7.01.2010

Levi's New Releases: Selvedge 201 and 501

Hot on the heels of their end-of-the-spring sale, Levi's has stocked their web site with some of the new offerings for the colder half of this year. The most compelling items in my eyes are the selvage update of the 501 and the newly re-introduced, non-LVC version of the 201. And more good news: they're both available for the very non-LVC price of $98.00.
Firstly a short history lesson: Way back in the 1870s, after hearing of miners complain of pockets ripping off of their pants in rough working conditions, Loeb (Levi) Strauss, the brains of the operation, and Jacob Davis, the money man, got a patent for using rivets to secure pockets to clothing. The American blue jean is born. The Number One overall was the first model introduced by LS&Co. This later became known as the 501 model and featured a leather patch. Shortly thereafter, a second,  budget-type model, known as the Number Two overall was introduced (later known as the 201) and featured a linen patch to differentiate it from the higher-end Number One. The primary difference between the two is that the Number Two had a lighter weight fabric than the original Number One.
Levi's has essentially offered the 501 since day one in one form or another but the 201 has seen a wax and wane phenomenon, being released maybe two times in the past ten years under Levi's LVC (Levi's Vintage Clothing) line. The current model isn't exactly faithful to the original model, featuring five pockets instead of four (the originals only had one rear pocket) but it is a nice nod to a bygone era and the history of Levi's as a brand.
In these two first photos, you can clearly see the differences between the modern 201 "Workwear Jeans" and what we've become accustomed to with the 501 and every iteration thereafter (510, 511, 514, etc.). The 201s feature a functional cinch back, suspender (aka brace) buttons and back pocket rivets. The fit appears to be even more generous than that of the 501s although I cannot confirm this fact. It isn't even apparent whether or not the selvedge denim is sanforized or not. I will inquire at Levi's HQ to find out more details. The Levi's site seems a bit reluctant to divulge details concerning the origins/quality/weight of it's denim. I would guess that the 201 is of the same weight as the 501 based upon the pictures but you never can tell for sure. The fact that the 201s are only available in a 30 or 32 inch inseam suggest that they don't shrink very much (although this is purely conjecture).
The selvedge 501s appear to be everything you've come to expect only Levi's is jumping on the 'All-Selvedge-Everything' bandwagon (which certainly makes everything better). In all seriousness though, if you are a large-thighed man, this is about the best pair of sub-100 doll-hair selvedge denim you could hope for in my (admittedly Levi's fanboy) humble opinion. Or hell, if you a regularly-sized-thigh person with a reverence for Levi's and don't mind a bit of extra fabric, these are your high-quality, raw denim heritage jeans.

As a freak of a fan of 501s, I might have to buy this pair even though I have way too much denim already. Maybe after I get a little more info on the fabric. It is already clear that they are not constructed in the U.S. ($98 price tag) and the obligatory "Imported" listed as the country of origin on the website supports this.

Hopefully more info to follow. It'd be nice if the new 501s and 201s were cut from selvedge denim from the infamous Cone Mills of North Carolina...

*Edit - Levi's has updated the site to include a few more details about these two pairs of denim. The 201's rise is 1.25" bigger than that of the 501. (12.5" vs. 11.25") and the circumference of the leg opening on the 201 is a half inch larger than on the 501. The 501s are also shrink-to-fit but the 201 is not specified as such so I have to assume that they will not shrink much (they're Sanforized). The message I got back from Levi's when I inquired originally about all the details was painfully general and didn't answer any of my questions. I'll keep pressing to see what I can find out.

7 comments:

  1. i am kinda of obsessed with Levi's denim lately..
    They are so perfect for me..
    great colour tho.
    LOx

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  2. There's something about Levi's that is really special--maybe it's their history, pride and consistency. As a female I have rarely (once only and that was with a belt) found Levis' that fit as they tend to have waistlines too roomy for mine in my size. However it doesn't stop me trying them on every so often hoping upon hope they might have changed. This has been going on since the 70s-ha ha!
    Anyway--both of these are great and I too love the colour.

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  3. Do you have any recommendations for your readers that are both gay and Catholic?

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  4. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  5. Liz: it can't hurt to try periodically, Levi's does change their fits. For example, I've learned just recently that the men's 501 cut was changed in late 2008 to be roomier in the waist but slimmer in the seat and thighs.

    GCP: Anything I recommend will work for people of most backgrounds. I hope your own blog is doing well.

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  6. I totally didn't know the origin behind Levi's. Interesting story!

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