MY ARCHIVES: Cool Cuts

Cool tailoring takes denim into high style and catwalk fashion.   Since the development of denim processes that minimise fabric shrinkage we are now able to style jackets and jeans such that they do not distort when cleaned or washed.

Some many years ago Levi created some ultra cool off beat shapes in the "collectibles" Asia collection.  Beautiful shaped panelling, over stitching and big accessory details. Completed with red selvedge greenish indigo from a local Asia source.  What a pity it ceased - maybe they might consider a revival and share with the rest of the World!   

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Osklen's dropped crotch harem jeans look ugly but are super flattering.  The denim has comfort stretch and has a slight green cast due to the laundry tint. I am still not personally loving the ankle zip it renders the garment a bit too tricksy whilst the shape is not that at all.

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The masculine shaped Levi Red jean from many years back - for brave women - is a super rich green cast with an ultra high back and dipped front completed with side darts.  The Levi Red super swoop pocket stitching needs the massive back pocket. Pity they didn't use red selvedge denim as well!

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Remember the Levi twisted jean from the 1990's?  An icon that disappeared all too soon - taken out of the EU collection all too quickly. The denim was linen cotton with no stretch. It would have been enhanced with a little comfort.  The side seams were twisted and shaped into the dipped front ankle with the waist being high at the back and lower at the front.  A truly ground breaking original design from a Dutch product design company, which put Levi on the fashion denim map at that time.

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The M+F Girbaud "skirt belt" is another super creative use of denim.  Wear it over anything and everything which brings denim into every part of the wardrobe.  The cool detailing  and clever shaping makes it a really exciting garment to have at my disposal.   Additionally, every part of the tiny garment takes a vintage wash giving it even more attitude.

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MY ARCHIVES: Utility

Workstyle is integral with vintage given that the fist jeans were worn by both railroad workers and cowboys - both for heavy duty work.

The violet blue worker jacket is a real vintage item that i still wear when the mood takes me.  The flapped pockets and collarless style have a charm enhanced by the oddly restored cuffs- one contrast blue and the other missing and frayed.

My Kapital work shirt - not vintage but it is from the stable of super Japanese style.  Extreme dark crisp denim with white top stitching - a truly classic piece. Works with non denim clothing to add denim to everything.

 

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My G Star work style jeans whilst not old are a real favourite. The shape is great enhanced by  braces attached by original button carriers.  Additionally the denim fabric works in harmony with the renowned  G Star washing.

In combo with the AG little work jacket in a new indigo dobby basket weave the two make a real statement.  This jacket has 3 small flap pockets with the 4th being "blind".    Here is another item that works just as well with non denim clothing - avoiding the double denim look.

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Almost military style worker jacket with patch and flapped pockets, epaulettes and super practical side pockets. Heavy wear laundry treatment makes it soft and even more desirable.  There is no shame in loving a contemporary piece of "vintage workwear".  This time from Current Elliott.  Not a brand usually associated with the best of vintage but sometimes they can surprise.

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Diesel - an old favourite in brand terms and for specific items.  All my Diesel jeans are men's.  They demonstrate such attention to detail in fabric, cut and laundry they cannot be overlooked by a denim head.    These are the most comfy and flattering baggy jeans i own. Dropped crotch, perfect styling and superbly creative washing.  The look is old workwear but the reality is contemporary jeans style.

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MY ARCHIVES: Vintage

Vintage is and has been the driver for denim fabric and jeans ever since the middle of last century. It took a long time for denim jeans to break free from the original work ethic garments to become something more stylish.  However, it was and is the fabric that earned the name vintage in the beginning combined with the accessory detailing.

Since then all jeans brands have emulated the "vintage " look by replicating the old shade and fabric character as well as the garment details.  Some more renowned than others.   The simplest way of emulation is of course in the laundry - replicating the worn out appearance with complex laundry techniques.

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PRPS jeans here demonstrate their successful attempts at not only washing their jeans in a most authentic way but also using fabric from Japan.  The denim in the early incarnation of the brand was woven in Japan from cotton dyed with natural indigo dyes.  Difficult to find and difficult to process.   Natural indigo's adherence to the cotton as host is not permanent so the wash down became easy to replicate the vintage appeal. The first fabric was an amazing natural cross hatch heavy weight denim for men which as it washed down became better and better. The indigo lifting off the reveal the old style construction.

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This Old Japanese kimono re-worked demonstrates the combo of fragile indigo striped cotton and denim gauze. This item is almost impossible to wear being too fragile. But i occasionally succumb to temptation however, its better to hang as display. Still in Japan the Evisu jeans brand has become iconic.  Less popular here in Europe than in Asia. I love the tongue in cheek take off of the Levi name and logo.  After ( i believe) unsuccessful court cases it thankfully still exists. Super creative yet staying true to the vintage ethic both denim and accessories in the Evisu collection are vintage replicas whilst the shape is more modern to fit what our bodies and lifestyles have become.

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Levi Capital E items both jacket and jeans seen here, can still be found if you are lucky enough but at a seriously high price.  They are now collectors items.  So when you wear them don't leave them at the coat check.  

The iconic details is what we love the garment for:  front tucking; Capital E on the tag; ring ring old yarn denim; seam puckering and mottled denim surface; red selvedge seams and pocket details.  And of course still being able to wear a pair of jeans or jacket that is maybe 100 years old! 

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The natural worn in worn out effects in the Cap E jean makes them especially lovely to wear.  Even if the wear creases and rips are in the shape of the previous owner!

You can see here the superb old denim fabric, slightly crinkling with age and constant washing and seam pucker details with the front tucking that make such a garment a true icon.

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My Fiorucci skirt is a really old favourite. Made from even older distressed and recycled denim panels, revived with plastic and ceramic craft beading.  The piecing and patching of pre-worn jeans pieces helps to create the romance enhancing its desirability.  Made in the 1960's yet it is just as relevant today.

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Re-worked vintage denim jacket. Creative licence has been taken in re-working such and old piece.  Even though the appliqué and embroidery are of now as is the sleeve fringing the result is a grand replica of western decorated denims.  And it fits!

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MY ARCHIVES OVERVIEW

Being a natural squirrel has helped over the years in my quest for the best denims both old and not so old.   I have hoarded so much from all over the World, over my many years in denim that to choose the best is hard.  Being a denim fabric head draws me to the denim first, style second.   But for me the most successful are those pieces where the denim and the shape work in harmony. So here I share my archive edit of pieces significant by their detail; the denim fabric; their shape; their shade and their aged worn effects.

What is wonderful about being a blue human in the 21st century is the lack of inhibition in dressing without censure.  This has enabled us all to be free of dress codes to be who we want in terms of our personal expression to the outside World which in denim dressing is as exciting as it gets.   

The iconic brilliant indigo blue resulting from multiple washes is a truly special colour. It has an enduring romance like no other colour.  But that is a longer story. The pretty bright blue is here combined with random rips and tears in this Paige oversized shirt.  No so old but nonetheless a great easy piece. This tiny "skirt belt" is an example of creative thinking from M+F Girbaud from around 20 years ago.   Along with Osklen from Brazil dropped crotch riding jeans in tinted green casted indigo they are both examples of good denim and cutting.

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Icons such as the Cap E Levi jean jacket have always held a romantic attachment for me. Not only for the tucked front detail but also for the old ring denim - nothing like it !!   Combined with the high low contrast at the twin needle seams makes for the most special garment ever.

Natural Indigo is what drove the acquisition of both the Geo Trowark oversized chunky knit and the Japanese work bag, complete with rips and repairs = lots of memories.

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Clever cutting and creative stitch details were what Levis were doing for their Red collection in the Far East way back in the early part of this century.  What a pity such items of beautiful design did not stay long in their offering.

My Fiorucci vintage skirt is a real treasure from the 1960's evocative of the Kensington Market and Biba era, the hippie beading and recycled denim panels combine to make the heart flutter.  So sad it no longer fits!!

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Overdyed original workshirt in indigo herringbone.  Simple function at its soft best.

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Combine MiH huge cuffed ripped and Shibori decorated Phoebe jeans with Free People's crazy Mexican western boots.

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The right details will sell a garment any time.  From the back buckled Cap E Levi jacket; to the contrast cuffs on the work jacket; giant button and edge stitching features on the Levi Red jacket; oversized back pockets and true green shade on these Levi Red jeans; Original vintage work style jeans. 

AROUND THE EDGES Fastenings, waists and fringing

 Denim style has come a long way from the original button fly and riveted pockets of the 1800's dustbowl denim jeans.

 Images from DSQUARED2 online store | Photograph of burned denim from the book "My Archive 3" by Antonio Di Battista  

Images from DSQUARED2 online store | Photograph of burned denim from the book "My Archive 3" by Antonio Di Battista  

Crazy slanted zipper experiment as a fashion denim gender neutral statement.  Classic button down wrangler pocketing.  Degradation taken to extreme levels of focus onto the fly.

 

 Images from left to right: Fringe jacket from MSGM,  studded black denim from TOPMAN, SLANDY ANKLE Denim from Diesel and FLIP E Denim from Diesel. Background image by Ela Stipicic 

Images from left to right: Fringe jacket from MSGM,  studded black denim from TOPMAN, SLANDY ANKLE Denim from Diesel and FLIP E Denim from Diesel. Background image by Ela Stipicic 

Fringing and fraying are interesting style features on back yokes, waists.  Together with fancy studding and side seam raw edging the look is distinctly western in flavour.

 Top left corner: FLIP jeans by Diesel | Bottom left corner: Philip Plein Stop me Fluo denim (Farfetch) | Center: KROOLEY JOGGJEANS by Diesel | Top right corner: NARROT by Diesel | Bottom right corner: DSQUARED2: Light Easy Cool Girl Jeans 

Top left corner: FLIP jeans by Diesel | Bottom left corner: Philip Plein Stop me Fluo denim (Farfetch) | Center: KROOLEY JOGGJEANS by Diesel | Top right corner: NARROT by Diesel | Bottom right corner: DSQUARED2: Light Easy Cool Girl Jeans 

Tied waists; external buttons at the fly; frills and fun embroidery detail at the fly all add fun detailing to classic blue denim jeans.

AROUND THE EDGES Hems and Seams

Ragged fraying is not new to denim alone. Intentional fraying adds edge interest to raw natural muslins in this art installation by Bruce Chatwin. 

 Background image by Bruce Chatwin from the book: "Photographs and Notebooks" | Front images from the book: My Archives 2 by Antonio Di Battista 

Background image by Bruce Chatwin from the book: "Photographs and Notebooks" | Front images from the book: My Archives 2 by Antonio Di Battista 

Plaid lined jeans call out for rolled cuffs giving emphasis to the hem.  Likewise the pocket edges are rolled into plaid cottons. Further benefitting from a bit of degradation to give the impression of age.

 Background image by Ela Stipicic | Images from left to right: Japanese Farmer Kimono (1980), depression era damage and right image from the book "Worn (2015)" by Lockett and Gunn 

Background image by Ela Stipicic | Images from left to right: Japanese Farmer Kimono (1980), depression era damage and right image from the book "Worn (2015)" by Lockett and Gunn 

Broken seams, torn edges and ripped details are details that we love in our quest for a garment that looks aged and well loved.  It helps if they are Japanese which have the added value of japan indigo romance.

 Background image from the book "My Archives 3" by Antonio Di Battista  | Front image from the book "DENIM - An American Story" by David Little 

Background image from the book "My Archives 3" by Antonio Di Battista  | Front image from the book "DENIM - An American Story" by David Little 

Original selvedge denims are the most sought after for being the original and iconic internal seaming worn to be seen as rolled cuffs.  Red selvedge is today thought of as the original however, white selvedge is in fact the first and the most original denim edge woven on original shuttle looms way back when.

 

 Background image by Ela Stipicic | Left image from the book "DENIM - An American Story" by David Little | Centre image from: Jeans Of The Old West by M.A. Harris | Image on the right from the book"My Archives 3" by Antonio Di Battista 

Background image by Ela Stipicic | Left image from the book "DENIM - An American Story" by David Little | Centre image from: Jeans Of The Old West by M.A. Harris | Image on the right from the book"My Archives 3" by Antonio Di Battista 

Rough and ready hems and seams on original aged jeans and old look replicas.

Seams on the original orange tab jeans to the left benefit from aggressive high low 3D finishing on all seams and exposed edges.  Even when the bleach level is light the light dark contrast is marked.   

Heavy rust tint on an extremely old pair of confederate jeans highlights the white selvedge on the inside seam.

Twin and triple needling on big rolled cuffs end naturally in a rough cut edge.

 Background image by Bruce Chatwin from the book: "Photographs and Notebooks" | Top by J. Watanabe 

Background image by Bruce Chatwin from the book: "Photographs and Notebooks" | Top by J. Watanabe 

Contrived giant shaped style denims created with twin and triple needle seams, finished with raw edgings.

Around the edges: Cuffs, collars and pockets

The most obvious areas for creative treatment are collars, cuffs and pockets. The bits around the edges that create attitude.

 Background image by Bruce Chatwin. From the book: Photography and Notebooks. Left and right image from the book: My Archive 3 by Antonio Di Battista 

Background image by Bruce Chatwin. From the book: Photography and Notebooks. Left and right image from the book: My Archive 3 by Antonio Di Battista 

Inside out denim which creates contrast additionally benefitting from degraded edges and the original "selvedge" denim. Degradation is enhanced by laundry coating to emulate the original wear of the garment.   Focus is on white foamed and frayed edges and stone water textured indigo.

 Background image by Bruce Chatwin. From the book: Photography and Notebooks. Left and right image from Diesel online store: D-GAIL and D-CARPER jackets

Background image by Bruce Chatwin. From the book: Photography and Notebooks. Left and right image from Diesel online store: D-GAIL and D-CARPER jackets

Contrast fabric cuffs for a sport style edge to white denim. Rolled cuffs which reveal the backside of a super dark denim.

 Background image by Bruce Chatwin. From the book: Photography and Notebooks. French worker jacket (1930) from the book WORN (2015) by Douglas Gunn and Roy Lockett. Jackets from DIesel online store: D-CARPER and D-CAROL.   

Background image by Bruce Chatwin. From the book: Photography and Notebooks. French worker jacket (1930) from the book WORN (2015) by Douglas Gunn and Roy Lockett. Jackets from DIesel online store: D-CARPER and D-CAROL.   

White pigment coated fine weave when subjected to a heavy finish reveals the blue secret inside. Further enhanced by creative repair where wear should be.

Contrast zippers, collars and seams give the style details more importance than the garment body. 

 Imges from Diesel online store: Left: BELTHY ANKLE DSP | Right: WIDEE-F

Imges from Diesel online store: Left: BELTHY ANKLE DSP | Right: WIDEE-F

Pocket edge grinding plus faked cut out pockets to reveal the Diesel logo are cool edgings which match the frayed seaming and inside out frayed waistband edges.  Such creative detailing work best with faked vintage denim creating and ironic vintage look.

 Background image by Andy Goldsworthy: | Pocket image from: My Archive 3 by Antonio Di Battista 

Background image by Andy Goldsworthy: | Pocket image from: My Archive 3 by Antonio Di Battista 

Iconic money pocket and jeans front pockets with aged vintage rivets and brace buttons are the real deal. Completed with worn in worn out vintage washing to reveal the heart of the aged denim.

AROUND THE EDGES TREND IN FOCUS

Denim fabric is visibly little changed. We spend a great deal of time playing with variants of what has been before, adding new fibres for touch, for stretch, for performance.  Current changes are mainly performance related and invisible. The excitement is currently derived from creative effects in the garment.

Denim garments are all about both detail and finish.  The two are inextricably linked.  Edges are frayed and unpicked; seams are degraded; edge stitching is obvious - blanket, braiding, beading. We consider what are the influences which give rise to new edge and fastening treatments.

 All images from Diesel online store besides: Fringe jacket: MSGM | Collar on the right side of the image: From the book WORN(2015) by Lockett and Gunn. | Image above collar from the book: My Archive 3 by Antonio Di Battista. 

All images from Diesel online store besides: Fringe jacket: MSGM | Collar on the right side of the image: From the book WORN(2015) by Lockett and Gunn. | Image above collar from the book: My Archive 3 by Antonio Di Battista. 

We examine myriad variations of what's around the edges of a denim garment - collars, cuffs, pockets all which benefit from creative degrading; ripping and repairing; fraying and fringing.  Contrast colour; white and blue spray; inside out denim, where the backside is as important as the face.  The denim itself is a mere vehicle for creative edge work. 

 Background image by Ela Stipicic | Left and right denim by DSQUARED2 | Centre image: UNRAVEL PROJECT nature lace up skinny jeans  from stefaniamode

Background image by Ela Stipicic | Left and right denim by DSQUARED2 | Centre image: UNRAVEL PROJECT nature lace up skinny jeans  from stefaniamode

Use of creative hardware and hard logos as befits the tough nature of the jean.  Buckles used as decoration in weird places for effect only with a creative nod to its western origins.  Lacing instead of zips or buttons.

 Images from left to right: AMIRI Splattered paint denim jacket | FORTE COUTURE logo banded skinny jeans | r13 distressed denim jacket | UNRAVEL PROJECT lace up front skinny jeans | Background image: PHILIPP PLEIN Light Melissa Boyfriend jeans | OFF WHITE cropped zip denim jacket

Images from left to right: AMIRI Splattered paint denim jacket | FORTE COUTURE logo banded skinny jeans | r13 distressed denim jacket | UNRAVEL PROJECT lace up front skinny jeans | Background image: PHILIPP PLEIN Light Melissa Boyfriend jeans | OFF WHITE cropped zip denim jacket

The constant throughout all the pocketing ideas is the angled western jacket pocket. Twin needled seaming which benefits from a heavy wash; flap pockets with button or snap fastenings. Closed pocket zippers are a more modern addition.

 Japanese Farmer Viner Kimono (1890's) from the book "Worn" by Douglas Gunn and Roy Lockett | Background image from the book "Photography and notebooks" by Bruce Chatwin 

Japanese Farmer Viner Kimono (1890's) from the book "Worn" by Douglas Gunn and Roy Lockett | Background image from the book "Photography and notebooks" by Bruce Chatwin 

The vintage reclaimed Japanese Kimono jacket which combines denim with original checks and stripes forces us to focus on the front edges the collar and the absent cuffs. The whole is enhanced by natural ageing creating a super romantic garment which would be much less alluring without the front edging.