You may have noticed that we've just added some LVC denim to the Stockroom. We've selected the three styles that we consider the strongest in the line and we're really excited to be working with such an iconic brand. For the first issue of the magazine I wrote a short piece about LVC and it really sums up why we've chosen to work with them. I think it also provides some helpful background on sizing, shrinkage and washing. With that in mind and by way of an introduction, I've included an except here, alongside some photos of LVC jeans I've worn from raw.
For the last 10 years, whenever I've needed a pair of jeans, I've only bought raw denim from the Levi's Vintage Clothing collection. It's not the most premium option, many Japanese brands potentially offer something better, but my connection to Levi's is stronger. I suppose it comes down to heritage; that's the brand that resonates most with me, so that's what I wear. Vintage pieces may be the ideal option, but prices can be prohibitive and you rarely get to start from scratch. LVC's reproductions provide access to an aesthetic - a middle ground between vintage and modern. I don't want to collect things and keep them hidden away. I want to wear the things I love, and at the very least be able to buy a replacement faithful to the original. LVC gives me that opportunity, I'm grateful for that, and I doubt I'll ever wear anything else.
In London, and Europe in general, these jeans are a staple and have been for some time but I remember buying a pair for the first time - there seemed so much to consider.
I know a lot of people are confused by the seemingly random numbers used to describe each jean. The three digit number refers to the style, but when it comes to 501s, there's been so many versions, most people use the year to be more specific. It's a style that didn't stand still, changing regularly in response to demand, fashion and even law; each new edition defined by subtle differences in shape and detail. If you hear someone using a two digit number in relation to a pair of Levi's, it will almost always refer to the year, and in turn the features, of a particular 501.
Something else that seems to concern people is the sizing. If there's one thing you're guaranteed from all LVC raw denim (except the 505) it's shrinkage - don't let anyone tell you otherwise. If you wash them, they will shrink. Levi's suggest a little more shrinkage on the waist than I've experienced, but it's a good guideline and buying a size up is definitely worthwhile. They may seem big to begin with, but they'll always end up the right size. It's hard to be exact as it depends how you wash them, but at 40 degrees they usually shrink an inch on the waist and 3 in the length. The only way to avoid this is not to wash them at all, and if that's what you plan on doing, buy your actual size.
Personally, I think machine washing never hurts; over time it creates a much stronger contrast, but I wouldn't do it right away. The one thing I'd do before anything else is soak them. Levi's suggest 10 minutes, but to me that isn't long enough. Turn them inside out and lay them in a bath of cold water for about 3 hours. That causes a decent amount of shrinkage and leg twist. Then spin them in the washing machine to get rid of any excess water, put them on while they're still damp and wear them until they're dry, setting in all the creases. After that, just wear them a lot and be patient. The longer you leave the first machine wash, the better they'll look down the line. When they do need washing, turn them inside out, do them on their own and don't use fabric conditioner.
Other people may have a different approach, but that's what I've always done and it's worked for me. That said, there's no right or wrong. Certain things are worth considering to begin with, but once you've started wearing them, the less you worry about a set of rules the better. —
Available at the Inventory Stockroom