Not surprisingly, one of the most interesting things I saw in Tokyo was an old pair of jeans from Levi’s at Pueblo. I’ve seen similar jeans like this before, but not specifically anything co-labeled like these 501s were. Judging from the detailing seen here, these jeans were made specifically for Brooks Brothers anywhere from 1937 to 1942. Pueblo’s owner and resident vintage hunter, Eiji Asakawa told me that before he found these specific jeans he has never seen another pair like them. I’m not a Levi’s vintage expert (though, full disclosure, we do work with Levi’s on several projects) I too have never seen or heard of jeans like these, which is pretty amazing thing to happen in San Francisco or Tokyo.
Natives of Kentucky, Matt & Carrie Eddmenson (nee Sights) both have denim in their blood. Between the two of them, they have worked with many (if not all) of the big names in the business. It’s a competitive world, the denim business, and one that Matt and Carrie have been able to navigate well. The husband and wife team have been more successful then they would probably be willing to acknowledge or admit — they’re humble people like that. A few short years ago the duo channeled all of their know-how and passion into Imogene + Willie — a denim brand and retail store all in one.
It took me a long time to get down to Nashville, but I finally did this past week. Accordingly, I made sure to stop by and chat with Carrie and Matt and the rest of the gang over Saturday morning coffee. Like most places in Tennessee, I was made to feel right at home and I quickly learned that there’s a big story at Imogene + Willie, a tale that is told better through this video than anything I can put together here.
The denim loving guys at Self Edge sent out an email this morning about their recently acquired almost-new Union Special 43200G chainstich machine. The lore of these Union Specials and their coveted status among denim-nerds is the stuff of legend — which makes the below story even more remarkable. No word as to how much coin the Self Edge guys paid for this thing (or where it came from, which is a better question), but I’m guessing it’s somewhere between a Submariner and a Royal Oak.
More on Self Edge’s new/old Union Special 43200G from the company’s blog:
If there is one machine in the current world of vintage style jeans that has the mystique of a fairly tale it’s the Union Special 43200G chainstitching machine. This is the machine the Japanese first scoured the world for starting in the 1980′s, they wanted them to place in their factories which reproduced vintage styles of American jeans from the 1950′s and before. It was a good twenty years until the rest of the world realized what was happening in Japan, by that time most of the 43200G machines had been bought up by the Japanese factories, brands, and retailers to put in their stores for in-store hemming.
As far as special products go, it was a natural for me to collaborate with Tellason on a special pair of jeans for the ACL Shop. We share similar perspectives when it comes to denim and more importantly we both possess a commitment to American manufacturing, especially when it comes to jeans.
I first met Tony Patella and Pete Searson, the founders of the brand, two years ago through a mutual friend. Tony and Pete have worked in the business for some time, but were just getting started with Tellason when our paths crossed. I was impressed with what they were doing with Tellason. It was around that same time that I interviewed Tony to help introduce Tellason to the ACL faithful.
Tucked away in an alley in Tokyo’s Aoyama neighborhood (a very fashionable part of town I might add) is the newish Levi’s Vintage Clothing store — one of the few places in the world that you can get all eight archival variations of the Levi’s 501 and a huge selection of the other normally reclusive LVC goods. This Levi’s Vintage Clothing store in Tokyo closely resembles the Cinch store I checked out in London this past spring, though the store in Japan is much much bigger. It has been a little more than a year since Maurizio Donadi was brought in to help reorganize the Levi’s premium business and these new LVC retail outposts are a clear reflection of Maurizio’s vision. Before Donadi was in the picture, LVC was sort of stuck in limbo between the Levi’s labyrinth of different offerings and retail stores. These days the collection is much more accessible (in terms of consumers being able to find the product), but the goods still carry a significant price tag. Though, I should say it is an understandable price structure given all that goes into the development and production (made in USA, etc) of the product.
Launching today — for all you denim loving patriots — at the Levi Strauss & Co. flagship store in San Francisco (Union Square) is the Levi’s Tailor Shop, a one-of-a-kind customization area with special goods and services. The LS&CO folks have outfitted the Tailor Shop with a chain stitch machine, an embroidery machine and a darning machine (for repairs or maybe just to get the repaired look). At the tailor shop you can also make your own buttons, choose vintage patches, screen print to fully customize your jeans.