How do I shop for vintage jeans?
No other fashion item has stood the test of time and arguably defined the American style more than a pair of blue jeans. Humble yet rebellious, and simply iconic, the five-pocket pants are the most hard-wearing piece of clothing in any man’s wardrobe. In menswear, there are only a few things that have hardly changed throughout the past hundred years and the blue jeans have been at the forefront of these archival garments. With this reason, vintage jeans have become highly sought after with some pairs dating back as far as late 19th century.
When it comes to shopping for vintage jeans, the most coveted brand is none other than the company that invented what we have come to call ‘jeans’. Among innumerable vintage jeans in the market, the Levi’s 501 remains the holy grail of all jeans, fetching prices from a few hundred baht to staggering several hundred thousand baht depending on the period, model, size, condition and rarity.
We understand that blindly hunting for vintage jeans can be an extremely overwhelming experience, whether it be online, a local thrift store or a flea market. The limited selection of vintage Levi’s jeans you find at W. MINISTRY has been expertly sourced by a team of passionate vintage enthusiasts to ensure that only the best are on offer – great condition, characterful, unaltered, entirely original and in good sizes.
The History of Levi’s Jeans
Back in San Francisco in 1853, Levi Strauss founded his dry-goods business called Levi Strauss & Co. As successful as Strauss was, he owed a great deal to Jacob Davis, a tailor from Nevada who created the copper-riveted workwear for which the brand would be world famous.
Strauss and Davis created their first products in 1872: riveted workwear made from either cotton duck or true blue denim. A year later, Levi Strauss & Co. and Jacob Davis received patent #139,121 from the US Patent and Trademark Office on the process of the riveting denim waist coveralls – officially marking the creation of the blue jean or, as it was called then, the ‘XX’. The name was a reference to the best (‘extra, extra strong’) denim manufactured by the Amoskeag Manufacturing Company of Manchester, New Hampshire, where the original jeans were made.
In 1886, Levi Strauss & Co. introduced the Two Horse logo, branded on a leather patch sewn on to the waistband. The Two Horse logo, visualising two horses trying in vain to tear a pair of Levi’s in half, remains one of the best examples of effective branding, giving a message about the strength and functionality of its products that still sees today.
In 1890, Levi Strauss & Co.’s patent expired and the company had to come up with ways to distinguish itself and its products from its competitors, who arrived on the market that year. With this in mind, Levi Strauss & Co. started printing the inside pocket bag with information on the strength and originality of the ‘XX’ denim waist coveralls, ensuring consumers knew who had got there first. Along with this change came the introduction of lot number 501, effectively rechristening the ‘XX’ with product name that we have known the jean by ever since