Levi's Vintage Clothing Makes Its Way to Modern Day Manila

Exactly 150 years since a groundbreaking Levi’s patent.

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It’s been 150 years since Levi Strauss and Jacob Davis secured their patent for those copper rivets you see on your denim jeans. “An Improvement in Fastening Pocket Openings” was patented by the two on May 20, 1873 and the rest is literally fashion history for the legendary denim brand. 

To celebrate this sesquicentennial, Levi’s dug deep into its archives for a very special collection. Fits, fabrics, and details of iconic pieces from the 1930s to the 1960s are recrafted using premium selvedge denim sourced from the Kaihara Mill in Japan for Levi’s Vintage Clothing.


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Somewhere safely hidden inside a vault at Levi’s headquarters in San Francisco is an archive of over 20,000 rare samples of the brand’s clothing and artifacts that date back to as early as the brand’s year zero. The Levi’s Historian (yes, we’re not even making this stuff up) is tasked to keep the specimens protected by wrapping them in unbleached cotton and making sure they’re kept at a specific temperature, only to be used exclusively by the Levi’s Vintage Clothing team. The designers study these archives so they can bring them back to the present through faithful reproductions that are just as fresh as when they first came out back in the day.

Photo by Levi's.

Levi’s Vintage Clothing’s new collection is more than just great looking denim pieces. Each one takes us back in time and tells some very interesting stories generations later. 

During World War II, for example, Levi’s contributed to the war effort by removing unnecessary metal and thread in its 501s. The familiar watch pocket rivets and cinch-back had to be removed. The arcuate stitch also had to be replaced with a painted-on one.

The collection’s 1947 501 is a tribute to the post-war return of these elements on a more modern-fitting pair of jeans that transitioned the 501 from workwear to fashion icon. It now comes in 12oz Shrink-to-Fit selvedge denim with two back pockets with concealed rivets, a big “E” single sided Red Tab, a “Two Horse” leather patch, twin-needle arcuate, and watch pocket rivets. 

Photo by Levi's.
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When the brand expanded to the East Coast from Northern California in the mid-50s, the 501’s iconic button fly had to adjust to the new market that was more used to wearing pants with a zipper fly. The result was the 501 z. This year’s iteration recreates the 1954 zip fly 501 with Japanese selvedge denim and classic details.

“Anti-fit” came from Hollywood and the biker era with 1950s movie stars like Marlon Brando, giving the 501s a boost in popularity. The jeans were “anti-fit” in the seat, had a slightly fuller cut around the leg, and had a boxier silhouette. This was also when the leather-like paper patch with two horses first made its debut on the backside of the 501s. These all make a return in the 2023 version of the 1955 501.

Photo by Levi's.

The Levi’s Vintage Clothing collection also features a pre-shrunk classic slim-fitting 1967 505 inspired by hippie fashion of the Bay Area’s Summer of Love era as well as the 1936 Type I and 1953 Type II jackets.


By the way, don’t forget the time-tested rituals you need to put your Shrink-to-Fit denim through to get that right fit. Each pair will shrink and skew differently depending on the temperature and method you choose. Wash them or wear them in the tub so they shrink to your size. Or don’t wash them.

The Levi’s Vintage Collection is available at Levi’s SM Mall of Asia, The Signet Store, Rockwell and on levi.com.ph.

Links are updated regularly and as much as possible, but note that products can run out of stock, discounts can expire, and listed prices can change without prior notice.

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Mikko Abello
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