Lybro Jeans photo shoot
In 1963, a Liverpool jeans company, Lybro Limited, asked if The Beatles would advertise their jeans. The request may either have come through the group’s manager, Brian Epstein – or through their friend at the Cavern Club, DJ Bob Wooler. The advertising agency behind the campaign was Millican Advertising Limited, operating from Liverpool 3.
Some time in spring or early summer 1963, The Beatles were photographed for the advertisement. The photos weren’t used as is, but formed the basis of drawings, which appeared in ads for the jeans.
The Lybro Factory was located in Liverpool on Mount Vernon Road. According to Photographer apprentice Richard Cooper, the photo shoot occurred on the week their third single, “From Me To You” reached number one in the UK. This would turn out to be the only non-musical product endorsement The Beatles agreed to venture in throughout their career, other than their own merchandise.
The advertising campaign was geared towards the Merseyside’s youth as Lybro was competing against Levi’s at the time. Their cheap and thin Empire denim was really no match for the likes of Levi’s.
“Lybro made four different jeans for the band. Paul’s were dog-tooth, John’s striped, Ringo’s were black and George’s royal blue. The band hated the jeans. They were hideous.”
– Tony Bramwell, Fab Gear: The Beatles and Fashion
“The huge importance the band placed on always looking Fab can be gauged from the fact that the Lybro affair was the first and last time The Beatles would ever advertise anyone else’s product.”
– Fab Gear: The Beatles and Fashion by Paolo Hewitt.
This is the main Beatles related item, a rare fold out advertising flyer for Lybro Jeans, featuring the drawings of the Beatles. The leaflet folds out to reveal a black and white image of Paul, John, George and Ringo with a facsimile signature next to each image and a comment on the jeans. When folded out it measures 35cm x 22.5cm (14 inches x 9 inches). The campaign, featuring the folder, at least one full page advertisement and at least one post card, was only in effect during the summer of 1963.
The original photos came to light in 2004, when photographer Richard Cooper unearthed the pictures in an old file and remembered the shoot on which he worked as a young 20-year-old apprentice at a photo studio in Liverpool’s “African Chambers”. The photos formed the basis of drawings used on the final advertisements, whereas the actual photographs remained with the photographer until he brought them to public attention in 2004. Five photographs have been published: one group shot and one photo of each Beatle.
Richard Cooper said: “They look moody but they were very relaxed and amused about the whole business. It was at the shoot that John announced to the other members of the group that they would be number one by the end of the week, a fact they took completely in their stride. They stayed until the pictures were developed and made their comments about each one”.Here are the four individual full figure portraits of the Beatles which the drawings were based on. The photographs were all originally in black & white, but have turned up colourised in later years.
A specialist in fantasy covers produced this colourised version of the photo for one of his imaginary albums:
The Lybro factory was demolished in 1983, as part of the extensive roadworks to improve access to the M62.
Recent colourised interpretation.