It seems to me that Levi 501 jeans are going for a tighter/slimmer fit. Feeding to the younger generation. I use to wear only 501 jeans when I was a little younger, but have turned to Wrangler because of durability. I have noticed that 501 jeans don't last near as long as they once did. Several washes and they fade out. The knees of the 501's will wear out quickly.
I know. I used to Only buy 501. The higher price did not matter. It was because of the fit and durability. Maybe they are cost cutting in the making of the jean. If so, they are costing themselves a quality product they once had. And Yes, even Wranglers the last few years have changed. I have some Wranglers I have had for 10 years. Faded, lol, but I have them dry cleaned and heavy starched. Washing machines are not good for jeans.