Tuesday, October 06, 2009

LVC.JP 506

A few days ago the many boxes of books and clothes I couldn't fit in my luggage when returning home arrived and among the things were a 506 denim jacket from Levi's Vintage Clothing Japan. I looked long and hard for a denim jacket and this one is exactly what I wanted; a simplified Type 1 jacket from the WWII era, a very small size so that I can wear it almost like a shirt and look almost like a cowboy, a great dark and tightly woven denim and stitching that looks like it was done with a vintage machine.

That's not to say it's perfect for it isn't--the red tab has LEVI'S written on both sides when it shouldn't(the tab was single-sided until 1951) and the leather tab is probably not made from the correct type of leather, but it's still the best jacket I've found.
At first I thought that the buttons were off too; I thought they should be of the donut type which was commonly used during this time and that there should be one more of them. That was until I saw an original at Fake Alpha in Harajuku, which is one of the best stores for vintage denim in Tokyo and Japan.
The type and number of buttons is spot on, as is the denim, which is perhaps the most important thing. I'm guessing the reproduced jacket is made with a jacket from the early years of the war, before they hadn't gotten as far as using another type of button, just reduce the number of them and remove the pocket flap.
I'm also guessing this is the reason why the tag only says '506' without the 'S' for Simplified. I do however believe that it should say 'XX' and that it's a mistake that it doesn't.

Another thing that I've been pondering is the relationship between Levi's EU/US and Levi's Japan. It seems to me that there isn't any at all, that the Japanese branch is in fact another company producing clothes under a license from Levi's EU/US.
A funny anecdote I heard, which might just be an untrue rumor, is that when Levi's Japan has first been established, they only had the rights to use the "Levi's" trademark but not the '501' trademark so they called their jeans something else, like 5-01.

Tag shrinkage after three washes

Anyway, the licensing part would help explain why the LVC collection in Japan looks quite different from the collection here. The years and models produced are largely the same, but with a few more odd ones issued as limited editions, but they are certainly based on different originals as the '37, '47, '55 etc. all look different then they do in the EU collection.
They also use a different denim. Except for small percentage of the limited editions that are Cone denim, it's all denim made in Japan. It's funny that they have decided to use Cone denim, because I find that the Japanese denim is usually more true to the original in texture and color. In fact, I avoid the models from 1927 and on, which are made with Cone denim, nowdays and prefer the earlier years that are made with denim from Japan.
I hate to hype Japan because it's not The Promised Land and not everything is better there, but they DO put more effort into many things, including denim, which is why they have the best restaurants, designers, make the best reproductions etc. in the world.
However, it cannot be said to often that while the best denim is from Japan, not all denim from Japan is good.


Mark said...

Thank you very much for sharing your insight. Your posts are becoming far and few in between but the content is always very strong and substantial. Take care.

Anonymous said...

What Mark said.

blueblood said...

Great post !
you said that its not the right kind of leather and that the tab should be single side printed.

do you know why this is ? is it a mistake in fabrication or did someone replace them afterwards... ?

spacelounge said...

Hi! Thanks for your feedback. It means a lot to me!

Blueblood, this is a jacket from the early years of LVC JP and it's simply that they made mistakes when making it.
Think of it, when you're replicating something like this there are just so many little details that you have to get right, so it really becomes a process of trial and error before you have a full set of specific details for every garment and every year.
With this jacket, I'm just so happy with the cut and denim that it's enough.
Nowdays, LVC JP is mostly spot on.
But they and the EU branch still make occasional mistakes.

blueblood said...

thanks for your reply. keep up the good work.

Matt said...

Great jacket...have the same one!

Anonymous said...

more updates!!! im being starved of denim goodness!

PAPA NUI said...

The three Levi Divisions US/EUROPE/JAPAN are of course under the same umbrella company, they are not different at all. What is different is the markets they are servicing. Levi's USA has always struggled as the market there can't accept Levis as being anything but another work wear brand solf through mom and pop stores, where as in Europe and Japan, Levis are seen as a premium brand and they can charge contemporary denim prices for these. Japan initiated their own LVC line many many years ago based on their own intense interest in Vintage and it is only in the last decade or so that the Levis parent company has taken the idea and created the LVC line based of the sucess of the local market in Japan. Europe also had a large hand in the development of the LVC product as they are obviously much more switched on than the USA. Its all really just driven by market forces and brand image. The unfortuante thing in all of this is that Levis with its unique stranglehold on the heritage of denim failed so miserably to capitalise on the new era of denim appreciation, instead they pandered to their shareholders and seasonal fast fashion and quick profits and forgot about the longeity of what they had originally created. Truth is that now there is a dozen smaller boutique brands that just do a better job at it in everyway, from their research to their denim and sundry selection and also their overall quality.As a longtime Levis fan it pains me no end at times to see how they've just missed the boat.

Buy Cialis said...

I hate these jackets, but I feel so comfortable in them, I mean it ... I feel a little guilty about!

www.teresaestevez.com said...

I suppose one and all should browse on it.

panoramicgenius said...

'Buy Cialis'. Right. My denim is stiff enough.

Why the hell would you wear -- and presumedly have purchased -- a jacket the style of which you hate? For the guilty pleasure of a comfortable fit? I wouldn't wear a department-store-special, an overpriced vintage replica or a ridiculously expensive bespoke garment if I didn't like it, even if it were a gift.

ANYWAY, I primarily wanted to leave a response relative to PAPA NUI's comment: I'm by no means an expert, but I absolutely agree that Levi's failed its stateside customers. I'd be remiss in not mentioning the devestation suffered by their former American laborers. 'Shrink-to-fit' took on a new meaning. Levi Strauss has certainly marched in mass exodus alongside an alarming number of 'American' companies which made their deals with the Devil.

I've read statements from Levi's company spokespersons, and their words are essentially spin-doctored rhetoric: Levi's matter-of-factly and rather unapologetically excuses itself for divesting its own brand of its iconic heritage. The 'Signature' collection? I'm not even at ease with that lackluster Wal-Mart line being made offshore, but making LVC pieces anywhere but in America should be at some level criminal. Is nothing sacred anymore?

L.S.& Co. cries about American labor costs, and even opines America's 'lack' of qualified craftspeople, yet a pair of fucking Turkish-made jeans will still sell for well over $200, just because they're LVC. Morons -- albeit generally nice ones with a respectable penchant for quality denim -- will pay what is demanded.

True Denim fans are loyal, dyed-in-the-cotton purists. I've been around long enough to have broken in a few pairs of 'real', sandpapery Levi's back in the late 70s and ealy 80s, but I'm behind the curve with the modern craze. I want vintage, not 'instant vintage -- just add money!' Only time can yield that distinction and character. Perhaps I shouldn't balk at the prices of quality indigo being made today. The decades-old jacket which I yearn for now was once a crisp new acquisition for someone, and LVC reproductions are 'real' Levi's and will be true vintage finds in a couple of decades.

Might I buy an LVC jacket? Tempting, for certain. I'd like an original, but I've seen museum-grade pieces on eBay for $4,500. That's clearly more daunting than the price of a reproduction, yet the very point of the matter is that there is a difference between wine that is aged on the truck and fine vintages that are cellared for years. If a seven-dollar bottle of vino proves to command an oenophile's price of $11,000 seventy-five years after it's corked because it's lot was found to be exquisite, that's great -- but it has to earn that reputation and perceived value. I can embrace the zeitgeist, but no design house's denim is remarkable enough to warrant the prices they are setting for their goods. A Mickey Mantle rookie card was gleaned from a 15-cent pack of gum.

panoramicgenius said...

I forgot to mention that the average kid who found a Mickey Mantle rookie card was very likely wearing a twelve-dollar pair of 501's at the time. : ]