Feb 15, 2017 | By Samuel Trotman
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The Levi’s® Vintage team takes their research to another level for S/S 13, venturing to the silver mines of Death Valley – home to the people for whom the Levi’s product was originally made.
The Levi’s® Vintage design team normally works in the office, using their amazing archive resources for reference and inspiration. That’s all very nice, but when they were invited by Michael Harris to travel to Death Valley and explore a silver mine that had lain disused for 130 years, they jumped at the chance. From the images below you can see that this is research on another level and a chance for designer Miles Johnson and the team to get a feeling for the people for whom their product was originally made. What they found among the rubble, together with pieces from the vast Levi’s® archive, would provide inspiration for this season’s story, “The Miner”. Below is an excerpt from the lookbook on their trip:
“After a long journey we arrived in the desert in the pitch dark night and caught a few hours sleep in a trailer, walking to the dazzling light of the morning sun coming over the mountains. There was no time to lose before hiking to the mine became impossible in extreme heat. Carrying helmets with flashlights and wearing rigid Levi’s we climbed over rock and scree until we reached the mineshaft in the mountainside. Once inside we had to crawl on hands and knees in places until we reached a likely area. Then began the digging and scrabbling and moving of rubble. We found shirt sleeves, canvas bags, an old shoe and a little felt hat, and that was just the first morning. All the normal detritus of a nineteenth century miner’s life, but to us a humbling experience.”
The collection features original silhouettes of the uniforms worn by these workers, like 1936 Type I Jackets, 1920s Sunset Shirts, 1890 501 jeans and a 1870s popover shirt with localized wax drippings that reference the candles workers used in the mines. One of the finest pieces from the collection is the 1870s Triple Pleat Blouse, complete with rusted hardware and an authentic dirt wash that makes it appear as though it was pulled straight from the rubble.
The Women’s line takes a direct translation from the Men’s with “The Miner’s Daughter.” a line of masculine-inspired silhouettes reworked in feminine proportions. The idea behind this collection was a direct interpretation of how a miner’s daughter would have altered typical male items to suit her body type. This resulted in bedshirts reworked in skirts, coverall bib dresses and a customized Type I jacket in cape-like proportions. Like the menswear line, the collection features beautifully sun-faded and dusty laundries and the delightful handcrafted details that you have come to expect from the LVC brand.
The second theme for the S/S 13 collection takes a more retro route and takes inspiration from the explosion of the Hot Rodding scene in 1950s America. Fast cars, open roads and the idea of freedom have long been an inspiration for Americans and Levi’s clothing has always been the first choice for these sharply dressed car owners and spectators throughout the sport.
The LVC team poured through the vintage archive to uncover some of the secrets of the past and bring them back to life through faithful reproductions that are as fresh now as they were back then. These include some of the key sportswear pieces that emerged during the 50s – 60s like bedford cord pants, Levi’s “White Levi’s” archival line, and blouson bomber jackets that channel the retro resort looks of the two eras. Amongst the collection is a number of novelty pieces like 50s space print shirt, stars and stripe button downs as well as some core fits like the 1966 501 and 1960s 518 fit for men and the high-waist 701 pant for women.
We were invited for the preview of the full Levi’s S/S 13 collection in London yesterday, so watch out for our coverage on this today.
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