Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Vintage Red Line Jeans Levis 501

Vintage Levi's 501 Red Line Jeans produced from the early 1970's through 1986 seem especially interesting to collectors, but Levi's  from before 1970 generate a lot of interest and impressive auction values on Ebay.
redline selvedge jean stitching
Red line selvedge jean stitching


The "Red Line" is the red stitching on the inside of the the legs on the jeans going through the selvedge.

VINTAGE LEVI'S  DOUBLE RED LINE SELVEDGE JEANS
Vintage LEVI'S Double Red Line Selvedge Jeans

Selvedge is the woven edge of the material that was used to prevent unraveling. They have also been called "Red ears," which is derived from the Japanese word akaimimis.

How Old Are Your Levi 501 Jeans?

Levi Strauss & Co 1912 Blue Jean Ad "Waist Overalls"
Blue jeans were called "Waist Overalls" before 1960. Waist Overalls with copper rivets were designated with 501 since 1890. In 1927 LS & Co began using a 10 oz. red selvedge denim made exclusively for them by Cone Mills.

Red tab on right back pocket will read LEVI'S with Large "E" before 1971 and Levi's with small "e" after 1971.
LEVI'S Big "E" Tag Pre 1971
LEVI'S Big "E" Tag Pre 1971

Before WWII jeans were called "Waist Overalls" and were more associated with work. After WWII they began to be viewed as leisure clothing. The American public began using the term "Jeans" instead of Waist Overalls during this time. In 1960 Levi Strauss & Co. started using "jeans" in their advertising.

The less expensive style Levi's 201 have blue stitch selvedge.

LEVI'S 501 Values

  • $2285: Searching Ebay I find sales of up to $2285 for "Vintage 30's Big E red line cinch back Levis adolescent size." Auction ended January 15, 2017.
  • $1010: On another pair in November, 2016 bidding started at $99 and went to over $1000 on a seven day auction for "Vintage S 501xx LEVIS BIG E Selvedge Red lines Denim Jeans 31x31." 
For more information on Vintage Red Line Levi's Jeans check out The Levi Strauss & Company web site.