WHITE TEE | BLUE JEANS

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mickey spillane

Classic shot of writer Mickey Spillane in Levi 501 jeans.

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Sometimes it is as simple as that- a white tee and a well-worn pair of jeans.  Mickey Spillane isn’t trying too hard here– but sometimes we do.  Let the jeans do the heavy-lifting.  Keep them classic, but do be selective.  I love a great old pair of Levi 501s with that classic leg twist and a lived-in personalized patina that can only come from wearing them in yourself.  It’s all about making it your own– not buying it off the shelf.  We’ve all probably seen guys ruin this look by over-thinking, over-accessorizing, over-shooting, over-posturing– what have you. White tee, blue jeans, belt optional, classic watch recommended, personality required.

K I S S–  Keep it simple, stupid.  A mantra that still works with just about anything.  Like today– I was over-thinking what I would write.  Well, sometimes it just is what it is, and if you force it– it becomes contrived.  Today I feel like a white T and jeans.  I’m learning to listen everyday and go with the flow a little more.  When you’re obsessed with trying to control everything and everybody– you can leave a trail of brokenness and missed opportunity behind you.

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Shepard Fairey- Corporate Rebranding Tool.

I don’t have an issue with all the controversy surrounding Shepard Fairey these days– aside from his hypocrisy.  The guy is simply a commercial graphic artist out to make a name for himself.  In other words– a hired gun to assist corporations in promoting their brand’s goods and services.  What Shepard Fairey has done from day one is re-brand icons in his own image.  The fact that he is going after an Austin artist for appropriating one of his images for a parody does seem ironic and unfair though– seeing as how that’s how Fairey has lined his own pockets.  I guess he’s just protecting his own brand.  Let’s see if Fairey becomes the Nagel of our times.  Wait, that may not be a fair comparison– original Nagels are still appreciating and coveted for their artistic worth and cultural relevance.  Fairey may just end up as a parody of the Obama election and a bad fashion moment. 

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Got Rips?

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It’s become pretty obvious through the search queue, that there are many among us looking for a way to repair our favorite jeans.  I know that I definitely have a couple pairs of vintage Levi 501s in need of some serious mending.   I have a few others that I can’t even wear for fear that with my next squat I may unleash a bountiful Sunday turkey dinner with all the fixins’.

Now, it goes without saying that not all of us are as skilled a craftsmen as Carl Chiara here, and it’s also possible that we want our rips repaired in a more discreet manner.  That being said– we need the assistance of a reputable and professional denim repair service. 

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Great Depressionista

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Recesionista is one of those buzzwords of 2008 that’s getting a little overplayed.  In my small world, it’s feeling more like Great Depressionista— in regard to fashion and the economy.  Looking at these pictures from the 40’s, they look like what you see in a lot of Soho shops & vintage Americana brands these days like– RRL, LVC, Warehouse, etc.  There are great, rugged pieces, and little, honest details not to be missed– like our friend’s chambray workshirt (above) that’s been mended time and again over the years– out of necessity, not for fashion.  That looks like a great old pair of Levi 501s.  I like how the front belt-loops are placed nice and snug to the fly.

 

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COOL HAND LUKE | SOMETIMES A CHORE COAT CAN BE A REAL COOL HAND

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Cool Hand Luke starring Paul Newman is a classic film, and without a doubt one of my favorites.  It’s Newman’s greatest performance, in a film loaded with powerhouse acting.  You’ve got George Kennedy, Dennis Hopper, Harry Dean Stanton, Jo Van Fleet, Strother Martin (What we’ve got here is “failure to communicate”) and Dick Davalos, to name a few.  Don’t know who Dick Davalos is?  He played Blind Dick, and is best remembered as Aaron Trask, opposite James Dean’s Cal Trask in East of Eden.

Speaking of James Dean– the role of Lucas Jackson would more than likely been his– not Newman’s, had he not been killed in a fatal car crash.  Dean would have starred in The Left Handed GunSomebody Up There Likes Me and probably Hud as well.  Not to take anything away from Paul Newman, but Dean was definitely the bigger star back then, and his passing gave Newman a clear path to instant stardom.

26469_2Cool Hand Luke is visually rich with incredibly authentic sets, cultural cues, wardrobe and styling. I wanted to live in that prison bunkhouse.  What was so bad?  They got to hang-out, enjoy cold drinks, eat eggs and such.

I became obsessed with the old chain-gang garb, and own several beat-up, RRL denim chore coats because of it.  Chore coats are an iconically American piece– worn by laborers, convicts, artists and plain everyday folk.  And another American icon– the classic chambray workshirt is in there too.

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There was nothing not to like in this film– even the hair.  Carr the floor walker, and Blind Dick had very cool D.A.’s.  And what about the incredible score, Harry Dean Stanton’s crooning, and Paul Newman singing and playing banjo on Plastic Jesus?  The film is pregnant with comparisons of Luke to Jesus. Luke is their leader– his crucifixion pose after eating the eggs– “stop feeding off of me!” alluding to communion– Dragline as ‘Judas’ bringing the cops to Luke in the final scene– on and on.  There are some many famous lines in Cool Hand Luke that I could be here all day– “shaking it up here boss!”

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Digging for Denim.

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This is just an incredible read from the January issue of Outside magazine.  It’s all about mining for the vintage denim and duds of old miners!  

Brit Eaton is the best of a curious breed of fortune hunters combing old mine shafts and barns across the West for vintage denim. He’s discovered $50,000 worth of clothes in a single day, and his clients include Ralph Lauren and Levi’s.

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Junya Watanabe Spring 2009

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Junya Watanabe’s (of Comme des Garcons) Spring 2009 collection is a very fitted & fresh mix of American menswear “classics with a twist”.  Collaborations with iconic prepster brands- Brooks Brothers, Levi’s, Lacoste and Baracuta made for some funky updates to familiar models, patterns and fabrics.  What also makes it youthful is eye-catching denim pieces and cool hats thrown in.

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VINTAGE LEVI’S 501 JEANS | AN AMERICAN FASHION ICON

1950s Levi's Vintage 501 - front. Courtesy of Warehouse website

 

1950s Levi’s Vintage 501 – front. Check the leg twist you’d get with old, un-sanforized denim.

1950s Levi's Vintage 501, back- Courtesy of Warehouse website.

Back view of a vintage Levi’s 501 jean.

Why do I love vintage Levi 501 jeans you ask?  Let me count the ways-

  • The capital “E’ on the red tab, introduced in 1936 and produced up until 1971.
  • The brown leather patch- changed to “leather-like” cardstock in the mid-late 1950s.
  • The red selvedge 10 oz denim woven by Cone Mills, North Carolina on 29″ wide looms.  I wish it were a little denser- but I’m not complainin’.
  • The incredible leg-twist that you get on a pair of vintage non-sanforized 501 jeans.
  • The great tracks produced by the selvedge outseams from wear and bruising of the denim.
  • The Arcuate stitching or “double arcs” on the back pockets- one of the oldest apparel trademarks still in use today.  During WWII it was actually painted on to due to government rationing.
  • The very narrow hem at the bottom leg opening, and all the great bunching and bruising from shrinkage and wear.

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