VIDEO OF THE WEEK: Kate Moss’ brother stars in 1995 Levi’s ad shot in Prague

Also starring is a Trabant meant to give viewers a sense of Czech realities.

Ioana Caloianu

Written by Ioana Caloianu Published on 29.03.2023 13:08:00 (updated on 29.03.2023) Reading time: 2 minutes

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A handsome young man is racing through the streets of Prague, destination unknown, to the beats of a 90’s tune. Where is he going, and why the rush? Derelict Smíchov and narrow Old Town streets flash by, until the driver reaches a group of hip-looking young people. He stops and gets off his Trabi, showing viewers that he is wearing boxer shorts, but no trousers.

Why is that? The ad flashes Reason No. 007 for owning 501 jeans, while an upbeat voice says: “In Prague, you can trade them for a car.” The merry group squeezes into the tiny car, which drives off into the maze of Prague streets, following a tram.

Two legends in one ad

Shot in 1995, the Levi’s 501 jeans ad featured commercial music from Scott Hardkiss. If the driver who traded his jeans for a Trabant looks familiar, it’s because he is the brother of supermodel Kate Moss, himself a model.

Additionally, the ad was part of series dedicated to the Levi’s 501 jeans, which listed a number of reasons for owning the apparel. The Prague ad, which featured as the seventh reason on the list, was the best of the series according to trade magazine AdAge.

 “The best of the lot is called ‘Prague,’ featuring actor/model/sibling Nick Moss tooling around the city in a forlorn Trabant, the East German ecommunobox famous for balky performance and black exhaust. Moss, the better-fed brother of Kate, does a wonderful job looking both flummoxed and cute before finally emerging from the car wearing an ugly nylon racing jacket and boxer shorts. Why his underwear? Reason No. 007 for owning 501s: ‘In Prague, you can trade them for a car.’”

A sought-after staple of the decadent West

Czech likely needed no persuading that Levi’s jeans were a hot commodity. Blogger Patrik Diamant writes that communist authorities frowned on such western types of clothing, which symbolized the decadence of capitalism.

This, in turn, made them all more popular with the locals. Jeans, however, were hard to find, and cost up to half of the average salary at that time, meaning several hundred Czechoslovak crowns. Still, it is unlikely that the jeans would cost as much as a car in 1995.

Despite Czechoslovakia’s decision to make its own jeans out of imported ready-made pants from the West, the resulting jeans couldn’t hold a candle to genuine Levi’s. Higher-quality jeans arrived on the market with the licensed production of English jeans Lee Cooper, which started in 1981 in Prešov, Slovakia.

As for the Trabant, the car made in Eastern Germany still has devout fans in Europe to this day, including in the Czech Republic, where a Trabant museum opened in 2016. 

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