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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TREND ALERT - MY ARCHIVES

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 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.

TREND ALERT - AROUND THE EDGES

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.