Vintage Jeans are the Best Jeans

They are more than just old pants.

The vintage, worn out denim is a strong cultural symbol with close association to hard workers, young people, and free expression.  Every sign of wear, every inch of stitching on classic denim clothes make them iconic.  Every wardrobe should have at least one pair of vintage denim jeans.

Vintage clothing is a generic term for garments originating from a previous era.  

Generally speaking, clothing which was produced before the 1920s is referred to as antique clothing and clothing from the 1920s to 20 years before the present day is considered vintage.

Before the "Great Recession," premium denim was one of the fastest growing categories of the apparel business, and there seemed to be no limit to what customers would pay for the latest label, fit, finish, or wash.  In addition to designer brands, consumers frequently pay top dollar for authentic rare jeans.  Vintage clothing can be considered collectible which means some vintage denim pants have value.  In fact, some pants have significant value. 

Vintage Levi's - read the History of Women's Levi Jeans.

Popular vintage jeans brands include: Levi's, Lee, and Wrangler.

Levi's - Levi Strauss & Co. is a privately owned American clothing company known worldwide for its Levi's brand of denim jeans.  It was founded in May 1853.  Jacob Davis, a Latvian Jewish immigrant, was a Reno, Nevada tailor who frequently purchased bolts of cloth made from denim from Levi Strauss & Co.'s wholesale house. After one of Davis' customers kept purchasing cloth to reinforce torn pants, he had an idea to use copper rivets to reinforce the points of strain, such as on the pocket corners and at the base of the button fly.  Davis did not have the required money to purchase a patent, so he wrote to Strauss suggesting that they go into business together. After Levi accepted Jacob's offer, on May 20, 1873, the two men received U.S. Patent 139,121 from the United States Patent and Trademark Office.  The pants - called “waist overalls” - have one back pocket with the Arcuate stitching design, a watch pocket, a cinch, suspender buttons and a rivet in the crotch.

Levi Patent Riveted Clothing

Lee - Lee is an American brand of denim jeans, first produced in 1889 in Salina, Kansas.  The company was formed in 1889 by Henry David Lee as the Lee Mercantile Company at Salina, Kansas producing dungarees and jackets. The growth of Lee was prompted by the introduction of the Union-All work jumpsuit in 1913 and their first overall in 1920.  Later in the 1920s Lee introduced a zipper fly and continued to expand. Around this time, the first children's overall line was sold. In 1928 H.D. Lee, founder and president of The H.D. Lee Mercantile Company, died.  During the 1930s and 1940s the company became the leading manufacturer of work clothes in the US. In 1944, the Lazy "S" became the official Lee back pocket.  The classic look and feel of Lee denim is hard to deny.  Vintage Lee brand apparel, including jeans, jackets, and even shirts, fit into any fashionistas wardrobe.

Wrangler - Wrangler is an American manufacturer of jeans and other clothing items, particularly workwear.   Wrangler Jeans were first made by Blue Bell, who acquired the brand when they took over Casey Jones in the mid-1940s. Blue Bell employed Bernard Lichtenstein ('Rodeo Ben'), a Polish tailor from Łódź who worked closely with cowboys, to help design jeans suitable for rodeo use. This was the origin of Wrangler Jeans. The 13MWZ style, introduced in 1947 as lot number 11MWZ, is still available worldwide.

You may also want to learn about Jordache, Gloria Vanderbilt, and Calvin Klein.

Where to buy vintage jeans? Vintage denim clothing can be previously worn or never worn fashion from a previous ear.  It is very possible to find this type of clothing in thrift stores, garage sales, or high end fashion boutiques.  Popular places to buy vintage pant styles include charity-run second hand clothing shops, consignment shops, yard sales, flea markets, antique stores, estate sales, auctions, and vintage clothing shops.  Vintage clothing shops are often found in trendy or artsy neighborhoods of cities.  You can search for vintage clothing stores in the Apparel Search retail directory.  If you are looking for a delicious pair of vintage jeans visit boutiques, garage sales, flea markets, and other shopping opportunities.

The popularity of the internet and growth in online shopping for clothes has provided a great boost to the vintage clothing industry.  It has increased the availability of specific and previously hard to find items.  Online market places such as eBay, Etsy, and Craigslist are also helpful tools for enthusiasts of vintage apparel & accessories.  Most brick & mortar clothing shops with physical locations now also sell their goods online.

Can wearing vintage clothing save the planet?

It may not save the planet but it certainly can’t hurt.  Wearing vintage clothes is essentially a method of recycling apparel.

Learn more about vintage fashion in our fashion terms section. 

You should probably read a bit more about jean jackets and jean shorts.  They are important to the vintage apparel market as well.

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