Levis denim has been back under our style radar for the past couple of years now. My last real defining Levis style moment was back in the early 90’s with a couple of pairs of beloved 501’s that I wore in my teens until they literally fell off me. Levis re-released the 1947 cult classic, 501, in 2015, hitting the market and our hearts once again. I reckon we are shifting our style thoughts on denim now. Possibly seeking a contrast and moving away from the skinny stretch denim we’ve had in our wardrobes for the past few years. I can’t help think, people like me are looking towards adding some authentic individual style, personality, sustainable style and the next unique look, to their wardrobe. I’ve been hitting the charity shops/thrift stores on the hunt for some good vintage denim. Don’t get me wrong, I still adore my J brand and Topshop skinny denim jeans. And lord help me, do I need some bloody stretch in them! I wear and rely on Gap 1969 denim, for work, as when working with children, you’re always on the bloody floor or covered in snot from the knees down! I tend to bag Gap denim that’s dirt cheap in the sale and therefore never worry about wrecking it. But for the weekend, I’m now hankering after some authentic denim with a little style, history and personality to it. Calling out to the Levi denim brigade.
So you can only imagine how my heart skipped a beat, flicking through some pics on Instagram, as I spotted Debbie Harry in Levis. Yep, one of my all time iconic style heroines, Debbie Harry, of Blondie, performed in Levi 505’s last month, at the Bowery Ballroom, in NYC. This was a celebratory promo gig for the re-release of Levis 505. The Instagram pics (@levis) looked fab, but to be honest, I didn’t even know a 505 style existed??. It was only the 501 style that what inhabited my style subconscious. A little research led me down a path starting with this fab Telegraph UK article. Make way for Levis and the 501’s rebellious sister, the cult favourite denim favoured by Debbie Harry and the Ramones. Bring on the 505. Yessssss!!
The History Behind Levis 505
The Levis 505 was a design born in 1967. Based off an early zip-fly jean design they had during the time Levis was still a workwear brand as opposed to a lifestyle one.
Levis wanted the same straight leg as the 501 but with a zip instead of button fly to give a flatter front. The 505 style was their first venture into the pre-shrunk denim market too. No sitting in the launderette, with Nick Kamen, was required to wear these jeans now! Remember that Levis ad Good lord, that was 1985? wtf! 31 years ago ?!
Up until then, apparently the Levis denim came directly from the loom, and so you would have to wash the jeans to shrink them to your size. Seems absolutely bonkers to think of this now!
So with a slimmer, flatter and lower rise Levi jean. The 505 style won the hearts on the New York City rock scene in the seventies. The C.B.G.B rockers wore them and the fans imitated them.
Blondie’s Debbie Harry wore hers so well. All Hail Debbie. I adore this photo taken on stage in NYC.
The Ramones all wore the 505 denim on the self titled ‘The Ramones’ album cover in 1967.
The famous Rolling Stones Sticky Fingers album cover created by Andy warhol, was of a pair of Levi 505 zip fly jeans!
*images above via Pinterest
Levis Re-launching The Rebellious 505
Levis have made a smart move over the last couple of years. They noticed a surge in the young hip market sourcing out and buying vintage Levis from vintage stores, specialist vintage denim sources and via the old faithful eBay and Etsy. I reckon they are reclaiming the title of ‘Denim kings’ by cleverly re-launching the classic traditional authentic denim styles. This is perfect for the likes of me, who sometimes just can’t be arsed or just don’t have the time or ‘specialist vintage denim’ funds to bag a pair of Levis from the 70’s. By re-launching the authentic 505 style for 85 quid or 120 dollars. Winner winner chicken dinner! Good work Levis. Make way for the 505c (c is for customised).
“Born in 67, the 505 jean came of age in the 70’s new york. Punk, pop artists, graffiti writers and rock stars wore them, tore them and thrashed them. With a customized slim fit and straight leg, the new 505c is a cut for the next generation of icons” www.levis.com
The best bit is that they have named their denim 505 washes after icons of the NYC 70’s scene. Who can possibly resist a pair of jeans named Joey (Ramones), Atomic blue (Blondie) or Patti (Patti Smith)?? Bloody hell, just this fact alone makes me want a pair in all the washes!
505 Styles To Buy From Levis
Buying 505 vintage denim tips
If you are on a Vintage Levis denim mission then there are a few routes to try. Obviously you can try your luck at charity shops and thrift stores. Otherwise the online route could be eBay or Etsy. Consider Urban Outfitters, Reformation and Asos Marketplace as they also have a small selection of vintage denim to get your hands on.
Vintage Denim Shopping Considerations And Tips
- Greet the imperfections with open arms. If you are up for Vintage denim then you are up for some flaws, distress, wear and personality to them. These jeans have lived a life or two before you. The authenticity shines through those faded mark and rips. Love them hard!
- Vintage sizes are generally between 2-4 sizes bigger than modern-day ‘vanity’ sizing. Don’t go home crying into your Vodka if your usual size 29 turns out to be a vintage 33. Drink the bloody Vodka and wear the bloody jeans!
- Don’t trust the size label if you are buying online and unable to try on. The best bet is to compare the exact measurements to a pair of jeans you already own and love. Remember that vintage denim is non stretch 100% cotton.
- Remember to check both the Womens’ and Mens’ section for Vintage denim. After all, it’s ‘no vanity sizing’ territory. We’re just looking for good vintage denim!
- If searching online for vintage denim then be prepared to accept that a darker wash vintage jean is much harder to find than a pale lighter blue wash. However, I believe the lighter pale distressed wash with faded marks around the knees and pockets give it a distinct vintage look and feel. Bingo!
- Take them to a tailor if you need to perfect them. What if you find a bargain pair of vintage Levis for $10 at Value Village? they fit perfect in length and bum but are too big in the waist. Take them to a tailor!! if you bag a bargain, then don’t think twice about investing in some Tailoring fees to perfect the vintage denim that didn’t cost you $250 from L.A.
- Don’t be scared to hem them yourself. When I say this, I mean literally take the
kitchenscissors and hack off the hems. I personally love a raw edge hem. After a wash or two those jeans will boast the most perfectly frayed hems.
- Think about the top you are going to wear with your jeans. Vintage denim is higher waisted. This is the perfect chance to wear that slightly cropped top or to contrast the rough distressed denim with a luxe silk blouse. When you’ve worked hard on nailing your vintage denim then make the effort and think about the top you pair it with.
- If you are hell-bent on getting your hands on Vintage denim but are hard pushed for time with extra pocket-money, then consider approaching the vintage denim specialists, who make a living out of sourcing your ideal pair of distressed Levis. Urban Oitfitters, Reformation and Asos Marketplace are worth peeking at as they often have a small selection of good vintage denim. Done and dusted.
#OOTD – Outfit Of The Day
So, I’m hoping to track down and try on the relaunched Levi’s 505c, when I visit Toronto in a couple of weeks time. However, I’m still hunting down a pair of vintage 505’s in local vintage and thrift stores. (FYI, Canada has some amazing vintage stores) In the mean time, I thought I’d show you what my favourite Levi’s purchase has been this summer. So much love for this little A line Denim skirt. Thought I’d show you what I’m wearing today with it. Not that I would ever presume you are interested in any way, but as an avid blog reader, one of the best bits is seeing how fellow blogging peeps wear their wardrobe in real life. So here I am. Levis skirt and tank with a nice little flash of red with this bomber jacket. Off to work I go!
Wearing: H&M red satin bomber jacket (current), Levis A line denim button through skirt (current) H&M striped conscious cloth tank top, Adidas Stan Smith trainers.
Thanks for reading.