Buying the perfect jeans can be complicated enough, buying the perfect vintage jeans is an even more intricate process. Finding the right pair can feel really daunting and overwhelming when you’re not sure where to start. The journey will be worth it however, as the fabric, fit and quality of vintage jeans doesn’t even compare to modern jeans, hence their popularity. Hopefully, we can shed a little light on what is most important to consider when looking to buy a pair of vintage jeans.
Vintage jeans are made to a much higher standard that those made today, which only makes them more valuable as they will last a lifetime. Obviously most important to consider when buying your jeans is that they fit! However, going into this process you need to decide what style and fit will be most appropriate to you and the look you are going for.
Only second to the fit is feel of the denim, they should be heavy and thick, and 100% cotton if possible- check the label. Be aware that some vintage sizing is considerably smaller than modern sizing, and this will contribute to the long process involved in finding the perfect pair.
You will most likely have to visit lots of vintage outlets, and if ordering online, expect to spend a lot of time finding the perfect pair. Furthermore, tailoring is always an option, so if you find a pair that match all your colour/style/feel criteria, tailoring could turn them into the perfect jeans.
If you are most interested in the big vintage brands then its worth researching classic styles such as Levi's 501s and seeing how people wear them. The iconic Levi's 501s are the most popular jeans of all time pretty much, and the 501s were first designed 150 years ago. Levis are most the most popular brand when looking for vintage jeans, but it's important not to forget the other two big American brands; Lee and Wrangler, both of which have some awesome vintage styles. The Lee denim company have been around almost as long as Levis and actually pioneered the zippered fly.
Are your vintage jeans are really vintage?
One challenge you often come across when choosing vintage denim is establishing whether the jeans you have picked are vintage or not. With Levi's in particular there are lots of ways of telling if the jeans are genuine vintage or not.
Seeing as lots of their moat popular styles are still being manufactured and sold now, its useful to know what to look out for if you’re looking for a real vintage pair. There is a wealth of resources on the internet to assist with this, that point out the different markers for telling which era the Levi's you picked up have come from, this includes things like the tab logo style, fonts used on the inner label, a red line on the outseam. Even the numbers oriented on the inside of the top button can tell you which factory the jeans have come from. All this will help you establish how old the pair of Levi's you’re holding is. Another tell is to look for if the label says ‘made in USA’, as most American brand jeans were made in the US until the 1970s. A true vintage piece is at least 20 years old.
Find your vintage jeans and love them ❤️
Of course at the end of the day, the jeans you choose should be the ones that feel the best. Even if it turns out the pair you find are only a few years old, if they feel good quality and fit well then there is no reason these can’t be your perfect ‘vintage’ jeans. Newer denim, or denim that hasn’t been worn much will always need breaking in a bit, so be prepared to put the work in at the beginning to make them as comfy as second skin. Try to wash your jeans as little as possible, and always on a cold wash.
Hopefully this has been a helpful guide, and good luck finding your perfect vintage fit!