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.