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Vintage Levi's on Ebay

Discussion in 'Classic Menswear' started by amirrorcrackd, Jan 25, 2005.

  1. amirrorcrackd

    amirrorcrackd Senior Member

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  2. LA Guy

    LA Guy Opposite Santa Staff Member Admin Moderator

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    First off, I like jeans, but I am not a Levi's expert. Was there no leather back tag on there at all? Are those Orange or Red tabs (looks sort of like the former.) It's difficult to tell whether that is real selvedge, but if it is, why is it not the famous red selvedge? And what do the tags inside look like? In the only closeup shot available, it seems that the jeans have a stonewash finish, which would put them post 1983 or so. The higher rise seems to indicate that they are from the 80's as well. For a while, Levi's was experimenting with a lot of wierd things (at one point, I remember that they had Orange, Brown, Red and Silver Tags, all of which were being marketed differently) in the eighties. It would not surprise me if these jeans were from that period.
     


  3. Baron

    Baron Distinguished Member Dubiously Honored

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    It's hard to tell exactly what those are. In the parlance of vintage jean traders, the most significant characteristic is the one that's identified in the title, and usually older (and more valuable) jeans have that characteristic plus others. For instance, the first level are "redlines," which just have the redline selvage in the seams. The next level would be "Big E's," which have the selvage plus the E in the small red tag on the back is capitalized. The next level is "Double X's," which have the selvage, big E, and a XX after the 501 on the leather tag. And so on.

    That said, any Levi's with the redline selvage are desireable and higher quality than new Levi's, depending on condition. If those are your size, they're worth at least $40 or $50 IMHO.

    edit after seeing LA Guy's post: All previous comments are assuming that those are indeed red tag 501's (it looks to me like they are). Also note that the traditional selvage is white, with a subtle red line running through it. I'm wearing a pair of reproduction Big E's right now, in fact.
     


  4. LA Guy

    LA Guy Opposite Santa Staff Member Admin Moderator

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    I was looking really hard to find the red selvedge line (note to everyone not into denim. Baron is correct. The selvedge line is red (looks sort of like chain stitching) underneath the white stitching , which is meant (as I know it) to further prevent fraying. Do the repros really still use Denim from the Cone mills?

    Also, how is it possilble to tell the provenance without the leather tag? Anyway, maybe you should go to a big bookstore. I think that there will a book there all about vintage Levi's.
     


  5. Baron

    Baron Distinguished Member Dubiously Honored

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    You probably can't tell the provenance exactly without the leather tag, but you can get close. For one, you can see if the E on the red tag is capitalized. You can look for single (as opposed to double on new jeans) stitching on the hem of the rear pockets. You can also see if there are hidden copper rivets in the crotch and rear pockets (these are pre WWII I think). Ususally repros are identified with text on the canvas of the front left pocket. But even without the leather patch, you can tell of they are just plain old 1970's era 501's, with the selvedge.

    And yes, the repros do use the denim from the cone mills. I think that there is a page within the levis.com site devoted to the current reproductions. They are now reproducing the 646 bellbottoms from the late 1960's, aside from the various 501's. I wish they would do a nice reproduction of the basic 517 bootcuts. I'm also fond of 517 corduroy jeans, which are no longer made but available easily enough on ebay.
     


  6. LA Guy

    LA Guy Opposite Santa Staff Member Admin Moderator

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    Totally forgot about the first (as I said, I'm not a Levi]'s expert. As for the second, from what I know, this was done in a very limited time frame, and I thought that that was about '55.
     


  7. Brian SD

    Brian SD Moderator

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    Can't see the selvedge well enough in those pictures, but looks like later 70s to me...

    1) No hidden rivets
    2) Denim texture resembles the late 70s/early 80s type
    3) Orange back pocket stitching is a characteristic of late 70s and beyond.

    Looks like pretty nice selvedge though. Can't tell if it's redline or not from the photos
     


  8. LA Guy

    LA Guy Opposite Santa Staff Member Admin Moderator

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    Um, I was under the impression that after selling their narrower looms off in the 50's and early 60s that Levis didn't make true selvedge denim jeans anymore. Certainly not by the 80s (that was my original guess re. the provenance).
     


  9. Baron

    Baron Distinguished Member Dubiously Honored

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    My friend the denim expert (he traded vintage denim for years) just came by my office, and he said that they redline selvedge jeans were made until the very early 1980's.

    As an aside, I can say from personal experience that Levi's have gone downhill since 1997. I bought a pair of new shrink to fit jeans that year, and they faded very nicely with limited washing and only line drying. I bought a similar pair last year and they faded so much after just a single wash, I was shocked. I couldn't get any 'character' to the fade at all.
     


  10. Brian SD

    Brian SD Moderator

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    I dont know how you can go about making jeans without true selvedge and have them still look like that. Well ...technically all jeans have selvedge seams but are not necessarily as nice looking as what we refer to these days as selvedge denim.

    I can personally attest to your bad experience with more recent Levis jeans, Baron. I cannot stand the newer Levis jeans, and Levis premium aren't worth half the retail price. Of course, that excludes the repros, which are really sweet. I like the 1944s and 1947s a lot, even if they are a bit baggier than I prefer my jeans.
     


  11. BlvdDandy

    BlvdDandy Senior Member

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    Not to ask the dumb question, but can someone tell me exactly what selvedge means?
     


  12. Brian SD

    Brian SD Moderator

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    It's just in reference to the outseam on the inside of the leg. I personally am not certain of the functional purpose, but I think true selvedge is done to keep the shape of the denim, as the twill weave tends to warp over time. It takes a lot more denim fabric to create a nice full selvedge seam, and different brands and factories have different ways of doing selvedge, some being more decorative than others (i.e. Evisu is highly decorative vs. Helmut Lang is very simple). Generally it's just a nice touch that is put on higher end jeans, from my understanding, although many people take it way too seriously. People who turn up/cuff the bottom of their jeans generally do it to show off the selvedge (unless they dont know what it is, and they're just going for the 50s style). [​IMG] That is an example of repro vintage Levis with redline selvedge seam.
     


  13. Brian SD

    Brian SD Moderator

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    [​IMG] These are Denimes. Arguably the kings of denim.
     


  14. LA Guy

    LA Guy Opposite Santa Staff Member Admin Moderator

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    Not exactly right. Selvedge actually refers to the weaving at the end of a piece of cloth that prevents fraying and unravelling. This only happens on true shuttle looms because in modern, projectile looms, the yarns are shot straight across rather than being woven side to side like in vintage looms. So unless the denimn in your jeans are made from vintage looms, you are not going to have true selvedge jeans, although a lot of companies will do a crude approximation of the chain stitching found at the selvedge that was an additional measure to prevent fraying, and is taken by many to be the selvedge itself. From denim companies which use old vintage looms that companies like Denime, 45RPM and Evisu use, *all the jeans are selvedge jeans because the looms were so narrow that it was necessary to cut the outseam all the way to the selvedge to have enough material to make the jeans. On *newer* vintage denim looms which made a much wider cloth, you would have selvedge jeans and non selvedge jeans, depending where the jeans were cut from on the material. *No* jean made from denim from modern projectile looms (and that includes most of the premium jeans companies we are familiar with) is technically a selvedge jean. They made be fine denims, but selvedge denims they are not.
     


  15. T4phage

    T4phage Distinguished Member

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    Originally posted by LA Guy:
    I agree with Baron, all the repos use Cone mills denim. On the 1933 reproduction, there is even a linen NRA (National Recovery Act) tag just below the leather tab identifying it as Cone Mills denim.

    Originally posted by Baron:
    LA Guy is right regarding the limited timescale that the copper rivet was covered, between 1940's to 1960's. As for the repos being identified with the text you mention, I can't find it, and I own quite a few of the repos from various years. What do you mean exactly?
     


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