March 08, 1992|By Lita Solis-Cohen | Lita Solis-Cohen,Solis-Cohen Enterprises
“George Bush went to Japan to advertise cars, but he would accept done bigger if had gone to advertise jeans,” claims Danny Eskenazi, who sells best denim from his Seattle boutique alleged Jack Hammer and by buzz at (800) BUY-501S. His best barter are Japanese.
“Japanese tourists appear actuality and buy never-worn jeans from the 1950s and ’60s,” he said. “They amount $200 to $400 a pair.” In Japan, best denim pants accept awash for added than $1,000 and denim jackets for over $2,000. Best denim agency fabricated afore 1971. It’s a fashionable all-embracing collectible, and best of the suppliers are on the West Coast. Japanese collectors are connoisseurs: They adopt Levi’s, but Wranglers and Lees will do.
The coursing for best denim is unconventional. Dealers adjust the country for “new old stock” — unworn assortment begin in old food — which command a premium. “I canvassed a alien allotment of Montana aftermost summer, and best food I alleged said the Japanese had been there already,” Mr. Eskenazi said. Jos Jansen, who oversees licensing for Wrangler, recalled one Japanese aggregation endlessly a man on the artery and advantageous $200 for the denim anorak he was wearing. “He could get bristles times that for it in Tokyo,” Mr. Jansen said.
If you buzz the Levi Strauss Co.’s San Francisco address and ask how to analyze old Levis from new ones, you’re told to alarm dealers such as Jeff Spielberg in Santa Monica at (800) 666-LEVI.
“Collecting jeans was my hobby; now it’s my trade,” said Mr. Spielberg, a TV scriptwriter who claims to accept the better best denim accumulating in clandestine hands. He buys by buzz nationwide.
Mr. Spielberg acclaimed that Japanese beneficiary absorption is accident arena to the preppy look; prices in Japan accept alone 25 percent to 60 percent from their aerial a year ago, aback best denim jackets fetched as abundant as $4,000. But don’t despair, you haven’t absent your adventitious to banknote in Dad’s old clothes. Mr. Spielberg said bags of collectors abide in Japan, and affluence of others are in Germany and Italy — alike a adeptness few in the U.S.
What’s the attraction? Genuine old denim has the acidity and feel of the Old West; it’s a classic, ample American product, one of our best arresting icons. The Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., has absolutely a accoutrement of jeans.
Jeans additionally are an American success story. German immigrant Levi Strauss (1829-1902) acclimatized in San Francisco in 1853 and supplied dry appurtenances and t to gold miners, loggers, farmers and cowboys. In his backward 20s, Strauss alien the athletic pants that eventually adapted his business into the world’s better accoutrement company. The exact date Levi’s were built-in is unknown; what annal existed were destroyed in the 1906 San Francisco earthquake. (The name “Levi’s” is a registered brand of the Levi Strauss Co.) Levi’s actual benchmarks accommodate the admission of its Two Horse Brand covering waistband application (1886), lot cardinal 501 (1890s), and belt loops (1922) — suspenders were acclimated afore then.
Collectors can atom best Levis at a ambit by their affluent dejected color, but the aboriginal absolute affidavit is on the trademarked little red tab on the aback appropriate abridged of pants and on the appropriate bend of the larboard abridged of jackets. The tab aboriginal appeared in 1936. “LEVI’S” was accounting on the tab in basic belletrist until about 1971, and thereafter a lower case e was used.
The attendance and adjustment of rivets advice actuate the age of Levis and accommodate some of the field’s best folklore. According to the firm, Strauss patented the strength-adding captivate in 1873. Early Levis accept rivets in the top corners of the aback pockets (some of the ancient additionally had a captivate at the crotch). In the 1930s consumers objected to the aback rivets. “It was the upholstery on their new cars that got snagged,” said Mr. Spielberg, calumniating the adaptation that claims cowboys complained about aback rivets accident their saddles. Whatever the reason, the aback rivets were covered in 1937 and aished by the backward 1960s .
A adventure about cowboys abating themselves by the blaze until their rivets got hot is apocryphal, according to Mr. Spielberg, but the Levi Strauss Co. gives it acceptance in a brochure. What isn’t myth, he said, were the complaints the aggregation accustomed aback it alien zippers in 1955. Mr. Spielberg said one adolescent wrote “that it was like peeing through the aperture of an alligator.” Collectors pay a exceptional for best on-fly Levi’s 501s.
Another indicator of age is the attendance of baby straps and buckles to bind the waists of pants and jackets. Experts said the pecking adjustment for denim jackets is Levi’s, Lee, again Wrangler. Best Wrangler jackets are accessible to spot; they accept a dejected alarm badge on the label. Best Lees say “Union Made” at the top of their label. If a Levi’s anorak has silver-colored ons, it’s from the ’60s or earlier. Fewer jackets than pants were made, but added survive.
Size is a agency in free value. Mr. Eskenazi pays a exceptional for sizes 28 through 32 because they fit his Japanese customers. Mr. Spielberg will buy best sizes except “Farmer John’s” — a 42-inch waist with 30-inch legs.
Don’t discount old denim announcement banners and figurines. Today ample Levi’s signs retail from a brace of hundred dollars to as abundant as $1,000.
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