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Vintage Denim?


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Part 1 (continued next page) 


A story about 1984 jeans. 

And now for something completely different...

Bit of a ramble coming...but also some obscure and not so obscure denim history. 

So way back in 1998- 1999 I was still skating every day. While buying fresh wheels I noticed a new pair of jeans, a denim jacket, along with a promo video, had showed up at my local skate shop.

The video was called "Let It Bleed" and the company was called 1984. The video was raw and rough and the skaters were very hesh, with a punk and metal soundtrack, opening up with Devo's "Gut Feeling" and featuring bootleg clips from crime movies in between the skating,  I was instantly sold. 


The jeans themselves were like a vintage 501 cut from a very hatchy yet soft washed denim with a dirty oil wash, slight taper and red stitching on the outseam to simulate a selvage line. Even had a red tab in the right spot that read "1984" and the button fly had vintage donut buttons. The inner tag announced that they were proudly Made in USA with "American hands" and invited the owner to wear them "Until the wheels came off". Vaguely hot rod inspired skate jeans made in the U.S.A. with an edgy name? 

Of course I had to have them. 

 Now keep in mind that the premium denim explosion had not yet blown up and the fledgling  Levis Vintage Clothing was barely 2 years old. The Japanese were already going full speed but the internet was not what it is today and access was very limited and retro inspired lines were not a dime a dozen yet. I think I has heard of "Evis" or EVISU but wouldn't know how to begin finding a pair. 

So these fit the bill. I wore them like a vintage pair, with big turn ups and Chucks. I opened them up on Christmas Day 1999 along with my fresh wheels and a new Toy Machine beanie (pictured here with my son, age 2)


 I still have the jeans stored away somewhere ( they were actually never great for skating) but never got the denim jacket which was basically a Levi's type 1 with different tags. Notice the selvedge edge!

Found one for sale on Depop but I'm not dropping $200 on it. Shown below: 


Did anyone notice the branding on the copper donut buttons? Look closer. 


Yes. THAT Von Dutch. Of low rise flares and $100 trucker cap fame. 

But French designer Christian Audigier had not yet been brought on board and the ubiquitous trucker cap was still a few years from infamy. 

Of course I knew who Von Dutch the artist was but had no idea why his name was on my jeans. Yet. As far as I was concerned this just added to the retro vibe of the pants. 

 But the whole planet was about to find out what the deal was. 

 Let's back up. The company Von Dutch originally started when the family of pin striper Kenny Howard, better known as Von Dutch, sold the rights to his name to a local businessman named Ed Boswell who started out selling flying eyeball patches and eventually a clothing line that leaned into the California hot rod/garage/retro/motorcycle subculture vibe that Von Dutch was a part of. 

An early patch highlighting the retro garage vibe that Von Dutch launched with: 



 At some point very early on they decided to do a skateboarding line and that is what the 1984 brand was all about. The skate line was very short lived (maybe just one or two releases and many of the skaters would go on to form the Piss Drunx and later Baker Skateboards) and eventually the company would change hands altogether and the retro hot rod vibe would be almost entirely replaced by something much more garish and blingy after French designer Christian Audigier took over creative control in 2002 and the original owners were sidelined or forced out. 

Below is an example of the over the top designs that Audigier popularized. 



 By 2003 the hats were suddenly everywhere in every color combo and iteration. And since the trucker cap is an easy to wear piece of iconic Americana, everyone got in in it. PUNK'D era Ashton Kutcher sticks out in my mind for some reason but when Brittany Spears was seen on the cover of People wearing one, they exploded overnight. 

 There is a pretty lengthy and entertaining documentary on Netflix about the rise and fall of Von Dutch as trendy high fashion that covers most of this so I won't go into too much detail here but like most trends, eventually the trucker hats lost popularity and when news of Kenny Howards's racist and Nazi sympathies came to light the brand , now derided as Von Douche, faded into obscurity. Apparently the name and hats have been trying to make a come back recently and although I'm hoping it fails for a second time we are about to experience a wave of Y2K nostalgia that might give them a boost. Next get ready for dirty denim to make a return!

 Now if I could just find a used hat cheap enough I would definitely start wearing it just for the shits n giggles. 

 Ironically, after VD collapsed Audigier would go on to replicate that success by licensing and then bastardizing another infamous American artist with even more garish dreck:  ED HARDY. 

While I think Kenny Von Dutch Howard was Notsee scum who probably deserved to have his name dragged through the mud,  Ed Hardy is an American icon whose work as a tattoo pioneer will forever be overshadowed by very ugly bedazzled t shirts. 

But before all that we had a humble clothing line just fiding their identity and trying to carve out a little niche for themselves  lmaking vintage inspired denim in the City of Angels a few years before the floodgates of premium denim opened up full bore and terms like raw denim and selvedge were still obscure terms. 

 If you read all the way to the end of this thank you for listening to me ramble and thank you for your time. 

 I will be following this up with a much shorter post of me wearing a pair of recently aquired dead stock Von Dutch jeans that I found and challenged myself to style. 

Below: A hopelessly ugly pair of pocket-less women's Von Douche denim with far too many patches. Screenshot_20231016-135653_SamsungInternet.thumb.jpg.ef37a480b9bb71241fd503a1f58dfd84.jpg


Edited by cultpop 0217
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Amazing history, thank you so much for sharing! I find the intersections & transitions between anti-consumerist and underground skate/punk/biker/tattoo culture and the hyper-capitalist mass-culture mall brand conglomerations that entirely appropriated their imagery and message to always be really perversely fascinating. I used to have (and somehow lost or maybe had stolen) a collection of 200+ late 80s-early 90s tattoo magazines from all different corners of the market that I used to keep in the front of my old shop, which documented roughly the same era, when dinosaur mega corporations had just started creaking their necks around with interest, then intense fascination and finally wholesale obsession at the DIY/punk/new-age/grunge conglomerations that had formed in the shadows of early disposable neoliberalism. It was the end of all of those scenes as true forms of resistance, IMO, but still where a majority of punk aesthetics are trapped in today, right at this point when these subcultures first became fossilized in amber in trashy-outsourced-mall-brand form. Interestingly, Ed Hardy has said in several interviews that he welcomed the creation of the brand that used his name, because although it did harm his legacy among people of a certain generation, its revenues funded the creation of his tattoo history museum in the Bay Area that will hopefully leave a more flattering and enduring version of the history of his life & work to the world.

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Part 2

(Continued from last page)



After falling down a rabbit hole trying to dig up some information on the 1984 brand and it's connection to Von Dutch I found this early pair for sale and I couldn't pass them up.  The top button is missing but no hole left in the fabric tells me it was never added and the tags tell me these have never seen water so they must have been sitting folded up somewhere since the turn of the century. 

The details are very similar to the pair that I purchased at the skate shop years ago although this is a much thicker and more robust denim and instead of some light "oil staining" on the legs these have an nice brown/olive weft that gives them their dirty look.  They also have some of the earliest examples of fake whiskers that I've seen and for 1999, it's actually not too bad of a job.  Can't remember if my old pair had the same fake distressing  or not but the wash is more realistic than most of what you'll find today. 

 Again the cut is a vaguely vintage inspired relaxed taper but these are at least one size too big in the waist so they are extra full in the leg with plenty of anti fit. 

Retro inspired tags, fake selvedge, donut button fly, and again made in the U.S.A. with a tag emploring us to ride them "Until the Wheels Come Off". No bling in sight. 

Below: some retro inspired branding details and the same inside care tag as my old 1984 jeans.


Hard to imagine what this company was about to become from this humble well built pair. 

Styled them here with denim on denim on denim. Digging the full leg shape. 

Denim Fishermen's cap

Vintage Levis jacket

LVC tee

Favorite leather belt 

Von Dutch Jeans

Some beat up shell longwings in desperate need of a resole. 





The fly showing the missing top button and a bit of the denim texture including the colored weft. Screenshot_20231016-154616_Instagram.thumb.jpg.045d8d2937cc92c7b8a6ce3b02e32091.jpg


The outseam stitching is clearly meant to evoke a selvedge line. 





Edited by cultpop 0217
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That was a great read.. well done for putting the effort in @cultpop 0217

Von Dutch was a brand which completely passed me by, i remember the trucker caps, Hip in Leeds used to be full of the damn things.. they were like £50 or something, an insane amount of £££s for a cap in that era.. i didn't even know he was a nazi until i heard it on 'behind the bastards' podcast a few years ago. :rolleyes:

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8 hours ago, smoothsailor said:

Pretty cool @cultpop 0217 .

would this be from the same guy/company who did the horrible Ed Hardy stuff?

I had a pair of von Dutch jeans in 95 or so. They had flames painted on the cuff, and the fit was more or less the same as yours

Not at first. Ed Boswell started the company to make patches and brought on Michael Cassel, a former drug dealer,  and Bobby Vaughn, former pro surfer who were in charge of developing the brand's clothing. 

 That's when the skate stuff happened and probably when your flame jeans were made. 

Christian Audigier was the Ed Hardy guy and he came on as designer for Von Dutch around 2002 after it was sold to a Danish investor. 

Then came the trucker caps and the bling. 

 After Von Dutch collapsed, Audigier would go on to form Ed Hardy. 


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Thanks @cultpop 0217 I didn’t see you first post about it.

bought mine in a skate shop too. I was so proud to rock them, even though people made fun of me, about being on fire.

there is a Dutch truck driver singer  with a song called, met de vlam in de pijp.

wich means driving fast with your truck it translates to with fire in the exhaust pipe. And pipe translate to trouser leg.

you still following?

anyway great post and brought back good memories 

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  • 1 month later...
  • 4 weeks later...

The last of the best: snagged these 501s made in the US for EU market in 2000 for around 20 bucks.
Fit is of course immaculate, they also have some nice fades started and I'll continue to wear them.
To think that just 10 years later I bought my first pair 501s but at that point they were paper thin and made in Bangladesh.

Edit: it is possible to enhance image for better quality.


Edited by NilsLW
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  • 1 month later...

Vintage 1970s Made in USA Orange Tab 517 Saddleman Boot Jeans made with Dura Plus Denim "A special blend of cotton and polyester for improved shrinkage control" less wrinkles, and improved fabric strength. 

What a mouthful. These were made around my third birthday in November of 1978.  They have an small "e" orange tab, Talon 42 zipper,  two different colored threads on the inside inseam (a favorite) and a weird sun? bleached spot on the knee from where they were folded on a shelf. They were hemmed at the perfect length to flare out nicely over both my boots and my loafers and with a nice higher rise they fit like a glove. Which is good because unlike other poly blended denim, these have zero stretch with even less give than 100% cotton denim. Like old washed Wrangler broken twill. Sturdy, solid, unyielding. 












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  • 2 weeks later...

Seems as if there's no ceiling to price in the vintage market, Mushroom Vintage selling a deadstock S506xx for ¥30.8 million and deadstock '37 jeans for ¥19.8 million...insane.
Japan GQ article here with a few more photos available in the gallery link: https://www.gqjapan.jp/article/20240126-isetan-mushroom-24-pop-up-news

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S'funny @Broark just saw this before your post. Here's all the pics l have have collected of this pair. Amazing.

Forgot to say l collected these purely for the flasher/ticket info but also because of that wavey back pocket stitching 😍








Edited by Dr_Heech
To try to remember why l originally screenshotted those pics
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5 hours ago, shredwin_206 said:

@AlientoyWorkmachine the amount of tears that would be shed if I treated them like my other jeans. Hahah 

It should be possible to bottle them and wait 90 years and sell them as the raw vintage tears of a (sort of) pre apocalyptic landscape. 

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  • 2 months later...
  • 2 weeks later...

Nicked these pics from lg - looks like a late 1941/early 1942 model 501XX. The model just before the forthcoming Freewheelers 1942 repro (last cinch model 501xx before the simplified S501xx)

Has the flipped yoke, left over right panels  and a black buckle. Beautiful pale yellow almost white stitching after years of wash and wear.



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