New Brand: Levi’s Vintage Clothing
Words: Amber Grünhäuser
What is iconic, predominantly blue and captures the zeitgeist of pivotal cultural movements throughout the ages? It boasts two legs, a rebellious spirit, and is embraced by workers, revolutionaries, misfits, outlaws, rockers, music lovers, forward-thinking regular and extraordinary folks (and quite possibly your mama). The answer is undoubtedly a pair of Levi’s.
In its original form, Levi Strauss & Co. designed utilitarian workwear for the miners of the Californian gold rush. Bavarian entrepreneur and dry goods merchant Levi Strauss hired Jacob Davis, a Latvian tailor based in Reno, Nevada, to refine the design. It’s hard to imagine Strauss and Davis could have foreseen the journey their hardworking but humble “waist overalls” would make, from rugged utility to cultural heavyweight, when they took out a US patent in 1873 for “Improvement in Fastening Pocket-Openings” (aka work pants reinforced with metal rivets) and denim jeans were born.
Today, Levi Strauss & Co. denim is synonymous with easy cool. Levi’s jeans have been effortlessly incorporated into the shifting sands of counterculture ever since youth worldwide voiced their dissatisfaction with the status quo. The Levi’s Vintage Clothing (LVC) line celebrates the rich diversity of cuts and cultural relevance as it references choice moments of time from the Levi Strauss & Co. archive. LVC first launched its European collection in 1996. Set apart from the main Levi’s collection, Levi’s Vintage Clothing doesn’t follow market trends. In contrast, LVC selectively recreates, reimagines and reinvigorates historical classics from the Levi Strauss & Co. archive into contemporary context. The San Francisco-based archive acts as a living research lab for all things Levi Strauss & Co.; it includes original pieces from bygone eras in various states of wear and tear, from hanging by a thread to pristine condition.
The Levi’s Vintage Clothing core range features iconic cuts from the 40s and 50s that translate seamlessly into contemporary styles, including the 1947 501 jeans, the quintessential rock’n’roll standard fit considered the gateway denim to exploring the world of Levi’s Vintage Clothing; the 1954 501 jeans with its slightly tapered fit; and the boxy 1955 501 jeans for the true Hollywood rock’n’roll, biker look. These cuts are available in rigid shrink-to-fit or pre-shrunk seasonal and new rinses. The core collection is complemented by the 1950s Sportswear Tees and Bay Meadows Sweatshirt.
Accompanying the core range is a seasonal, concept-inspired collection developed around selected archival pieces, stories and movements that speak to our times. Each season head designer Paul O’Neil digs through the archives to find these archival gems and stories to revitalise, drawing inspiration from historical and cultural context. For authenticity, garments are painstakingly recreated as close as possible to the original. The design team examines the twill pattern, number of stitches per inch, thread thickness, original production methods and machinery used in order to capture the true essence of the original garment. When original methods are deemed impossible, then artistic leeway comes to the fore. With the closure of Cone Mills in 2017, the original and long-standing producer of Levi’s 501 denim for over one hundred years, Levi’s Vintage Clothing has moved fabric production to the renowned Kaihara mill in Japan, which has a long history steeped in indigo-dyed kasuri textiles before moving into denim production in the 70s. While the move signals a new era in the evolution of the brand, expert craftmanship remains paramount.
Past Levi’s Vintage Clothing collections have paid homage to the folk music scene of Greenwich Village, New York, the Jamaican “Rockers”; the mid-80s underground Punk of Louisville, USA; and the iconic space race, to name a few. For spring/summer 2021, the Levi’s Vintage Clothing Loose Fix collection revels in the loved-up, ecstatic, mid-to-late 80s acid house explosion inspired by the house and techno sounds of the Chicago and Detroit underground that infiltrated Manchester clubs in the mid-80s. Dance met indie and sent Manchester (and the UK) into a spin that pre-empted rave.
Levi’s loose, relaxed fits were worn typically oversized for all-night dancing comfort. Back when blue denim was complemented by brightly coloured anoraks, bucket hats gained traction and baggy reigned supreme. Nights at The Haçienda and alike provided The Good Life for all compliments of A Guy Called Gerald and a dude called Armando, among others. It would appear that the warm fuzzy feeling keeps on giving, some thirty-odd years later. No wonder Levi’s Vintage Clothing chose to revive this sentiment. When summer rolls around, the time will be ripe for post-lockdown dance-floor mayhem. Get ready for Big Fun 2021 style and let’s dance again like it’s 1990 (or 2019 if you prefer that)!
If you are feeling Levi’s Vintage Clothing but are not quite ready to get in touch with your inner acid house smiley, check out a pair of LVC’s 1947 501 jeans for iconic vintage meets contemporary classic.
Take a look at our range of Levi’s Vintage Clothing at HHV: Levi’s Vintage Clothing | HHV
Visual content: Levi’s Vintage Clothing