The pro-American Japanese consumer culture fostered a huge base of collectors of worn-out original American jeans long before the American brands even realised the potential of the market, but around 1987 Levi’s in Japan introduced replicas of vintage Levi’s jeans.
A few years later the commercial “Capital E” line was launched in America but it wasn’t until 1996 that the earliest Levi’s Vintage Clothing concept was introduced along with the early craze for vintage Levi’s jeans in Europe.
Fashion Editor of the Danish lifestyle magazine Euroman, Frederik Andersen, worked in a Levi’s store in London when it happened. To Denimhunters he explains:
“Levi’s Vintage Clothing back then was reserved only for the most enthusiastic customers, who most appreciatively would have to ask the Levi’s Vintage Clothing-savvy employee to get the products from the stock, as they were not even on the shelves.”
Since then, the exclusive denim line has achieved great commercial success and today it has a much broader appeal. The concept is still based on restoring and reproducing the original copies of the classic 501-jeans, and lately, an increased consumer focus on original Levi’s jeanswear items has created demand for t-shirts, shirts, knit and outerwear as well. Every piece in each collection is an exact copy of an original product from the San Francisco archive, which has built up Levi’s over the years.
Since the first Levi’s jeans were created in 1873 the traditional work pants has undergone several changes in both fit and design, mainly based on changes in demand from customers. The development of the jeans is clearly illustrated by the almost 20 different models that the Levi’s Vintage Clothing collection contains.
To denim enthusiasts, Levi’s will probably always hold a special place in our blue indigo hearts. Each and every piece from the Levi’s Vintage Clothing collection clearly tells a chapter of denim history, which may be why these jeans are the preferred second-best alternative, only matched by a pair of unused original Levi’s jeans (as those above, see more pictures here) that are almost impossible to come by.
The charts below are a couple of seasons old, and all the models are not included in the line up any longer, but they illustrate the evolution just the same.
By going into detail with the evolution of the classic 501-jeans, Levi’s Vintage Clothing demonstrates how the company’s products have provided the framework for jeans, as we know them today. You can read more about the company’s earlier history here.