The Miniature World of Levi’s Vintage Clothing

Over the past few years I have had the good fortune of spending quite a bit of time with some very creative people, the two most influential (on me) being Mark McNairy and Maurizio Donadi. One thing that I have taken away from my time with these two gentlemen is, beyond possessing loads of experience in the business, that the two share an innate ability to see the world in simple yet totally unique ways. It is this creative thinking that never ceases to inspire me with the seemingly simple ideas that turn the world on its ear. Case in point: the Levi’s Vintage Clothing trade show booth for SS12.

Conceptualized by Donadi (with massive amounts of help from the whole LVC team; I should also point out that Levi’s is a client at Paul + Williams) the stand presents the entire LVC line as exact replica miniature versions. When I first saw the booth in Germany about a month ago, all I could do is smile and say to myself, “why didn’t I think of that.” Sometimes the most interesting bits of creativity come down to presenting the world in a simple yet otherwise overlooked way.

There was a wall of regular sized versions as well.

Comments on “The Miniature World of Levi’s Vintage Clothing

    Brian Davis on August 8, 2011 11:44 PM:

    Maurizio was one of the friendliest, most humble and inspiring folks I had the pleasure of meeting at the PUF last year. Certainly left a lasting impression and the clothes, flawless.

    Things Is Cool on August 9, 2011 1:26 AM:

    Definitely one of the more imaginative designs for a booth. Great stuff.

    anothergloriousbattle on August 9, 2011 4:12 AM:

    Those miniature denims are a beauty

    Alyce on August 9, 2011 6:57 AM:

    so cute. Reminds me of the Charles LeDray exhibit at the Whitney last year.

    David on August 9, 2011 9:12 AM:

    For the well-dressed, yet casual, garden gnome. ;)

    Billy Ray Valentine on August 9, 2011 9:21 AM:

    As a buyer this looks like a booth for kids clothes. I can appreciate the effort but when I walked past this booth for the first time I kept on going until I realized it was for grown ups. These smaller items will only look good in about 20 years in a Japanese magazine about vintage Levi’s just like the giant pairs of jeans that you see now from the 40s and 50s.
    They are spending to much time trying to be the old Levi’s rather than being the Levi’s that made them into what they were. It used to be make good clothes and the rest will follow. Now it’s living off of our heritage. I am not knocking Levi’s (I’ve got a pair on right now) but the industry as a whole. Look at RRL, they make excellent replicas of vintage clothes. Good quality and style but they are pretending to be cowboys. I have never scene RRL sponsor a rodeo or on farmhands, just on people that wouldn’t get their hands dirty. This is what I am talking about, it’s a facade. Everything now is for the hype or all sizzle and no steak.

    Michael Williams on August 9, 2011 9:43 AM:

    Billy Ray Valentine — isn’t living off the heritage the point of LVC?

    Billy Ray Valentine on August 9, 2011 10:50 AM:

    Michael – You are missing my point and that is my fault for not explaining myself properly and for that I apologize. First off I really like the LVC and similar examples from other brands. What I am talking about is the overall aesthetic and integrity of a brand. When you create a segment of your brand to lead the rest of your brand that is not genuine it will fail. It will hurt the whole brand overall and will place your brand further in a hole that you will have to dig out of. I am sorry if it seams like I am targeting Levi’s but I am not. I am talking about the industry as a whole. Thank you for letting me express myself on your website.

    Brandon on August 9, 2011 10:54 AM:


    Michael Williams on August 9, 2011 11:01 AM:

    BRV — I hear you. Generally things in this world are not as good now as they used to be, or that is what it seems like. I think RRL is great for what it is — a really good fake — and I think LVC is pretty fantastic in terms of premise and execution. But that is just me, others may disagree. And that is what makes horse racing I guess.

    In terms of the inspiration for the mini’s, I think it comes from the tiny jean samples that clothing salesmen used way back when rather than Charles LeDray.

    Kirk on August 9, 2011 11:06 AM:

    I think heritage clothing companies are exploiting an atavistic need by the consumer to be something they no longer are. That’s why they can sell hunting aprons to people who have never held a shotgun, or chore coats to people who don’t do any actual chores. Or 1947 replica jeans to people who weren’t alive then.

    Not knocking Levi’s or anyone else. Sales without proper marketing is a mug’s game, and exploiting desires and emotions is the desired outcome for all clothing companies. I would think. I also think there is room for Levi’s to sell to the mass market, as well as those who want to pretend they are Neal Cassady or a ranch hand.

    StriversRowUSA on August 9, 2011 12:04 PM:

    In my opinion it’s not fake or pretending to wear clothing that’s inspired by another era. If you take inspiration from a group of people from another time period, what’s wrong with paying homage to them with the way you dress? At Strivers Row we are inspired by the military, by hunting, and by sharecroppers, but that doesn’t mean we don’t recognize that we are blessed not to have to fight in wars, hunt for our food, or farm to pay off insurmountable debt. Our garments reflect the respect that we have for these people and pay homage to them.

    robbie on August 9, 2011 3:47 PM:

    Pretty sure I’ve read that Warehouse, or some other Japanese lifestyle brand did this 5-10 years before LVC started implementing in their boutiques.

    BRV – I hear you completely.

    jiheison on August 9, 2011 4:07 PM:

    How many people were out working the land in Levi’s 501s in the 40s and 50s? I’m sure it was more than there are now, but hadn’t Levi’s already taken to trading on nostalgia functional details that were no longer relevant to their primary audience? Levi’s has been trying to be the old Levi’s since the 19th century, and dressing in Levi’s to affect a rugged style is hardly a new phenomenon.

    Ye Ole General on August 9, 2011 4:36 PM:

    Miniatures are what salesmen used, back when salemen traveled, and went to each store in thier area. I have a salesman sample in my store that is over 50 years old. They are very cool.

    Gary on August 9, 2011 5:03 PM:

    I hear this a lot, “it’s just marketing”, which boils down to “people who wear vintage styled workwear are poseurs”.

    So if we can’t wear a freakin’ pair of jeans, what the hell are we supposed to wear, that would meet with approval? Are Dockers OK? Golf shirts? Aren’t we then “pretending” to play golf? Any clothing is inspired by other places and times, that’s what the language of clothing IS.

    So tell us, what’s the right choice? i’m genuinely curious here. Tell me what is the appropriate clothing to wear to my cubicle drone job.

    Hook on August 9, 2011 5:42 PM:

    If you’re wearing jeans, and you’re not a miner from the 19th century, then you’re a poseur…

    Just like all things in life…it’s not black and white.

    Kirk on August 9, 2011 6:58 PM:

    I would think if it meets with your approval, that would be the only approval that would matter.

    Poseur is a strong word, I think. Like Vonnegut says, we are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful what we pretend to be. That is different than being a poseur.

    I own a French-style constuector bike, even though I was not a Parisian paperboy in the 30s. But its plain elegance and handbuilt sturdiness appeals to me, and it’s awesome for fetching large quantities of wine. But its marketing was specifically calculated and designed to appeal to my need to be at some some romanticized place in time. I don’t see anything wrong with recognizing that fact.

    Billy Ray Valentine on August 9, 2011 7:00 PM:

    Gary – I like your answer. Let me see if I can explain my point a little better so there is no confusion. You can wear what you want in any fashion you want. What I am saying is that when a company stops moving forward and relies on their past to drive company there will eventually be a gap in growth. Levi’s is the leader in denim. Always has been. But when they stop innovating and just rely on their past it will hurt them. Lets say that Chevy or Ford or any other car company stops making advances in their technology and just recreates their old car models. It would be great in the beginning but then the other car companies would surpass them because they did not stick to what made that car company great in the first place.

    Strivers Row – I really like what you guys are putting out. But at the same time I feel you are letting the history of the real Striver’s Row speak for your clothes. You guys obviously really know how to make good quality clothes but I wouldn’t really know it because the emphasis is on Striver’s Row and not how well you guys make clothes. Please do not take this as an dis that is not what I am trying to do.
    What people are missing is the original feeling of the era. To be inspired is one thing, we are all inspired by the past. But the people of the past were looking towards the future and making things that were going to get them there. Imagine were we would be if the medical establishment did not advance.

    Billy Ray Valentinne on August 9, 2011 7:33 PM:

    I always try to be honest as possible, because it is my duty as a buyer to translate authenticity and integrity to my customers at all turns. I ate dead stock organic grains out of feedbags at field house, wrapped in vintage hudson bay, fingers adorned in turquoise, clutching my creased and tested field notes. Answered a call from Steve McQueens ghost in my dreams, visions stirred from my gut full of oxtail and pig feet, body stiff from my wool Pendleton cocoon. Walked my irish setter up the hill side, Red winged, cats paw delusions, I am a Freeman! Like Jim Thorpe before me, sporting club, stretched out on navajo and conjured a bit of Townes. I am Union Made, NRA birth mark, an engineered gent, you’ll hear the roar of the 650 Triumph in this post overall….

    Billy Ray Valentine on August 9, 2011 8:58 PM:

    Hey look at that. I was able to post something without even typing. At least the people of the past did not have to worry about identity theft.

    KENYAN on August 9, 2011 9:52 PM:

    Mister Billy Ray Valentine or is it Valentinne……What’s the name of your Blog?

    Andrea on August 10, 2011 1:03 AM:

    So…steering the conversation back to the tiny little clothes for a moment. I would rank this somewhere between twee and creepy, though I do like the idea of taking the concept of salesmen’s samples and running with it. I’m just not sure this display got the harmonics right, if you know what I mean.

    And just to give you youngsters a sense of perspective, 501s were considered wicked cool at my small (non-agricultural) high school in 1974, when I bought my 1st pair for $8.99. Even then, we 16 year old kids knew we were really ripping off James Dean.

    Those damned little clothes are going to give me nightmares, I can tell.

    Sir Arthur on August 10, 2011 10:53 AM:

    BRV – I’ll take an old Chevy or Ford any day over the crap they’ve put out in the past 40 years. Novelty does not equal Improvement. Same goes for jeans.

    DmC on August 10, 2011 11:21 AM:

    Levis and other 19th century workwear brands were so functional and of such high quality that they eventually slid into other segments of peoples lives. Nostalgia is only one reason Levis are so popular and successful. LVC is not the only thing Levis does. Every so often they do some cool things with their other lines. I’m not cheerleading, just pointing out that maybe they’re not a lost cause.

    RaysnCayne on August 10, 2011 11:31 AM:

    While the idea of miniaturizing the clothes is great for being able to pack lots of displays into a small space, my immediate impression (like others) is that this was for a kids line of clothing. Kind of takes the hip, adult edge off the brand IMO.

    Also, did they proportionally scale down the shirt patterns to do this? Looks like they may have. That’s pretty impressive to me in its own right.

    Winthrop on August 10, 2011 2:35 PM:

    To use your Chevy analogy BRV, what denim advancenment technology can you inform us of that improves quality? Since you’re a buyer, I think you should be more aware of market segmentation and the roles certain companies play. Levi’s as a company is diverse and innovating–Made and Crafted. Also, perhaps you should address the ability for consumers to purchase clothing all over the world through the internet and how the notion of “era” may not exist in its past form. We can be from any era now, far more easily than before, and what you’re seeing is the refinement of influence–there is simply more in-depth access to information.

    ramirez on August 10, 2011 8:22 PM:

    tha old vintage clothing argument rises again.
    there is nothing new under the sun, and “vintage” styles come back around and around.

    LVC and RRL is not even CLOSE to being a fad since clothing companies have been rehashing things since we as a country have existed. I could name the favored vintage style for each decade going back to the 1920s but am so bored with this argument.
    the “new” stuff that comes out each decade are typically looked back on as a joke, bell bottoms, leisure suits, nehru jackets, etc. Classic style always looks good, that’s why it is so frequently rehashed.

    Levis regular fare is straight GARBAGE. LVC is the only good thing that company has done since the 1980s, and if it’s not RRL, then purple label is the only good thing about Ralph Lauren.

    quit hatin

    jason on August 10, 2011 10:10 PM:

    AG Jeans has been making miniature jeans (for sale, and for decoration) for years now.

    Noah on August 10, 2011 11:21 PM:

    Ha, those mini clothes are pretty awesome. Next they’ll make dolls to put in them so urban lumber jacks can carry around their own mini me.

    JP on August 11, 2011 12:06 AM:

    I would expect no less.

    Logan on August 11, 2011 4:06 AM:

    Strange, I did not pick up on any kids clothing line vibe emanating from these miniatures, but seeing as how my mind went immediately to the miniatures of Théâtre de la Mode, I suppose I have no claim to a tenable reading. Although, while I’m on the topic of curious artifacts from fashion’s history, I imagine these Levi’s miniatures will have more than enough value to look good in more contexts than just “a Japanese magazine about vintage Levi’s” in twenty years. (These miniatures don’t come with the added bonus of having saved Parisian couturier, but I imagine denim has enough cultural inertia as is.)

    Logan on August 11, 2011 4:10 AM:

    And it’s cute that Noah has never heard of Buddy Lee.

    Ed on August 11, 2011 7:43 PM:

    Hi BRV. I can see where you’re getting hung up on Levi’s Vintage Clothing, but I think your criticisms of it hinge on a misconception. You argue that ‘when (Levi’s) stop innovating and just rely on their past it will hurt them.’ I agree with you, and this is indisputable. However, LVC is a small brand operating as a relatively minor subsidiary of Levi’s. Whilst the Red Tab line clearly draws on it’s past as an inspiration whilst designing forthcoming seasons, it gets nowhere near to the kind of precision reproduction undertaken by LVC. I think that Levi’s is in no danger of stopping it’s attempts to innovate (look at Curve ID, for example), and that LVC is simply a great part of the brand reproducing some of the company’s most iconic and timeless garments.

    And frankly, Levi’s jeans manufactured after 1900 are virtually all a five pocket jean. I can’t see them removing the watch pocket after over 100 years since it’s lasted this long, and who uses a fuckin’ pocket watch nowadays? Innovate all you like, some things never change!

    Jonas on August 12, 2011 12:39 AM:

    Personally, I think BRV is missing the point. As a “buyer”, I would assume it’s his job to find the latest and greatest thing. Right? I remember when I was a kid back in the 80’s and acid wash denim cargo pants were the latest and greatest. Uggh.
    I think it’s not about “whats old is new” I think it’s about what works time after time without all the doo-dads and gee-gaws. People are starting to wise up a generally recognize and respect quality built and durable goods.
    I have a pair of Danner boots that are 20 yeas old now and on the second set of re-treads. I just sent a 15+ year old Ranger pack from London Bridge Trading (Va. Beach) in to be rebuilt, and they are going to do it just for the cost of shipping.
    I collect trucks from the 40’s and 50’s. I find it fascinating that on the head of a Willys Jeep engine, there is tune-up information CAST on to the surface. They actually expect the end user to be able to adjust the valves on their vehicle. Not only it that unthinkable with the cars and trucks of today, but it is discouraged by the manufacturer.

    KENYAN on August 12, 2011 11:06 AM:

    This is what we need to be chatting about, ( Talking about clothing bores me )…Thanks Jonas for the Truck mention.


    NATE on August 12, 2011 2:58 PM:

    My Hamster would love to rep this line

    jbourbonjones on August 12, 2011 3:47 PM:
    Tim on August 12, 2011 6:23 PM:

    Miniture anything, for some odd reason, is really cool. There is nothing that screams “kid” booth to me because it is far to small for even a newborn to fit in those jeans! Great post and great company.

    Noah on August 14, 2011 4:24 PM:


    Looked up Buddy Lee… What in the world?

    John on August 14, 2011 8:46 PM:

    I have a few pairs of LVC jeans. I was shocked to find that the 501 1947XX I bought are made in Turkey not the U.S like my 505’s.

    I know there not fake as the shop I bought them from is capable.

    In some way a feel cheated!

    Sarah on August 17, 2011 1:23 AM:

    I’m obsessed with this! So creative and wish I’d thought of it first!

    Ax on September 5, 2011 2:54 AM:

    “I can’t see them removing the watch pocket after over 100 years since it’s lasted this long, and who uses a fuckin’ pocket watch nowadays?”
    Ed, I use the watch pocket for my motorcycle key.

Comments are closed.