Before Gianni Agnelli made them famous. Before they were imitated countless times over by countless brands. Before they were even called car shoes, there was just Giulio Miserocchi, an Italian cobbler in a tiny alpine village, who hand-sewed what would become the first ever driving moccasin. It was back in 1942 that Miserocchi completed his first shoe, a soft leather tie loafer atop a nubby rubber sole. The entire shoe was designed to make it easier on the wearer’s foot as the drove, so the supple upper and loose stitching were meant to help the shoe mold to your foot, while the texturized bottoms were intended to literally grip the pedals.
In 1915, Levi Strauss & Co. approached Greensboro, North Carolina’s Cone Mills about taking over as the main supplier of denim to the then 62 year old maker of riveted workwear. An agreement came together quickly and Cone gained the exclusive rights to manufacture Levi’s proprietary Shrink-to-Fit denim for the production of all Levi’s Lot 501 Jeans. This watershed moment in American denim history became known as “The Golden Handshake” and is a gentleman’s agreement that remains in place to this day.
To honor this historic century-long partnership between these two iconic American companies, Levi’s is releasing a special Levi’s Vintage Clothing collection made exclusively of Shrink-to-Fit denim made at Cone’s historic White Oak plant. We took a trip to Cone to see the process of making denim first hand and to get a better sense of exactly what makes The Golden Handshake so special.
The Levis Shrink-to-Fit denim continues to be produced at the Cone Mills’ White Oak plant in Greensboro, North Carolina using decades-old narrow selvedge looms. Thinking about how fickle business can be, it goes without saying that this longstanding partnership between Cone Mills and Levi Strauss & Co. is something truly unique. Looking back at the history of the two companies, it makes sense why these two specific companies would come together. When brothers Moses and Ceaser Cone founded the Cone Export & Commission Company in 1891 it was, in a way, similar to what Levi Strauss’s original San Francisco dry goods business had been prior to the invention of the riveted jean. In 1905, Cone established the White Oak mill (it’s named it after a 200-year old White Oak tree that stood near the site in Greensboro) and the company quickly rose to prominence as the foremost maker of denim in the world. During that same time Levi’s has become one of the most iconic American brands of all time, and the 501 undoubtedly the most significant item of apparel ever invented. In Greensboro Cone still makes Shrink-to-Fit 501 denim to the same high standards that it did when production started for Levi’s over a century ago.
After visiting Cone in North Carolina to see Levi’s Shrink-to-Fit denim being made, we chatted with Paul O’Neill, head designer of Levi’s Vintage Clothing at Levi Strauss & Co., about this historic partnership.
“For more than five centuries Winchester has molded tough-minded English gentlemen,” LIFE magazine wrote about one of the oldest public schools in the UK in 1951. While Winchester College in Hampshire, UK has never attained the the fame of Eton or Harrow, it is safe in the knowledge that having been founded in 1382 it is “older than almost all other public schools and the model for most of them.” For more than 500 years Winchester had been “helping to perpetuate a breed of Englishmen whose authoritative bearing and strait-laced espousal of ‘fair play’ have always set them aside as a public school product”. Winchester men call themselves Wykehamists, after their founder, William of Wykeham, Bishop of Winchester.
Until 1984 Wykehamists were also well known for their straw boaters, or “strats” which featured students’ house colors on the band, still sported by Old Wykehamists on Winchester Day. The term “public school”, confusing to Americans as it equates to private and boarding schools here, came about because schools like Winchester were originally established to educate poor scholars who could not afford private tutoring, with a smattering of noblemen’s sons for good measure. While some now take a public school education as a signifier of snobbery, as LIFE wrote, “To Winchester men the motto ‘Manners Makyth Man’ on the school coat of arms sums it up: rugged discipline and a sound education, not noble birth, determine a man’s stature.”
- The best dress shirts in the world. [T The New York Times]
- All aboard the famed Orient Express c.1950. [Daily Mail] [Pictured]
- An interesting look at the concept of first-come, first-served. [The Atlantic]
- How Hermès makes its iconic silk ties. [Bloomberg]
- The trick to finding the good gear at the Army Surplus store. [Outside]
Heir to both a Danish nobleman’s title and the vast Woolworth fortune by birth, Lance Reventlow had Cary Grant for a stepfather, a Bond Girl for a wife and James Dean for a best friend. The only child of heiress Barbara Hutton and her second husband, Count Kurt von Haugwitz-Hardenberg-Reventlow, he became a successful racing driver, race car constructor and entrepreneur before dying in a tragic airplane accident at the age of 36. Another of his stepfathers, Russian Prince Igor Troubetzkoy, had exposed him to the world of grand prix racing at a young age. Troubetzkoy, the first grand prix driver to compete in a Ferrari, won the 1948 Targa Florio at the wheel of a Ferrari 166 S. Reventlow was later determined equal the feat in an American car.
In the 1950s Reventlow set up Reventlow Automobiles Inc. (RAI) in Venice, California, to construct Chevrolet-powered race cars called Scarabs to go racing “for America” in grand prix competition. Chuck Daigh drove a Scarab to victory in the 1958 Riverside International Grand Prix in California, trouncing the likes of Ferrari and Maserati. Daigh and Reventlow himself drove two Formula 1 Scarab single-seaters in the 1960 F1 season, making their debut at the Monaco GP, though success proved more elusive. Nonetheless the dashing racers won fame as the world’s first all-American team of F1 cars, while Reventlow, who had just married Jill St. John – later to star as Tiffany Case in Diamonds Are Forever – captured the attention of the celebrity press.
The Cadillac Collection has a nice ring to it.
The soon-to-be-SoHo-based automaker (and standard-bearer for American Luxury) has emerged recently as a key supporter of American menswear. This new role is a refreshing development for designers, media, and now with this AW15 menswear collection — it’s turning out to be a great thing for all of us. Considering Cadillac’s sponsorship of the CFDA’s New York Fashion Week Men’s and the indie New York Men’s Day, the automaker has jumped into style space with both feet and it seems the world is a better place for it.
Launching later today in partnership with Gilt, Cadillac called in Nick Wooster and a cast of nine talented designers who make awesome clothes and rolled out what many would consider the ultimate fall wardrobe. And it comes with Wooster’s expert curation and what basically amounts to a fall style guide that lays out the best way to wear all these great fall clothes. This is win, win, win.
Having traveled far and wide to set up shop in London, Tokyo and Detroit, the Pop Up Flea our one-weekend shop is set to roll in Los Angeles on September 18th to 20th. With this being the first ever PUF in California we’ve selected an awesome outdoor location on the rooftop of The Grove as the venue. Over the past several months we have worked to pull together an impressive list of interesting brands that all contribute to making Pop Up Flea a can’t miss weekend. (If you are interested in participating, drop us a line via the ACL contact.) So if you expect to see a great selection of new, vintage, home, menswear and other objects you won’t be disappointed.
While it’s been fun having PUF events all over the world, it feels right to plant our flag in LA. More on the event specifics below and of course on the Pop Up Flea site. Other interesting things will be happening on the PUF Instagram, so follow along with everything there. If you live in LA, come by and say hello at our first ever LA pop up shop.
Pop Up Flea #PUFCAL | September. 18th, 19th & 20th | The Grove (Parking Structure Rooftop)