The latest jeans to emerge from preeminent denim brand Levi’s is a major turning point. For over a century, Levi’s got its supply of shrink-to-fit indigo-dyed selvedge denim from the historic Cone Mills denim mill, specifically from its White Oak plant in Greensboro, North Carolina. But American manufacturing had been on an excruciating descent since the 1980s. When the White Oak plant finally shuttered in 2017, it stunned countless brands and denim fans. But, Levi’s found an alternative for its top-shelf reproduction sub-label Levi’s Vintage Clothing in another denim mecca — Japan.
The jeans are based off of the 1966 501, a mid-rise jean with regular fit and period-accurate details. The only difference is its Japanese provenance. From the 12-ounce selvedge denim fabric to the sewing, even the famed Levi’s Red Tab is written in Japanese katakana (not to mention all of the branded buttons and rivets).
The 1966 501 was a style that was first re-introduced solely for the Japanese market in the 1990s before being re-re-introduced to the American market in the aughts through Levi’s Vintage Clothing. With the production torch being passed to Japan, this jean recognizes Levi’s’ unique relationship with the country and celebrates the new era. The only problem is that this run was limited to just 150 pairs and they’ve already sold out.