London-based archive Beyond Retro’s latest weekly edit focuses on rare and embellished vintage Levi’s, in honor of the iconic denim brand’s 140th Birthday.
There are few areas of vintage clothing that inspire such levels of intense enthusiasm and obsessive passion as denim. Add to this the legacy that supports Levi’s as the original innovator of the riveted blue jean, and the fervent, fanatical fans that collect it can reach unprecedented levels of delirium; competition is high, along with prices, both increasing in numbers the rarer a piece gets.
In contrast to those looking for pristine, damage-free ready-to-wear, denim clients of the archive are always interested in items that show genuine age. Threadbare artefacts say a thousand words; there is an intrinsic authenticity and a real sign of life, lived, in vintage denim- an aesthetic that myriad companies have tried to replicate for a good 20 years now.
As well as rare finds from industrial working eras’ past, another key area of interest is the personalization of denim. Clothing really comes to life when the wearer has added their own story. Below, a sampling of favorites from the Beyond Retro collection.
For all inquiries and to set up an appointment please contact Archive Manager Joseph O’Brien at firstname.lastname@example.org.
1. An original Type 1 jacket is always special but finding a child’s size is both miraculous and marvelous. This pre-1940s item would have been produced solely for the purpose of heavy work, so it’s telling of the time that the item is cut to fit a young teenager.
2. Incredible leather appliqués meander across these soft-wash Levi’s flares. Straight out of Native Funk & Flash!
3. Limited runs and one-off projects have kept Levi’s fresh to its fans for decades. This pair of Big E’s features a fully-woven brand patch and an embroidered cowboy on the back left pocket.
4. Split seams, frayed edges, and worn-out fabric provide elements of genuine history that are invaluable as fabric development references for designers and manufacturers.
5. A fungi to be with (ah ah ah)! The original embroiderer of this 1960s Big E jacket was most likely stitching in a patchouli-scented oasis at the time of embellishment.