where I live) Do you know any of the 30 plus people from around the country that have moved to Braddock in the past 2 years? No? Have any clue who they are or what they are doing? No? Any idea about the events that take place in Braddock? No?

        You really don’t know Braddock and most likely your not the caliber of person we would want in our presence.

        -Braddock Resident

      • Making it in Braddock

        Braddock is on hard times, yes. However it is not nearly impossible to make it there. I worked at the Hospital until i was transfered the day before it closed. John did fight to try to keep it open and when it was clear it couldnt, he fought to get it replaced with something meaningful. It isnt going to be easy, and it will take time, but I do believe that the project they have in place (urgent care, community education center, elderly living, and doctor’s offices) will come to pass. John has been anything if not tenacious. Those writing us off, come live in our houses, those that havent, thank you and please continue with the support.

    • tbrd

      Um, Brett, regarding your last couple sentences. I created a report a while back at John’s request outlining the need for an urgent care center in Braddock, the facilities requirements for one, and potential locations within Braddock.

      No pretending. We’ve actually been working on this.

  • Corey Washington

    After chekin out some of the marketing and branding sites that covered these ads your last paragraph is very fitting. Well done.

  • Brett Banditelli

    Would anyone be up for a meetup at Club 804? Maybe in August or something. I think it would be great to have an official “snarky blogger” meetup in Braddock!

  • Thomas Doubter

    Something rotten in Denmark. Those people are all residents of Braddock? Or just residents while they shot the commercial? I pass through Braddock all the time and never see so many young people could be models. Also that big church stain glass…NOT made in Braddock! Braddock has a business that makes stain glass windows for churches. New Guild. Been in Braddock for years. Their on the web and I know them some. And they did not make that stain glass. Come on, Levis! You take a bunch of models to Braddock to pose as local people and then don’t even hire local people to fix up there own community?

    • Brett Banditelli

      Nah the models are from Braddock- they might not have grown up there but they live there right now. Is the church in question in North Braddock like 5 feet from Braddock isn’t it? It’s not the same church Tranzformazium is redoing is it? Cuz they’re reconstructing that and he’s reconstructing this one. I half-assumed it was the one across from the library which is in Braddock.

      I hadn’t even thought about the New Guild. I went to their yearly opening and loved their stuff but it’s out of my price range. I didn’t know they made stained glass.

      • Brett Banditelli

        Gah, deconstructing. I made like 5 errors in this paragraph. You people know what I’m saying lol.

      • braddockisawesome

        newguild does not work with stained glass. they are amazing! but they don’t do stained glass.

      • Man this bugs me

        New Guild has nothing to do with any of this; they don’t appear in the ads, they didn’t get any money from Levis for anything and they aren’t featured in this documentary Levis made. But, for the record, New Guild DOES do stained glass. They are experts in just about every art form needed to build large scale religious art pieces. Painting, fresco, tiling, glasswork, stamped metals, casting, woodworking. I have personally seen their stained glass work and it, like Braddock, is awesome!

      • Braddock Transplant

        It is the church across the street from the library.

  • lk

    This made me sort of uneasy, having visited and reported on the people in Braddock who are the planters, builders, artists, “pioneers”, etc that Levi’s is using to sell jeans:
    But who I am I to judge, having been born in Eastern PA?
    I agree, where is the new Made in USA Levi’s factory?! But the Mayor and some of the people of Braddock obviously saw this as a potentially good thing – the PR, letting the public know about what is happening there – past and future. I sincerely hope the company, at the very least, made a sizable donation that helped make some progress visible.

  • Ginger Strand

    As the writer of the Orion piece on Braddock posted already, I find the Levi’s campaign venal and the Facebook version of it downright insulting–pretend “dialogue” that doesn’t actually even allow dialogue at all, let alone stimulating thought. What’s interesting about Braddock is what the people there are trying to accomplish–without the help of multinationals, imagineering, temples to commerce or shameless marketing tricked out to look like controversy.

  • K-Mo

    Very nicely presented. What a sad place. These are the times I wish I had the resources to do my part in helping revitalize that town. What ever happened to the highway they’re supposed to build through Braddock?

    • Boring Pittsburgh

      Thanks K-Mo!

    • Brett Banditelli

      It was unofficially cancelled. Although it’s still in the works no one sees it happening. Especially with the amount of media the mayor has gotten Braddock no politician in their right mind would fund it. The Mon Valley Expressway had more to do with the exodus from the town than the closure of the steel mills. Remember, the town started to get hurt when the middle class started to leave not when the mill’s closed.

      • Braddockresident

        Middle class left because the mills left.

        the one mill that is open is area wise twice the size of braddock and employs a wapping 450 people

    • manyhandsmakelitework

      I went to Braddock several times with Slippery Rock University (as a student, of course) and there is SO much work to be done. If you have lots of friends and a free Saturday or weekend, you have the resources to go help!! The people of Braddock are so thankful for us being there (despite the few ungrateful residents) and helping out. E-mail the library, I’m sure they could find something for you to do! They also need help at the urban farm this summer and Transformazium’s church they bought needs work done too. If you just email someone, anyone, I’m sure they’ll get your email to where it needs to be and they’ll be welcoming you with open arms.

      Good Luck! If you need any contact info, please email me at and I’ll help you as much as I can!

  • michelle

    If you actually paid attention you would realize that Levi’s never said they were opening a Jean company in Braddock, Pa. They are helping the library, community center and urban farms. If you have been to any part of this city you would see that there are littering signs and no dumping signs everywhere, not just Braddock. It hurts to see that you think Levi’s is hurting Braddock. They are helping, it might not bring a ton of jobs but at least they are doing something. What are you doing for the people and community of braddock?

    • Chuck Borowitz

      I bet you typed that from your iPad didn’t you?

    • Karmic Farmer

      You sound like you read the first word of each paragraph. This was well thought out and interesting in comparison to the other writers who didn’t have a chance to see Braddock before writing.

      Boring Pittsburgh never said that Levi’s claimed to open a factory in Braddock. My interpretation was that Boring Pittsburgh was exaggerating to make a point that the others might not have thought of. The money from Levi’s is better than nothing (and if I were mayor I wouldn’t turn it down either), but it doesn’t change the fact that with the $1 million, comes a form of “exploitation” that is somewhat new… using a devastated town as the basis of an ad campaign when the jeans company itself has never had anything to do with that town. It is mind boggling.

      I don’t think anyone here will say that $1 million is “hurting” Braddock. And I didn’t gather any of that from this piece that was imo very nicely presented.

      • Boring Pittsburgh

        Karmic Farmer – Thank you for the nice words about our article. You were spot on with your interpretation. Glad to have your input ;)

    • Brett Banditelli

      Besides a $29mil investment plan not much.

    • braddockisawesome

      beautifully said, michele. it’s unfortunate that the folks contributing to this -don’t live in braddock
      -contribute absolutely nothing to braddock

  • michelle

    No. I didn’t. I don’t own a computer and grew up in Braddock, but thanks.

  • Jake D

    I saw that huge sign the other day on the way to the parkway in Oakland and it really does make you think they have something set up in Braddock. I think there are some thought provoking points here like that the jeans aren’t even made in the states. That’s on the verge of being false advertising. I would have more respect for their efforts if they 1) created jobs in Braddock or 2) gave Braddock the money and wrote Cancun, Mexico on the ads.

  • Regina S

    My cousin and friends are on that billboard!!! and my dad and pap are in one of the videos!

  • david banner

    aint no one in the hood wearing levis jeans

    • Regina S

      i live in Braddock and there actually are a lot of people that wear Levi’s.

  • Mikey

    Thanks for posting this. I get annoyed at how every July–Levis feels the need to launch yet another rash of pro-Americana advertising, but they are a mere shell of the American company they once were, if that. Great job with this!

  • Roger P

    Time marches on. Let it go. Braddock had its time and that time is over. It’s called change people. Not sure why people hold onto what is dead. In another ten, thirty years something else will be there. But it will never be the Braddock that was because what was is gone. Steel. Gone. Someone said, “there is nothing here to revitalize.” True. Adapt change and grow. Don’t look for Levis or anybody to bring back what is dead and will stay dead. So many great areas are prospering in and around Pittsburgh. Look at that.

    • Robin Clarke

      Roger, this is really offensive. A lot of th eposts on here are actually, Brett excluded. I guess what bothers me is the extremely flippant way you all are talking about a community of human beings. “Let it go?” Change? Adapt? How does one “adapt” to abject poverty and the failure of our elected representative to do anything to change the economic situation? Let it go? I agree that it is foolish to seek to bring back the past. One of the things like in the Levi’s short video pieces is when an older gentlemen from Braddock who has a prized bird coop says it will never be what it was. That kind of honesty gives the lie to Levi’s propaganda that there is any work at all IN Braddock. But your response is really crude and cruel.

      • Transformaze78

        “failure of our elected representative to do anything to change our economic situation?”. Are you referring to Mayor Fetterman? Then it’s obvious you don’t live in town. Those like myself, THAT DO, continue to see a daily improving community that NO ONE cared about before he came to town. I find your post extremely offensive. As well as Brett’s and several others. The building next door to mine is for sale. Let’s be neighbors Robin? I look forward to you changing our “economic situation” !

    • Born in Braddock

      So True. It is sad that Model Cities ripped the community in the 70’s instead of helping to rebuild it. The politicians and the corrup model cities leaders are alot to blame for this. Lets rebuild the Middle East and let Bradd fall to peases, There is something wrong with that statement. Braddock was a great town with the Best people you could find when I was growing up. It will never be the same. Sad but true.

  • Bill Watson

    Pittsburgh is not one town, but a collection of communities, each with it’s own story. For so many, unfortunately, it’s a story like that of Braddock’s. I was born and spent my early years in Elizabeth – another town literally crumbling before our eyes. I turned down a job to work at the McKeesport steel mill and took my CMU degree west and never looked back. That is, until nearing retirement, I noticed Silicon Valley companies moving good engineering jobs to India and China. Manufacturing is dead in the USA and now the silent exodus of our technical jobs is underway. What is my point? Braddock’s decline is plain to see if we choose to open our eyes to it. The Levis commercial does that. But the seeds of a “Braddock” decline have been sown across the country in communities that still look like the early Braddock. Like the Bruce Springsteen song,”My Hometown,” the line: “those jobs ain’t comin’ back” is being played out in this current recession. My hope is that we can raise the national awareness to a level that we can stop this trend before it’s too late. Agree or disagree? My thanks to the folks who put this site together; it’s a start.

  • JCHite

    Great article, it’s all hyped up crap. I lived in Rankin, which is a spit away from Braddock. It is going to turn into a community of rich kids who want to pretend to be poor because they think it’s cool. Commercials like this will only aggravate such issues. Good for Levi’s for donating to the community to develop some of the projects happening there, but what the town needs is people who will come and start businesses which will stimulate the economy, not college kids who want to buy a cheap house and pretend that they have it rough.

    • Braddockresident

      Guess more poor is better than rich college? right?

      • know your enemies

        You love your community? If you knew anything about gentrification, you wouldn’t need to ask.

        People need to know when they’re being exploited, you should be thanking this blog for bringing this discussion if you really think Braddock is awesome. Levi’s is trading off the awesomeness of Braddock, stands to make billions more pimping an “all American” image that’s really been bought (in their minds) from your awesome town for a bargain at one million dollars. Braddock may need the cash, and i can’t hate on the mayor, but those corporate bastards don’t deserve such a bargain and surly don’t deserve anyone’s gratitude. If anything, Braddock is doing THEM a favor.

  • BalpAttaill

    It is an amusing piece

  • Lottie J

    right on! this hit the nail on the head.

    so jeb left shadyside and moved to braddock, huh? good for him. we need more tax payers after the upmc fiasco.

    look, i don’t fault mayor john for anything. he’s doing what he can do. but media does give him problems with his actual constituents here, which is why we don’t have any billboards! well, maybe we do by now. i haven’t been down there for a minute. i’ll have to go check. the reason is because the old people here would rather remember the good old days than change anything. it’s a tightrope act for him.

    i heard about this from friends in atlanta. they saw a movie and the ad was played before the movie. and what’s funny is my friend transports rescue dogs from atlanta to the north side weekly, and when he comes to visit he says how braddock is the most depressing place he’s ever seen. and i laugh, because i like it here, and he says he’s gonna put us in the dog van and rescue us. and so he goes to see a movie and he’s like, i was watching the most depressing ad ever, and then it was braddock! so i had to go look it up.

    it’s not that bad here. but what does upset me is we don’t have enough money to finish tearing down these dilapidated houses, but a big, beautiful building like upmc is going to be demolished. the whole town could move into that building, lol.

  • Stan Horton

    Great article, Some good views. Born in Braddock Hospital 1959 and moved to Swissvale 3 miles away, I always loved Braddock. If people want to Help this Community than do so, If not, don’t stand in the way and point finger, We all have free WILL. I don’t have the resources to help Braddock, but I PRAY someone can. I visited Braddock in June 2010 after seeing my Mother is Swissvale, Now I want fly from Colorado Springs and help. People of Braddock and Supporters Keep praying, GOD has not forgotten you.

    • Admin

      Thank you for saying we wrote a great article with good views. It’s nice to have a visitor to our site all the way from Colorado Springs.

    • Braddockresident

      Good post

  • http://Facebook Deb

    I have lived in Braddock all my life I am 52 Years of age .I did not grow up in the town that the elders boast about there were few stores and lots of clutter in the past 5 years i have seen a positive change since our new mayor.More activities going on for the children.Cleaning up of lots etc.It was a shame that upmc decided to leave.We just need someone to come and give our town a chance.a well known company etc.How about past residents who have moved on it would be great to give back to the old town. We are all Gods children.

  • http://steelbelt Kippy

    What is CNN doing today? Are they promoting a reincarnation of Braddock or advertising for Levi’s?

    • Admin

      Is CNN in Braddock today or did you see it on TV? Maybe they are talking about the movie filming in Braddock Hospital.

      • Admin

        Kippy, we confirmed that they were shooting scenes with Katherine Heigl (in “One For the Money”) at Braddock Hospital. That probably explains why CNN was there. You can find more info about the filming of this movie and others by searching our site.

        That’s great news for the town of Braddock. They are even going to be credited at the end of the movie!

  • Mayor John

    this is a remarkably sad thread. it seems as if the people who do the least, have the most misplaced negativity..

    and, *praising* club 804?? really? drugs, guns, and litter is their actual contribution to braddock. (so, ginger, club 804 is what’s actually “venal”) a bullet from one of 804’s multiple shoot out’s from spring of ’08 shattered a window in the same community center that levi’s now is fixing up for braddock’s elderly and children.

    it was *this* same drama from that slime den lead directly to a major shootout which left one man dead (and was braddock’s last homicide) in may of ’08. but hey, they’re “great” guys right? -right, brett?

    but, fortunately, we’ve gone 27 months now without any loss of life thanks to tweeting and blogging… no, wait- i mean, hard work.

    brett, if sloth and cowardice were taxable, you’d be in more hot water with the IRS than chris tucker.. stop stalking and talking and start doing.

    when you really get right down to it, it’s pretty easy both to find me and come to town and make braddock a better place or share your thoughts on making all of us better. since this is a local site, you already came to take pictures, why not stay awhile and show us the true way?

    • Admin

      The Mayor of Braddock commented on BPGH! Damn it feels good to be a gangster.

      • Karmic Farmer

        Why is the Mayor of a town like Braddock commenting on blogs in the middle of the workday? Shouldn’t he be out Mayoring or something?

      • Mayor John

        hey chief, i’m on vacation working on an ironic and kooky on-line moniker that i can hide behind. til then, it’s just me. after you and others are done trying to be spiffy, sly and witty in reply, i’ll still be here waiting for your official ideas delegation to come and visit..til then, keep up the no work.

      • Admin

        Hey guys, we appreciate the participation, but let’s try to keep it troll-free. That means you too Mister Mayor ;)

    • Brett Banditelli

      So I take it you aren’t coming to Primanti’s tonight?

      • Robin Clarke

        Mayor John,

        Just to clear something up, and I say this with no irony or spite to you, but simply to make sure everyone knows the truth: Brett does a ton of unpaid labor–has been devoting huge amounts of his time for free in order to fight the hospital closing and to try to help Braddock assemble a grass roots effort to fight, among other things, the rampant and bold-faced deception by Pittsburgh officials and the county executive, that has gone on, perhaps behind your back, in UPMC’s attempt at swift flight.

      • Braddockresident

        Attempting to stop UPMC from closing Braddock is a waste of time, you are delusional if you believe 30 people waving signs was going to make a difference. Applying your effort to the rebuilding and use of the space after the closing is realistic. Where is now?

    • sal quagliata

      Mayor John, could you please tell me what happened to Bell’s mkt? I have been following your work since your appearance on Real Time. I think you are a good man, and I would like to help if I could.
      sal quagliata, gilbert arizona

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  • Man this bugs me

    The main reason this Levis campaign bugs me is that for all the talk about changing Braddock from the falling down mess its become, the one and only reason Levis is using it in their ads is because they like the way it looks right now. They like falling down messy Braddock. Episode 4 of this documentary shows an artist – who does not live in the community – talking about how she’d stop visiting Braddock if the “change initiatives” succeed. Let’s be frank here. Braddock has four times the national average of childhood asthma rates. This artist, who digs the rust and mildew and decay, would stop loving Braddock if the childhood asthma rates decrease! That’s what’s wrong with this campaign! The artists and tourists who visit to be inspired by the ruins don’t seem to get that those same ruins are ravaging the residents’ immune and respiratory systems.

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  • W

    I just sent an email to Levi’s admonishing them for this senseless campaign. I told them it is equivalent to flipping off their last few American customers. I encourage all to do the same. W in Illinois.

    • Admin

      You can post your letter here for others to read if you wish.

  • Aly

    I dont think Levi’s ever claimed to be making there jeans in Braddock. I am not a fan of Corporations exploiting cheap labor in struggling countries. …but in this case I think you should be careful with the criticisms. It seems to me like the members of this community are trying to revitalize their neighborhood through hard work and reinvention. I think if a corporation can use its power to profile something inspiring like an uphill battle for the greater good of a struggling community rather than another ad with an anorexic model being portrayed as a sex symbol; shouldnt we embrace that change?

    • Jake D

      These writers never said that Levi’s said they were making jeans in Braddock. But the campaign does make it look like their jeans are based out of Braddock, PA. At least that’s what thought when I saw the signs and that’s also what prompted me to search it and I found this site and read about the truth behind the ads. You have obviously made up your mind to go against the writers and there’s no convincing you if you can’t see through the bullshit on your own. -Jake

  • Aly

    Also, why are those signs ironic?? I mean clearly they have their work cut out for them and rebuilding that area will be a challenge; but it just seems like you are making fun of them. I find this whole post to be misdirected and mean.

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  • sam

    Levis is awesome! I hear they are sending all their store managers there soon to help out in the community.

  • CloMF

    It’s interesting and insightful reading these posts. I actually loved the Levi’s campaign (never reading that they were bringing a factory to town). It is what it is – slick marketing to sell more jeans, and to pull at the heartstrings while doing so. No surprise there. But, if it *does* pull at the heartstrings, it serves a purpose, even if you’d want to see them do more. The campaign actually prompted me to take a strong look at Braddock, a town that I had never heard of, and at what I might be able to do over time to contribute in some small way to the changes that are needed there. And I can’t be the only one. What those well-crafted images and voice-overs cause to germinate in people’s minds is what matters. People may hear opportunity knocking and that propels movement.

    I don’t think it’s any secret that corporations are out to make money – and they can be underhanded about it, yes – but, a million dollars dedicated to some wonderful and sustainable projects in any distressed community is a huge step-up, and if the Levi’s ads put that energy on the map, lead people to google searches, and real estate searches, and forums like this one, that is a good beginning.
    It builds that momentum- so when Levi’s is gone, another opportunistic and PR-minded corporation comes in and donates another million…not because they’re selfless, but because they can.
    And, in turn, your community gets another playground, and some school funding, and so on and so on. They need that. It works.

    It’s obvious that the town needs jobs, needs money, needs more than it has (and it’s certainly not the only one), but instead of focusing on the failings, which don’t seem to be any secret, maybe we should all be thinking about what positivity can come from something flawed, and how we can and should build on that moving forward?

    As for the Mayor, you’re not doing a job making less than $200.00 a month unless it means something to you, means close to everything to you. What he’s taken on is huge, and from all that I have read and learned so far, there are the “seeds of change” taking root in his work and in the efforts of many members of that community.

    I personally can’t wait to spend some time there and I’ve told him as much.

    Even if the ads only serve to offer hope to its residents, if it makes them feel less invisible, if it gives them any sense of enjoyment or purpose, then let’s let Levi’s do what it does, while we “go forth” and learn and do.

    I don’t know…just seems easier than all the negativity we spew so readily. The posts on here seem to come from some incredibly intelligent people with great passion. I get excited thinking about all that could happen if that passion were focused on the good works to be done.

    • Admin

      We appreciate your comment and the nice things you said about us. Thanks ;)

    • Loretta

      Well stated. I never heard of Braddock until I saw the Levi’s ad; after watching several variations of it, I was inspired to check out Braddock on the internet and what I found intrigued me. Like you, I now want to check out Braddock. Think of the ripple effect, how many more viewers of the Levi’s campaign are going to be intrigued, inspired and motivated? Seems to me, this also is what Braddock needs.

      “I get excited thinking about all that could happen if that passion were focused on the good works to be done.”

      Couldn’t agree more.

      My thoughts are with you Braddock, and maybe someday soon, my willing hands.

  • Brandon

    The Mayor of Braddock, John Fetterman, was on Colbert Report talking about Braddock and Levi’s.

    • http://meganmollymagen megan-molly

      I have been reading all the posts on this and was just thinking about that mayor John should go on Colbert or John Stewart…awesome!
      I had first heard of Braddock Pa in some article…can’t remember what in…I do remember thinking about how awesome it was for John Fetterman to step up and try to breathe some life into this town. He could take his time and energy to places that are well on their way instead. Say for instance, Austin TX, where I was living at the time I read the article.
      Levi’s may not be truthful in their implied intention of the ad….but a least it had started conversations and gave some money to the community.
      A example of the power of advertising, be it truthful or not,… I had forgotten about that ad I read, saw the Levi’s ad on t.v. and instantly googled Braddock when I saw it….poof, this site came up!
      Now I live in N.W. Pa trying to get my elders situated into assisted living and wondering where to go from here. In Austin I worked a lot with grass roots organizations. Though I am not one of the people with money that needs to be looking at Braddock, I am at least one more person to lobby, think of and discuss it.
      Conciousness creates reality! Keep thinking and doing!

  • Alex

    here is the follow up interview John Getterman the mayor of Braddock did a few weeks ago… He speaks out about the Levi deal. if you know anything about what he has done for Braddock, you would trust anything he is doing for his community.

  • popp

    levis is effing kidding me with that token bout factory in braddock with jobs for americans…/?bullshit ad very misleading

  • http://Facebook Hoot

    Unless you were born and lived in Braddock during its heyday and seen the decline happen right before your eyes, keep your damn comments to yourself cause you don’t have a clue what you talking about.

    • Braddockresident

      Its not the born and lived here people that will recreate Braddock.

  • Lisa Simeone

    I was doing research on Braddock and the Levi’s campaign and came across your site. Thank you for providing so much information and great photos. I’ve linked to you here:

    Glamour Girl – Lisa Simeone
    Of Blue Jeans and Blue Collars: Levi’s and Braddock, Pa

  • Lisa Simeone

    In doing research on Braddock and the Levi’s campaign, I came across your site. Thank you for all the information and photos you’ve provided. I linked to you at the magazine and blog where I write:

  • clintguy

    Levis-sponsored film is on IFC right now. The catastrophic decline of Industrial America is on display here and in countless other cities along rivers and canals throughout the Northeast and Midwest states.

  • aprochek

    I brought a friend up with me from Houston to roam around Pittsburgh for a week and I was shocked, shocked at what I found after leaving the city nearly 20 years ago. Bars and clubs everywhere with impossibly good looking people (OK, it was the first weekend back for the colleges). Rail trails all over the place. Brownfields renewed; buildings and bridges repurposed. Even the food and Iron City was pretty damn good. Do you have any idea how bad that swill was when I lived there? We were specifically on an “urban decay” tour and found plenty of artifacts (go see the Carrie furnaces. Now! before they rust away), but instead of depressing, they were captivating, like ruins in Rome except, to me, far more interesting. Personally, I’d take the old Iron City Brewery over the Pantheon any day. My friend was depressed about the loss of the iron and steel jobs, but I tried to describe in vivid terms what a sh*thole PGH was when those industries were here. My friend couldn’t get over all the mom and pop stores all over the place (Houston is pretty much a chain store city). And all the areas that were abandoned when I left were mostly straightened up and looking pretty good. Penn Ave between Lawrenceville and Bloomfield is hopping. Liberty Ave in Bloomfield has a bunch of bars and a punk club. East Liberty looked like something I might not be afraid of anymore. Even Homestead is getting storefronts back (a couple friends have a mid-century antique store there). The only place I visited that still is hasn’t gone anywhere… Braddock. I hope it can come back. I expect it will. It will be different than it was, but better. It would help if politicians would stop giving corporations tremendous tax incentives to bulldoze virgin fields out in the middle of nowhere to set up business parks (I am looking at you, Upper Burrell) and focus them into areas that already have existing infrastructure.

    Ultimately, I came with a friend who had traveled the world and seen just about everything…and he had never seen anything like Pittsburgh. He was very depressed to go back to Houston (his hometown by the way) and can’t wait to come back. If there are two people in the world who are not interested in hearing a bunch of whining about how boring Pittsburgh is, its us. I could spend the rest of my life studying the damn place. If only I could find a job there (ah, that’s the rub).

  • SFH

    I will buy Levi’s jeans forever IF Levi’s makes some in Braddock!


  • Rorison Meadows

    Most of what everyone in the US owns is made in another country. It has to be that way because the typical American worker wants their employer to serve everything to them on a silver platter and doesn’t want to earn it the right way.

  • lottie jump

    wow, you’re an ass. the truth is that american employers want slave labor, like the immigrant underclass that they will fight tooth and nail to legalize, and the sweat shops they set up in foreign countries, where they can exploit women and children. the truth is that american employers got where they are because of their daddies usually, not their own hard work. college doesn’t count. getting drunk 5 nights a week isn’t work. and i have a master’s degree, so suck it. the employers who did get where they are by their own hard work, would never in a million years say what you just said. so case in point.

  • BPGH

    If you would like to know more about Braddock, Pa then read the novel, Out of This Furnace by Thoman Bell … 1942 and out of print.

  • Jim Spangler

    I grew up in the years of braddock at its greatest, I was there this year sept 2010 and was very sad as to its outcome. I saw the ad on TV and thought “Yes” there is the possibility of ” life in the community”. Our countries manufacturers have moved jobs from sooooo many sectors of our lives into other countries for cheaper labor and who is to blame??? We all are for wanting cheap not quality. It is my opinion that no one and I mean no one has reinvested time or money back into any community. This is a national problem and the only way to combat it is to not buy their products. Look at Hershey Pa. the willy wonka factory is now in mexico…. I no longer buy Hershey products… look around see if the product is made in the USA if it is not ……do without it. Levi I am embarrased at you for not putting a factory where your mouth is.

  • cemetarywasmyplayground

    I grew up in Braddock in the 70’s and my sisters and I went to St. Brendans church and school. (the church with the steeple that you see in the video) I now live in Los Angeles and tell my children how grateful I am to have grown up in a community like Braddock. A friend told me about what is happening there which prompted me to look into it. There are people who are trying to make a change for the betterment. It wont be easy but I support it and am excited. I can understand how some people would be bugged by the Levi’s campaign but why not look at it in a positive way…at least there are some people willing to try and make a change.
    about it.

  • http://@Cris_cfpgh cris

    As a Pittsburgher who grew up in a town like Braddock I loved the aesthetic presentation of a landscape I know and love. Watching these ads makes me happy to be one of the folks who hasn’t left. Cheers to the mayor and others who made this happen. I think it’s crazy to hope for a large company to open a factory any where for good PR. Unless we find a way to make it profitable for them, corporations aren’t going to just swoop in and save us.

  • jean

    Gallantly presented.

  • Kudos People of Braddock

    As a fan of and fellow urban renewalist I give the folks of Braddock props for their efforts. Two years ago I took on the project of purchasing, renovating, and reinventing a property which most considered the biggest eyesore in my small town. Though, not quite the scale of Braddock I faced a lot of the same issues, lack of jobs, limited retail, and few opportunities – I can now say anything is possible with vision and hard work.

    Regardless of whether Levis produces jeans in Braddock, their corporate sponsorship makes a difference in achieving goals the residents have set for reinventing their community. It was an incredibly smart idea to seek corporate sponsors for their project and I hope more companies and charitable organizations will continue to do the same.

    What I see is needed most is skilled laborers to rebuild the new Braddock community. With the down turn in new construction, many small time carpenters are out of work – some sort of “work for housing program” might just be what this town needs to get things rolling (of course funding to bank roll it too, but with a new work force, money will come).

    I look forward to seeing what progresses in the future for this community, best of luck to the mayor and his citizens!

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  • ernest scott

    Those who shed a tear for Braddock are obliviously unaware of the state of West Virginia. If you want to see a real sob story, check out Matewan, WV, or Williamson, WV. Also, look at any mining town throughout eastern Kentucky, West Virginia, or Pennsylvania. Towns like this exist all throughout the U.S. Thumbs up to the Levi’s Public Affairs for making this little town seem so damn charming.

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  • Bethyb123

    This is coming from a girl that grew up in her grandmother’s house in N Versailles… just down the road from Braddock. It really is difficult for me to see the area get more and more run down every time I come home, truly. Less businesses, people moving away. I agree partially with the comments that were made by Roger P because, after all, progress is really implicated by change. I look at my family for instance, who owned a bar on Lincoln Hwy. My father, nor my aunt or uncle chose to take on the family business and with my grandparents so went the bar business. And even myself, I don’t even live in the US anymore and I actually live in a country where most people are in a worse econmic situation than Braddock. Why? Because I can take my what I have learned (opportunities granted to me by the hard work of my immigrant great-grandparents) create businesses and give jobs and volunteer my time at the same time and I’m able to do that by low-governmental annoyance and no income tax. The place where I live 15 years ago had NOTHING (not an impoverished community, more like 100 people without jobs living there in wooden shacks) and by more and more farmers and farming-associated business moving in has created a need for grocery stores, clothing stores, and skilled workers. We have been able to reinvest money into the schools (something that corrupt government has completely neglected to do) and have complete classrooms with access to the internet as well. What I believe that these type of communities need to do is lower business taxes and make a favorable climate for business where the advantages for doing business there trump any other place. Government is not the answer, just as people have stated that aside from the mayor (from what I have read seems truly interested and invested in the community), but the board has neglected to do anything to help the community. Probably because the only thing he has to worry about is getting elected, but during his tenure he can kick back and make his paycheck and just blame the problems on change and not ever have to worry about a “performance evaluation”.

    I would love one day to come back and work here and live here because, no matter where we come from will always be home to us, but really, come on government, let us work leave us alone, quit putting the mangifying glass over all businesses and let them create jobs and give people the dignity it is to have a job and being good at what you do.

  • Bethyb123

    Oh, and I do agree Levi’s donating money is better than nothing, but if they really believe in Braddock they should put their money where their mouth is; however it probably cheaper to do business by producing the jeans in Mexico, Turkmenistan or where ever by some combination of taxes, wages, or who knows. Now, I, for instance would pay a little more for jeans produced in Braddock, but probably Levi’s did some study that showed that the most optimal selling price for their jeans is X and they can only achieve that price by outsourcing work. I know it seems shitty, but if no one buys their jeans then that means no Levi’s. But still, I saw that ad and I really did think that they were doing something at Braddock, and that’s probably what they wanted me to think… hmmm…

  • JG

    I was born in Pittsburgh in the 60’s. I have many good memories even though I no longer live there. I’m glad Levi’s is donating the money, but don’t know if I can buy jeans made in another country. To me charity starts at home. I will always have “Pittsburgh Pride” no matter where I call home.

  • Terrance B

    After seeing several tv spots about the unique and visionary Mayor of Braddock, we were inspired to visit Braddock from Virginia to see for ourselves what was happening in the town.

    I feel that the majority of the negative posts in this stream really miss the point. Businesses are are in the business of making money for their owners. Of course they should do it in a responsible manner but no one is “owed” anything. It has to be earned.

    Give some credit to the Mayor. He could easily be investing his time and effort somewhere else with a lot fewer obstacles.

    The current and new residents of Braddock will determine it’s future. I hope that the town, it’s citizens and it’s champions like Mayor Fetterman are wildly successful. For the naysayers, put up or shut up.

  • Margarida Maria Araujo Bispo

    Oi, não sei se vocês irão entender o que escrevi mas gostaria muito de dar parabéns ao povo de Braddock, pois um prefeito como esse é muito difícil de encontrar, ser cidadão não é para todos!

  • Santa Clause

    You can’t deny that Braddock doesn’t need the money, but that’s not really the argument I read here. I agree with the premise that those ads are misleading and would easily create the idea that jeans are being made in Braddock, PA. Imagine how much different the billboard would be if it said “Made in Mexico among other places” instead of Braddock, PA.

  • ghostfromthepast

    i am one of those people who can remember the old braddock. one of those pictures is my old jr. high school. my family was in the area from the early 20th century. it feels strange saying that because i liked the time period myself. this is not about levi jeans. i figure the town needs the money and the mayor, call him what you want, is at least doing something. old stories about how great the town once was do nothing for it now. when i ride through and see it, i almost want to cry.

    but this is about an idea. feel free to put it down. i say that because i can see we have many intelligent people involved on this blog whose ideas are far superior to mine.

    i wouldn’t know how to get this started but the idea is this. braddock is a very historic place. the high school i attended stood on the very place of one of the largest battles in n. america. how can braddock, like gettysburg, or fort neccesity, or a number of other less important places become a national battlefield or something similar. underneath that cement can still be found treasures. a business could be built around tourism. there are still some stable structures that could be maintained to show the architecture of the late 19th and early 20 centuries, and later. the very first carnegie library.
    now the hard part. many buildings will have to be torn down and the sites cleaned up. somebody mentioned that would cost. many people may have to be moved out. oh i know that comment has people jumping. everyone is screaming bigot, but who says that part of this new community cant be affordable housing. you have the chance to draw up a whole new town anyway you want it to look. perhaps nobody needs to leave. however you don’t want to be the southside whose draw is the bars which brings along with it the drugs. the braddock i grew up in had hundreds of those and it in many cases nurtured a culture of crime, violence, etc. you have riverfront you could work with. who said it had to look like the old braddock. i agree with many of the others. that was a special time and place and people, but it’s gone. it’s just a memory. however, you may be able to use that memory to make money and a new future. remember what pittsburgh once looked like,then look at it now. you go head mayor john.

    as for the rest of the intelligencia. pardon me for offending your highness and for being an old fart. that last sentence was for those who know who i am talking about.

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  • Uranus

    Wonder if this was any of the money they got from Levi’s?

    “Former Braddock manager pleads guilty to embezzling $180,000″

    Read more:

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  • krvd

    Now LEVI’s are doing campaigns in Berlin, although the ads aren’t as misleading as the Braddock campaign was. In agreement with the writers here, the Braddock ad made it look like LEVI’s was bringing jobs to the area or something along those subconscious lines. The Berlin ads are more artistic and trying to connect with people through the creativity in the videos.

    Interesting that a jeans company like LEVI’s cannot continue simply selling jeans in their advertisement campaigns, they have to mask it behind a short film about completely irrelevant topics.

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  • Zoji

    It is sickening to think that most people would consider Levi’s to be one of those ol’ time classic American brand, yet, they are manufactured everywhere but USA. If you are a true American patriot, you should not buy jeans or other products from companies like Levi’s.

  • Pajama Jeans

    Great photos, but the premise of this article seems disingenuous. I never thought Levi’s was opening a factory in Braddock; their ads never said it, and I don’t think they ever had plans to. If you want to knock them for having their stuff made abroad, have at it, but pretending they chose Mexico over Braddock is based in nothing. You seem to go even further by suggesting that they’re allowing Braddock to continue to suffer by making this fake “choice.” And now on Facebook you’re being snarky about the benefit concert they’re throwing, that will raise tons of awareness, along with some money, for the city. So Levi’s used people from Braddock as models, and the town as a backdrop–how much more do they owe Braddock, and why?

    • Boring Pittsburgh

      This article serves the purpose of pointing out the irony of an ad campaign about “work” and “jobs” that manipulatively uses the downtrodden town of Braddock as the setting. A town that experienced the loss of a quarter million jobs, now being used by a large company that sends similar, desperately needed opportunities overseas. It’s laughable.

      What is the concert going to raise awareness about other than the fact they used Braddock in their ads? This article raised more awareness about deceptive marketing, overseas manufacturing, and the pains of Braddock than all of Levi’s ads combined. Thousands of people found this article because after seeing the ads, they thought Levi’s were actually being produced in Braddock, PA.

      Instead of focusing your criticism on a fellow Pittsburgher’s viewpoint, why not direct your critical demeanor at American companies that refuse to produce goods in the United States; refuse to offer Americans anything more than overpriced foreign-made goods; and refuse to create jobs in grossly unemployed towns like Braddock, while at the same time boasting to the world that we are all workers?

      There’s nothing “snarky” about saying this article shined a spotlight on Levi’s and their BS ads. Because it did.

      Levi’s presents Benefit Braddock

      • Boring Pittsburgh

        LOL even the City Paper acknowledges there was something just not right about the campaign:

        Remember how, a year or so ago, there were those weird Levi’s ads with Braddock in them? And it was slightly uncomfortable for all of us?

    • Mean Jean

      @Pajama Jeans – I think your 501’s are on too tight. Loosen up!

      • John Hickey

        I agree with pajama jeans. Levi’s didn’t put made in Braddock on the label. Just to keep the discussion factual when you were writing your reply Made IN USA Levi’s From Fabric produced in the USA were on sale. They are tight they take a while to break in and they cost 178.00 bucks. If you take five minutes off attacking a CORPORATIONs behavior, you can whip out your cash card and put your money were your mouth is.
        Attacking a corporation is pretty easy writing, it can’t defend itself it definitely was out to make a profit….wait imagine that a corporation that wants to profit.

        Wanna affect change? Talk about the great AMERICAN product you just bought and tell other people where to buy it.

  • Ben

    I think this discussion has raised alot of good points. Pointing out flaws in someone or a corporation who is trying to help a community can be negative if it comes with malice. I think alot of constructive points have been made about things Levi’s good be doing better about helping out the community, but let’s face it they are helping out Braddock and there are precious few Pittsburghers that do support it. Most people are afraid to come into Braddock, live in Braddock, and have given up all hope for Braddock. The hope that Levi’s has in Braddock is good Karmic points. The benefit concert is considered a good thing by all of us Braddock residents.

  • Bill McAllister

    I’ve posted two Websites so you can know where I’ve been and where I’m going. My wife, who is a ceramic artist, and I have pared down our lifestyle so that we can live on our retirement income alone. We have done this in order to concentrate our efforts toward the development of our company, Insulastics, Inc.

    I moved away from Pittsburgh in 1961 and did not look back for forty-five years. I had an entertaining and creative career in California for forty of those years, and the balance was spent in an equally creative and idyllic early retirement in England. But then it came time to develop an idea I’d had many years ago, and Pittsburgh returned to my life once more. I did not return to Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh returned to me when I needed it. Some time ago in this chain of comments, an individual using the name, KNOW YOUR ENEMIES, wrote “. . . Braddock is doing THEM a favor.” That absolutely nails our situation. We hope to be able to bring jobs to Braddock, but to be honest with my own selfishness, Braddock gives us more in the form of a pool of tenacious, hard working, survivors who will form the core of a 99% company that will lead the way into this Century and provide a model that the rest of America can learn from. You cannot be afraid of work and still live in Braddock. This community (like old age) ain’t for sissies.

    Our first step was to buy a home in Braddock, and we love it here. As a rule, I usually avoid generalizations, but Pittsburghers are among the friendliest and most helpful to be found anywhere. If there is a flaw to be found, it is that they don’t see how special they, and their city, are. The ethnic diversity of this great river city is evident in the varied neighborhoods spread over the hills of Steel(er) Town, and we can lead the nation out of the Industrial Age. The American people are taking their destiny back. Jan and I are gambling that Historic Braddock is about to begin a whole new chapter in that history. Once again, Braddock will be at the very core of a new era – a time when people take control of their own fate in order to live free and secure.

    Hang in there, Braddock.

    • Boring Pittsburgh

      Thanks for sharing your story here. Best of luck with your ventures in Braddock. Keep us updated!

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  • Lee Anne Kiernan

    I came acrooss this site when I after receiving an email from Levis advertising made in America jeans. Having 5 boys all of whom live in Levis I am always looking for a bargain but being an American I thought what the hey let me do my part and buy at least one ore two pairs and maybe some more at a later date. Imagine my shock when I saw a price of $178.00 a pair.I know that it cost more to manufacture things in the USA but I would like to know just how much really and where exactly are the jeans they are claiming to be made here are made.I want pictures of Americans at work making them and if they can’t produse that then SHAME on them. The pictures of your once vibrant city in it’s current state hurt my heart and I pray that companies wake up stop being greedy and come back to make our country the manufacturing giant it once was. I believe if they are willing they will make large profits eventually we the American people will support those companies but they have to be willing to set fair prices.

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  • Blank0

    Seriously though what the fuck do these ads have to do with Braddock?

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