The Levi’s 501 jean is an archetype, the jean that all jeans sprang from. Levi’s Vintage Collection does a fantastic job of producing faithful reproductions of the 501 from the defining moments of its history. From the introduction of belt loops in the 1933 501 to the abandonment of the suspender buttons in 1937, to the painted Arcuate and loss of the cinch on the 1944 to the more modern, recognisable cut of the 1947. Each iteration marks an important step in the development if the 501 and indeed in the history of jeans themselves. The changes reflect the history of the time period, technological changes, fashion, practicality and social status. However, there is one jean in the 501 family that tends to get overlooked and it could be argued that it is the most authentic of all 501s. Namely the humble Red Tab 501 shrink-to-fit jean.
Levi’s Made and Crafted was started four ago under the Levi’s premium division, known as Levi’s XX, with an obsession with materials, construction, and fit. The brand is often overshadowed by the Levi’s Vintage Clothing line, but Made & Crafted is nothing short than great itself. The brand recently released a short video where design director, Miles Johnson explains the inspiration behind the spring 2013 collection referred to as ‘The Painted Desert’.
“I just found a pair of what appears to be an original vintage Levi’s 501, but how can I be sure that it’s the real deal?” Some of the most frequently asked questions we get are related to determining the authenticity of vintage jeans, especially Levi’s 501s. This article focuses on what you should be looking out for with late-1960s 501 jeans, exemplified with this rather rare pair produced between 1967-1968. But how can we be sure about this? Well, for starters it’s difficult to put an exact production date to a pair of vintage 501s, but by following the check liste below you will be able to get pretty close.
Yesterday, my good friend and fellow Levi’s-lover, Nils Schéle sent me an e-mail that is a little out of the extraordinary compared all the daily junk, and it sent me off to other place for a few minutes. The message was loud and clear:
I’m pleased to inform you that Lynn Downey has agreed to meet you in the Archives … “
As one of the world’s leading denim manufacturers, Levi’s has great responsability when it comes to setting industry standards. Back in November we featured an article about the next generation of Levi’s Waste<Less denim that is composed of 20% polyester fibre equalling 8 recycled plastic bottles. In cooperation with long-time partner and supplier, Cone Denim, Levi’s is pioneering the idea of incorporating post-consumer waste into the fabrics. Curious to find out more, we asked Levi’s’ European Men’s Merchandising & Design Director, Christophe Winnock, a few questions about the project.
A few weeks back, our newest member of the Denimhunters team posted an article about how to spot vintage Levi’s denim jackets. This led to few comments and questions, and especially William (Bill) Holt’s 884-word contribution inspired us. That’s why we asked Bill to give us his opinion on the matter, and here it is.
The “incurable collector of Americana,” Patrick Segui of the blog Riveted did a little spring cleaning a couple years back, which led to the discovery of a pair of rare 1955 501 Levi’s jean form the ‘Capital E’ line that ran from 1989 until the launch of Levi’s Vintage Clothing in 1996. At the time (in 2010), he had already been sitting on the jeans for 13 years (!) and back in the 90s he only paid $26.99 for them, which is ridiculous, especially when you consider that they were manufactured at the Valencia Street factory of a 14 oz. hairy American milled denim. Click here to see how the jeans evolved after Patrick has been working in them once a week for 2 year and only washed them twice.
Speaking about denim jackets (in our Guide to Vintage Levi’s Jacket published the other day), Stylesight featured a great interview with Lynn Downey talking about some amazing jackets from the Archives. Apparently, they visited Lynn last week in San Francisco and had a tour around the place – not jealous at all.
For a while I’ve been hunting for at nice vintage Levi’s denim jacket. With so many second hand clothing shops and all other charity and recycling initiatives and our denim history in the Netherlands where I live it shouldn’t be that hard. So, well prepared with knowledge of ‘how to recognise vintage Levi’s’, I made a list of several potential shops within a 25 kilometre range of my home that I could visit. Here’s what I found.