Today I want to highlight one of the oldest indigo clothing items from my private collection. It’s a kids kimono (for 3 – 4 years old kids) from circa 1930 (maybe older). Before I go further with this specific kimono, first some history about the kimono.
The kimono is a Japanese traditional garment. The word ‘kimono’ means a ‘thing to wear’ (ki “wear” and mono “thing”). The standard word kimono in English is kimonos. The kimono is always used in important festival or formal moments, it is the representative of polite and a very formal clothing. Kimonos has T-shaped, straight-lined robes worn so that the hem falls to the ankle, with attached collars and long, wide sleeves. Kimonos are wrapped around the body, always with the left side over the right side (except when dressing the dead for burial) and secured by a sash called an obi, which is tied at the back. Kimonos are generally worn with traditional footwear.
My kimono comes from the Miyagi Prefecture area, the North Pacific Ocean side from Japan. The kimono is from the early Showa period. The Showa period is known from the potentially period of peace and harmony or ‘period of radiant’ Japan. The Showa era refers to the period of Japanese history corresponding to the reign of the ShowaEmperor, Hirohito, from December 25, 1926, through January 7, 1989.
Back to my kimono. The kimono is made by hand and coloured with natural indigo. It has beautiful different blue colors, aged by wear. On the back you see a small repair which is very common by old traditional clothing. People repaired over and over again their clothes as they didn’t had the money to buy new stuff (totally different than nowadays). If you flip the kimono inside out you will see the strong blue colors. This kimono is a true piece of art with a rich history and link to the denim industry.
Denim is one of the world’s favorite fabrics, and also one of the largest segment of the clothing industry. To celebrate the iconic blue clothing item Emma McClendon, assistant curator at The Museum at Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT), New York, organised a great expo which was displayed untill the 7th of May. The expo was called: “Denim: Fashion Frontier“. Emma publised also a book with all the highlights from this expo.
Cover book: Denim: Fashion Frontier
The most interesting item from this ”Denim: Fashion Frontier” expo was a pants dated from the 1840′s. This is a true treasure and pre-miners jeans. It’s the oldest pair from the FIT museum archive. This pants is extremely cool and loaded with great details;
Fall front instead of a center fly.
Fall front is attached with 3 bone buttons (Metal buttons were introduced later and most of the time on workwear clothes).
The bone buttons absorbed the indigo, see center of the buttons, as the pants was dyed in indigo afterwards.
The pants is dyed in indigo after they were made, instead of dyeing the threads first before weaving.
The entire pants is hand stitched including the repairs.
The waistband is reinforced with denim fabric.
Triangle in the waist to help the wearer tighten the waist.
The shots here below are stills from the video, attached at the end, which they made to highlight all the magnificent details from this 1840′s blue indigo pants.
Denim pants from 1840
Emma McClendon, assistant curator, and Nicole Bloomfield, conservation technologist, both working at The Museum at FIT, explain all the details about this 1840’s pants in the video here below;
Bazar des Poilus Store in an online shop with vintage French workwear items. Most of the items are from the ’30′ – ’40′s and ’50′s. The shop is loaded with the most cool blue workwear items which are all an one of a kind. They all have their ‘rips and tears’ from over the years and are repaired which makes them even more nicer. If you have an addiction for denim, you have to check this out to discover these rare and beautiful pieces. Below some of my favo’s.
Sundays are perfect to stroll around Ebay to find some nice vintage denim items. Today I came across a really special item from Levi’s Jeans. A rare vintage and hard to find Levi’s Jeans from 1920′s. The jeans were discovered long time ago by an explorer in a mine shaft in the great basin of the US. The jeans have all the features of that time. It’s a true vintage treasure. You can buy it for $6.500,- Check the beauty here below.
Last week I got my hands on these two deadstock JSB kids jeans. The jeans are inspired by the moviestar James Dean which became a very popular icon for the youth in the movie ‘Rebel without a Cause’ which came out in 1955. A lot of young kids wanted to be as cool as James who was dressed in jeans with a classic white t-shirt and a pair of boots. This era was also the breakthrough for the new rock and roll music. This period after World War 2 is one of the most important periods for the denim industry and also known as the ‘Golden Period’. A lot of small new denim brands were born. Denim became a fashion statement instead of daily workwear. Brands were using the new upcoming icons as a marketing tool to reach the teenagers.
These two deadstock pair of jeans, size 6 & 8, were made by the JSB brand. They are produced in Belgium around the late ’50′s. The pairs are made of right hand sanforized rigid denim fabrics, non-selvage. The back pockets are inspired by Lee Jeans, maybe because of the fact that James Dean was a fan of Lee. I couldn’t find a lot of info about JSB, so great if you know more about this brand. If you know more about it, please send me an email to: email@example.com. Check out these rebel jeans here below.
Last Kingpins edition in Amsterdam the two guys from ‘The Vintage Showroom’, Douglas Gunn and Roy Luckett, were exhibiting some styles to give the visitors inspiration for their new collections. Their collection is unbelievable large and extremely rare and impressive! The Vintage Showroom has become one of the leading resources for vintage menswear in the UK. A couple of years ago they give us an insight into their collection with their first successful book ‘Vintage Menswear’. The follow-up on the first edition is coming out within some days. You have to check this out, saw already the sample book and it’s again amazing and a true must have for your collection. Below some of the silhouettes which they showed at the Kingpins fair last October in Amsterdam. Keep it up guys!
There are lots of people around the world these days who collect vintage denim. Not so many years ago, that wasn’t the case. But there were enough of them in the late 1970′s and early 1980′s. Yosuke Otsubo was one of them and earned his living finding sought-after denim in Southern California and exporting it to buyers in Japan, his homeland. For the past five years, he has worked in Tokyo – Japan for Levi Strauss & Co. He handles sales and marketing for their best lines: Levi’s Made & Crafted and Levi’s Vintage Clothing. Meet style master Yosuke Otsubo.
Sometimes you see work of an artist which is so cool and after digging into more work of that person it only gets better. One of those few is Cory Piehowicz from Ohio, Colombus (USA). Cory has an extremely passion for photography and gives every pic something special. Next to his love for photography he’s also into denim, big time! He combines those two passions which creates the most beautiful pics you have ever seen. Together with his denim friends he’s doing trips which are a dream for every denimhead. Every now and then they go into old mines to check out if they can find some old denims and denim rags from the miners. Most of the mines were closed after the ‘Gold Rush’ period which started around 1850. Some miners left their old workwear denim items back in the days and these are the ones which Cory and his friends like denim specialist Michael Allen Harris (writer of the book ‘Jeans of the old West’) are looking for. On those trips Cory makes the most perfect shots which bring us all back in the time that the mines were fully operated and it makes us all jealous to make a trip of this by ourselves one day. Below some shots of one of the many trips Cory made in the desert looking for some blue gold. Check also his website for a total overview of his extremely cool work. Keep up the good Cory! Looking forward to see more of your great work in the future!
In 1934 Levi’s Jeans introduced their first denim line for ladies. It was the 701 also called Lady Levi’s. The jeans was made out of selvage fabric but with white and pink thread instead of white and red. This new line was very revolutionary for the denim industry. Below some old Levi’s advertising with a focus on their Lady Levi’s.
Came across this very beautiful early twentieth century boro. This ragged short boro noragi or work coat is something of a masterpiece of stitching and mending. The amount and variety of repair are impressive, but more importantly is the manner in which all the patches and pieces are innocently arranged to form a beautifully collage of old cloth. The coat is shorter than most of its kind and it is clearly re-tailored from an existing garment. True indigo treasure!
Around 1848 the famous ”California Gold Rush” started. A lot of farmers left their farm in order to get a better life by finding gold in the mines. But in the early ’50′s they didn’t find any gold anymore. This was a true disaster for everybody as they gave up their old living. Some of them returned back to their farm. But soon their was some good news as they discovered something new in the Nevada mines. Silver, a lot of silver.
This is the beginning of the denim story as the miners needed some strong pants to work in. In the beginning they called these pants, Overalls, which later in the 1930′s became legendary as Jeans. Read the full story in the recently released new denim book: True Fit (http://truefitdenim.com) by Viktor Fredback and Fredrik Ottosson. A must have for everybody who’s interested in denim.
Kasuri is a traditional folk textile produced in Japan since at least the middle of the 18th century. Kasuri patterns have fuzzy edges and look as if they were splashed onto the fabric. The Japanese word “kasuri” refers to these blurry patterns. This particular kimono is from the early twentieth century.
Levi’s Jeans has a very rich history as it comes to denim. The early models are the most interesting as they tell all a great story from that time and these items are true historical moments in the denim industry. Not all the info is 100% garuanteed as the Levi’s HQ in San Francisco was destroyed by an earthquake in 1906, their complete archive was destroyed, and so are the stories behind every detail. Below some great old examples, from 1800 till 1947, from the one and only Levi’s Jeans from the U.S.A.
Levi’s Jeans 1800 model
1890 was the year that the 501 lot number was first assigned to the iconic jean. The number “5” were considered to be of the highest quality. A description of the quality of the pants was printed on the inside of the left pocket bag as another way to set the jeans apart from other clothing companies.
Levi’s Jeans 1922 model
Belt loops were add to the 501 for the first time in 1922.
Levi’s Jeans 1933 model
Hidden under the leather patch of the 1933 501 was a tiny, white cloth label with the letters “NRA” and a blue eagle. This was the National Recovery Act label which Levi’s was allowed to use because the company abided by President Franklin Roosevelt’s NRA labor rules of the 1930s.
Levi’s Jeans 1937
The 1937 501 featured the famous Red Tab with “LEVI’S” stitched in white capital letters on the right back pocket as an identifying mark to Levi’s Jeans. The Red Tab was introduced in 1936. This particular Red Tab is now also known as the BigE tab. In 1971 Levi’s swtiched to a small e in the Red Tab. The BigE tabs are true collector items nowadays. This model also has the first hidden rivets on the back pockets to safe furnitures from scratches.
Levi’s Jeans 1944 model
Most important change was the famous arcuate stitching, it had to be removed since the threaded design was decorative and had no function. During WW2 every brand was forced by the government to save materials. Levi’s decided to print the arcuate so customers could recognize the brand in the stores. After a few washes the printed arcuates were gone. They used also standard buttons, no rivets on the coin pocket and the cinchback was removed.
Levi’s Jeans 1947
After WW2 this would become the most popular denim fit. It’s also known as the mother of all fits. The classic 5 pocket with straight legs.
Beautiful pair of Momohiki Japanese boro indigo cotton worker trousers. Momohiki was a common garment among farm women and shop men during the 1800′s and
the early 1900′s. It was worn by men and women. A woman’s Momohiki tended to be
decorative, often showing sashiko stitching. This pair has a lot of different kind of blue shades. It’s patched a lot which makes it a true authentic piece of art. Really nice!
Lee Jeans introduced the Lee Rodeo Clown Pants for rodeos. These were very popular events, and this oversized pair of Lee Riders was made for rodeo clowns who played a critical role in rodeos. They not only entertained the crowds during breaks but also distracted a bull or horse from fallen riders, so that the injured could exit the ring. A true cult item and nowadays very hard to find and a collectors jean. Came across an original vintage one at Ebay today from the ’40′s, the auction starts at $ 975. Unfortunately too much for me to place a bid, but damn cool!
Jay Adams (February 3, 1961 – August 15, 2014) was an American skateboarder most prominently known as one of the original members of Z-Boys skateboarding team. He is known as “The Original Seed” of the sport and considered one of the most influential skateboarders of all time. Adams died of a heart attack on August 15, 2014.
Elza and Joost from the Amsterdam based brand Atelier de l’Armee are making the most amazing bags from old and deadstock camouflage jackets and denim fabrics. Over the years they collected many different types of camouflage from all over the world. Here is an overview of the ones that pass through their hands either as cloth or as a garment. My personal favourites are the German (flecktarn), Korean and Swiss camouflage patterns. Very nice overview and check out their great handmade brand!