On May 1st 2012 we officially launched our Levi’s Vintage Clothing Wear & Tear Project. To bring the project to a close, this article acts as a guide to denim lovers and Levi’s fans alike in finding the correct fit and the right size of these tricky shrink-to-fits. We’ve had a painter, a motorcycle mechanic, a world ranking badminton player, a Swedish hockey player and the father of a Danish denim enthusiast wear the ‘big five’ of Levi’s Vintage Clothing 501 line up ranging from the 1944 S501XX through the 1966 501. This is what we learned.
11 months ago, denim connoisseur Simon Tuntelder of After the Denim has announced as the proud wearer of the 1966 501XX of our Levi’s Vintage Clothing Wear & Tear Project, but since then Simon lost some weight and the jeans don’t fit him any longer. Instead of not giving them any wear at all, Simon decided to donate the jeans to his father, but even though ‘pops Tuntelder’ has been wearing the hell out of them not much has happened to the hard wearing fabric. In Simon’s experience the slow fade is a characteristic that many Cone denims share, still, this slow natural process usually gives some very authentic fades compared to the high contrast fades of many fast fading Japanese denims. So, instead of a detailed analysis of the fading process this is Simon’s story of how his obsession with denim was probably shaped by his father’s preferences for utilitarian clothing.
It has been quiet from our Swedish hockey player, Viktor Pettersson, who’s wearing in the 1955 501XX for the Wear & Tear project. But the lack of updates on the fades of this fit is not caused by an equivalent lack of wear; Viktor loves the jeans, their fit, the hardwearing denim and the subtle, authentic fades it gets with wear. He has been wearing the jeans about 3-4 times a week and recently he washed them for the first time since the initial soak and wash. This is what the jeans look like after 11 month in regular rotation.
Our athletic celebrity participant of the Levi’s Vintage Clothing Wear & Tear Project, world rank top-10 badmintoner Jan Ø. Jørgensen has been wearing his 1954 501ZXX as often as his job allows him to for almost 11 months now and they are really starting to break in. Jan hasn’t washed them for about 4 month and they are really starting to get greasy from all the hours they’ve been worn on flights between Europe and Asia. In total Jan has only washed the jeans twice since he wearing them; one soak and two delicate machine washes, and they’re soon due for another wash.
Updates from our Levi’s Vintage Clothing Wear & Tear Project have been missing during the winter months, but we are coming around strong with a great finale with a comprehensive guide to all the fits in just about 6 weeks time. Until then you can enjoy these pictures of participant Mikkel H. Petersen’s 1944 S501XX at 10 months. Mikkel has worn the jeans almost daily for 9 months yet for the past month or so he has been using the jeans only while working. They’ve been washed 4 times, latest at 60°C followed by a tumble dry, which we wouldn’t normally recommend, but as Mikkel lost some weight he had to get the fabric to shrink a little more. For all that wear and tear it’s remarkable how little the jeans have faded, this denim is really not giving in easily.
May 20th 2013 marks a special day in the history of jeans. Every year we like to celebrate a little on this date, but this year it’s something special; the 140th anniversary of the U.S. patent #139,121 for the improvement in fastening pocket-openings, in other words the patent for riveting jeans, which is considered the birth of blue jeans as we know them. This is an ode to the 501.
With 102,000 square metres of manufacturing space, a weekly cotton consumption of 1.1 million kilos of raw cotton, and a production capacity of 2.3 million square metres of denim each week, the Mount Vernon Mills denim plant in Trion, Georgia is one of the largest manufacturers of denim in North America. Watch the short documentary presented by Americana Classic Vintage of Stockholm here.
Have you ever been told not to wash your jeans? I guess you have. Instead of washing I bet you’ve been told to put your jeans in the freezer if they start smelling? You’ve probably also been told to take your jeans to the ocean and scrub sand all over them to get a “great” fade? Or to wear them in your bathtub? Well, Kiya and Andrew of Self Edge are hear to bust all these myths. We basically agree with the two mythbusters, still, we do recommend you to give your jeans an initial soak before your start wearing them.