It is deeply ironic that, as the jeanmaker Levi Strauss & Co was at the absolute zenith of its awareness and popularity among consumers, investors could not own shares in the company.
The year was 1985 and the Essex-born male model, Nick Kamen, was appearing in an advertisement for Levi 501s in which he stripped down to his boxer shorts in a 50s-style launderette to the strains of I Heard It Through The Grapevine.
The advert, generally regarded as one of the most iconic for a fashion brand, was immensely successful.
Unfortunately, for anyone who wanted to buy the shares on the back of the buzz surrounding it, Levi Strauss was taken private that year in a $1.45bn deal.
The company, which had floated on the New York Stock Exchange in 1971 after a century of family ownership, was bought back by descendants of the company’s founder, led by Robert Haas, the great-great-grandnephew of Levi Strauss.
At the time, the deal was the biggest leveraged buyout in US business history, heralding a period of immense profitability for Levi Strauss & Co.
Under the guidance of Mr Haas, who remained chief executive until 1999 and is the company’s chairman emeritus, the company enjoyed a sharp uptick in its sales and profitability.
Now, it is returning to the stock market.
The company confirmed plans today to float on the NYSE and published a proposed price range that would see it valued at between $5.4bn (£4.1bn) and $6.2bn (£4.7bn).
The flotation will crystallise the fortune of some 200 shareholders, mainly members of the Haas family, led by the philanthropist Mimi Haas, widow of Peter Haas, the great-grandnephew of Levi Strauss.
Her existing 16.7% stake makes her the biggest single shareholder.
The big question is how the company fares back in the public markets.
The original flotation in 1971 was an acknowledgement on the part of the family that the business had become too big to be run by it alone.
But one of the major reasons why the family – which retained a near 40% stake after the original IPO – took it private again 14 years later was that members disliked the short-termism involved in being a listed company.
Levi Strauss & Co, whose founder first patented the idea of putting rivets in blue denim workplace garments in 1873, had always been known for its paternalistic attitude to its employees.
It famously refused to lay off workers during the Great Depression in the 1930s – but in 1984, when it was still listed, was forced to cut jobs aggressively after a diversification into other types of fashion backfired.
Going private enabled the company to invest again for the long haul.
Apart from its spectacular advertising success, another big boost to sales and profits came from the Dockers brand, launched in 1988, which attracted back baby boomers who had fallen out of the habit of buying jeans, a launch Mr Haas said at the time would not have been possible had the company remained listed.
So why the return to public markets now?
This is something on which there has been much speculation but on which the family itself has declined to comment.
One theory is that the fashion cycle is starting to turn and that consumers are beginning to switch away from lycra and from “athleisure” clothing and back to denim garments.
Sales of denim jeans in the US rose by 5% during the year to July 2018, and Levi Strauss has been growing its sales by more than that.
So that would make this a propitious time in which to be returning to the market.
Another theory is that, with the decline of department stores as more shoppers buy their clothes online, established fashion brands like Levi Strauss could benefit.
The brand is seen by fashion experts and by Wall Street as being one of the few fashion brands that, like Nike and Adidas, have a big following and could survive the shift to online shipping.
Yet the company still only accounts for around $1 in every $8 spent on denim in the US and so has scope to expand in its core area.
A third theory is that the family wishes to expand in new emerging markets such as India and China and to diversify beyond denim into areas such as coats and footwear, and requires a big injection of capital in order to do so.
More than half of the company’s sales still come from the US and barely a sixth come from Asia – so there is plenty of scope for expansion.
Reports have suggested the company could raise as much as $600m (£456m) in a flotation.
Some of that is likely to go on acquisitions.
Yet the previous experience of investors when Levi Strauss was last listed may deter some from buying shares this time around.
Buying shares in a company because the business in which it is in is currently fashionable means investors can sometimes end up overpaying – while the last attempt by Levi Strauss to diversify, when a listed company, did not go well.
In a market in which the likes of Uber and Slack will also be looking to float, Levi Strauss & Co is going to have to offer compelling value to would-be backers, even if some customers will find the opportunity to buy shares in their favourite jeans manufacturer irresistible.
(c) Sky News 2019: Why Levi Strauss & Co is gearing up for a £4.7bn return to stock markets