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Paul T

Levi's 501 - a visual guide

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Thanks a lot! Sorry for the double post, don't know how to remove it. I forgot to mention there was a white thing on the back, hanging out from the tag, I removed that.

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So if I understand it right: Are the 55's and 66's wide in the thigh area? I'm not so good at maths, so should I just look at the thigh measurements, or think thigh compared to waist? Would be fun to try something else than the 33's this time.

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they're no where near as wide as the thighs on the '33, but the '55s and '66s are wider than the '44 and '47s (this is going off jeans with the same measured waist, and ignoring the tagged size). If you get the correct waist size (sized up 1 to 2" over your actual waist size), the thighs on the 55 shouldn't be an issue.

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I see, thanks. So are the 33s the widest when it comes to thighs, or are there any other years I should consider? They are normally pretty expensive compared to 55s and 66s I've noticed. I don't think I have abnormally wide thighs, but the 33s are the first jeans I've had that don't break in less than a year. That's why I don't wanna spend too much on jeans either.

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BUMPing this great thread, it deserves better than to be languishing unloved on page eleventy-seven and is a great resource for some of the newer Sufu crowd with an interest in LVC.

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Hi! I just joined, so I apologize if I am doing anything incorrectly. :)

Can anyone tell me what I have here? Are they 1947 re-issues?

Thank you in advance! xo

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They are indeed 1947 LVC reissues, as is evident from the label - 47501 - plus the leather patch, stitched arcs and hidden rivets. The back of the top button is stamped 554, which means they were made in Levi's San Antonio factory I think, although I'm not sure in which year.

As this is more of a reference thread, it's probably better to post anything LVC-related here.

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On 8/14/2007 at 5:34 PM, Paul T said:

1901

The 501 now has two back pockets, making it a '5 pocket jean'. The shape is still antifit, with straight legs, suspender buttons and no belt loops. The originals would still have used natural indigo denim, from the Amoskeag factory complex, although the reissues mostly use synthetic indigo.

Features:

Pockets: 5 (two back pockets), rear pockets are widely spaced. Coin pocket is squarer and higher than later jeans, just under the waistband.(in fact, this is one item that changes throughout the 501 - on this model, the bottom of the coin pocket ends only just below the main pocket, whereas the on the 55, say, it sits a couple of inches below).

Rivets: read "LS&Co SF"

Belt Patch; Two horse design, no size

Arcuates; vary widely on originals, single needle, hand done.

Cut of LVC version: anti fit, baggy in the seat, high rise, straight legs, like the 1880s jeans. The 1901 jeans, and those before, are narrower than the 20s and 30s versions. These LVC are made slightly oversize; it's probably best to size up two inches for a traditional, baggy fit ( although you will inevitably have problems with the completely useless cinch buckle) although the 2008 run is apparently more trim.

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These fade very differently from the 1930s or later jeans. (Suspicious patches are water splashes. Honest). This pair has been hand-washed twice, with perhaps five or 6 months wear. The fade pattern is pretty like originals, few whiskers & honeycombs, but more general, streaky wear. THis denim was quite a dark blue-black when new - the jeans are synthetic indigo - but with fading looks reasonably close to an original.

1922

By this time, Levi's had almost completely swtiched to a new denim supplier, Cone in North Carolina - production from Amoskeag had probably been problematic for some years thanks to union and other labor problems, plus a recession in the cotton industry. It's likely that Levi's had used fabric from both companies in the preceding years.

The Cone fabric has a red line by the selvage - this was used by Cone originally to differentiate denim made for different companies. (Lee often used yellow selvage). Earlier jeans have no selvage line. The Cone denim used synthetic indigo, as is the case for all 501 jeans in future .

By the late 20s, fabric was 10oz, slightly heavier in weight. Reissues use 12.5 or 13oz fabric, still from Cone. These jeans have straight, wide legs. Note the classic leather patch, cinch, and back pocket rivets. From 1910 or so, the leather patch has the size printed on. From circa 1922, jeans now have both suspender button AND belt loops. And, detail freaks, bottom hems are now chain-stitched.

From the 1890s, or earlier, Levi's also produced cheaper lines - the 201 was a cheaper version of the 501 and has also been reissued by LVC.

1922 201

The 201 was the budget version of the 501 - it already existed in the 1890s. It used 'No 2' denim from an unspecified supplier (amosekag was always mentioned in their easrly pricelists, so presumably the factory's output had a good reputation) - the denim perhaps looks greener and more slubby on the originals, and the jeans were 'cottton-stitched' as opposed to 'linen-sitiched', and had a cloth, as opposed to leather, 2-horse patch, and black-enamelled fly and suspender buttons. On the reissues (and, I would guess, the originals) there is a blue selvage line.

Rivets look different (copper plated rather than solid copper?). The shape is different from the 501 too - a narrow waist, wider around the bum, with straight, slightly wider leg; the pockets are larger, and closer together (compare them with the 1901 jeans, for instance, and they look very different). Depending on the fit you want, you might want to downsize on the replicas. The original reissue of the 201, produced in Valencia St SF, with 555 on the buttons, is regarded by some as the finest LVC reissue. It has lovely, greenish fabric. The RED series jeans, which hit the mass market as the Type 1, used denim inspired by the look of the 201.

Features:

Pockets: 5: back pockets are square, large, closer together than 1920s 501

Rivets: late style, with rounded tops, in what looks like a bronze-colour alloy

Belt Patch; white linen 2 Horse.

Arcuates; single needle

Cut of LVC version: waist is narrow, these flare out more from the waist than the 1933 501, and feel very full around the top of the thighs. Along with the 1933 501, these jeans have the widest legs of any LVC. With these jeans in particular, my suggestion would be to buy your actual size in these, unless you like them very baggy - the waist will stretch out, and the legs will still be reasonably roomy. Note that on the 20s jeans, and thereafter, the waist-band is made from one piece of fabric. Earlier ones were two-piece.

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Thai fakes often try to copy these jeans. But the fabric never looks as nice as these. Shown here are the early LVC reissue, on the left, and the current reissue, on the right. Note that by 1922, the hems were chain-stitched - earlier jeans were single stitched. You might also see a mutant variation of these jeans, when LVC fucked up - in 2006, I think - and put on the wrong pockets (too small) and the wrong arcuate (the 1947 style). The spring 2007 reissue, shown here, got it right.

1927 501

These jeans are very similar to the 1901 model, but for the paler stitching. On the 2008 model the pockets are a different shape, too. LVC produced these jeans because they mark the point at which Cone, in North Carolina, took over from Amoskeag. These were therefore the first 501 made with synthetic indigo, and the red line selvage which has become synonymous with vintage 501. On the jeans I've seen, which were factory samples rather than production versions, the back pockets were assymetrical, with quite quirky hand-done arcuates... I'm not sure how authentic this is, but it's quite an intriguing look.

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1927 501

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1933 501

Like its close cousin, the 20s 201, the 1933 501 has belt loops AND a cinch, plus the suspender buttons. Again, these have the widest leg of any 501 jean, reflecting fashions in the 30s. Note also that these have a more lemon-coloured stitching. The denim now carries a red selvage line, which denotes that it is made by Cone, for Levi's (Cone still makes all the reline selvage for LVC to date).

Features:

Pockets: 5 (two back pockets), rear pockets are the last to feature visible rivets.

Rivets: read "LS&Co SF"

Belt Patch; Two horse design, which now has the size printed on.

Arcuates; vary widely on originals, single needle, hand done.

Cut of LVC version: a more shape backside, with wide legs. Like all the earlier jeans, the 1933 are made slightly oversize. I would buy actual size in these; they will be one inch larger than the tag (2009 sizing) and will still be fairly generously sized aorund the thighs etc.

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1933 jeans from the 2004 season. Courtesy of THe Clerk. THese photos show what a vintage-style fade you can get from the Cone fabric.

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NEw example from the 2002 or 2003 season, complete with NRA tag.

1937

Two key changes: the red tag appears on the back pocket, a new invention that is heavily trademarked, to help distinguish Levi's from new competitors like Lee. (Levi's will heavily defend this trademark, which eventually applies around most of the world, except Japan). The back pocket rivets are now covered. These can readily be distinguished because of the stitching on the back pockets, which is wider around the top to run around the hidden rivets. The suspender buttons have now gone - they were supplied as optional clip-on versions, in the original jeans.

Features:

Pockets: 5 (two back pockets), rivets are now covered, and a single-sided red tab appears on the right hand pocket.

Rivets: read "LS&Co SF"

Belt Patch; Two horse design, which now has the size printed on.

Arcuates; vary widely on originals, single needle, hand done.

Cut of LVC version: Less full leg than the 1933 jeans.

On LVC, the 1937 fabric is, according to some collectors, including airfrog on this board, darker than the 33, and wears better. The 1933 seems to fade to a more royal blue - although it's hard to be conclusive, as samples can vary so much. Remember that current distressed models of LVC are made in Turkey (some previous models came from Romia) and the fabric comes from Italy, I believe, rather than Cone, causing more variation.

The LVC 1933 should generally be a looser fit, although there's considerable sample variation - again, many apparent differences in fit are simply the fact that the 1933 seem to be made slightly bigger. One day I'll speak to the LVC pattern cutter and find out more.

This pair courtesy airfrog:

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Obviously it is inappropriate to include those wonderful 201s in a 501 thread but I wondered if you had thought of updating this to include the the 1937 501XXc? I managed (by mistake) to grab myself 6 pairs of the 501XXc made in 1998 and am loving them. Fortunately, I got 4 of them were in the recent sale for under 30,000 yen.

Had you thought of linking this whole thread it to the LVC board, Paul? 

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