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.
1950s Levi’s Vintage 501 – front. Check the leg twist you’d get with old, un-sanforized denim.
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.
--Carl Chiara, design director LEVI'S CAPITAL E and RED COLLECTIONS
“I like the process- from a brand-new unwashed pair of jeans until they’re ready for burial. I really do wear them hard. I start off by doing a lot of squats to get the wrinkles in nicely. But the number one trick is wearing your jeans every single day and letting your sweat and oils start to morph the denim, so it becomes a very personal shape. I think the key difference with the 501 is that it fits around your body. I like the way that 501’s don’t follow your every curve; they evolve to fit your body. Also, as they move along, I repair them so I can get more wear out of them. They really do become a part of you. Once you break a pair in, there’s no alternative. You just can’t put on another pair of jeans.”
– Carl Chiara, design director LEVI’S CAPITAL E and RED COLLECTIONS