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Levi’s Vintage Clothing reproduces ‘9Rivet’ jeans - the oldest in archive from 1870s

Tom Bottomley
20 May 2024

Levi’s has uncovered what is now known to be its oldest pair of jeans in its archive, the ‘9Rivet’, and the Levi’s Vintage Clothing team has meticulously recreated it as a limited-edition product on sale from today, for £495.

While Levi’s had been producing what is now known as the 501 jeans since 1873, multiple pieces from the 1870s featured back patches that mentioned a re-patent date of 16 March 1875.

During extensive research at the Levi’s Archives, Paul O’Neill, Levi’s Vintage Clothing Design Director, identified several 1870s pairs with a patch omitting that re-patent date, but he couldn’t read all the information on the distressed patches.

After Tracey Panek, Historian at Levi Strauss & Co., visited the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History to see a pair of Levi’s riveted duck waist overalls that Levi Strauss & Co. donated in 1964 when the museum opened, she discovered that it had an intact back patch also omitting the 1875 date, indicating that it had been produced before the 1875 re-patent.

Several pieces with that same patch in the Levi's Archives could then definitively be dated to pre-1875.

When comparing all details of the garments from that period – including pocket stitching, pocket fabric, buttons, and more – the Levi's historian and the Levi's Vintage Clothing design team could confidently say that the ‘9Rivet’ (other jeans in the archive of that period have a minimum of 11 rivets) pre-dated all other jeans in the archives.

Paul O’Neill said: "Of the various 1870s blue jeans in the Levi’s Archives, I always suspected ‘9Rivet’ was the oldest. After confirming it was in fact the oldest we have, we were thrilled to reproduce all of its quirks and details that collectively capture a unique piece of denim history."

The ‘9Rivet’ reproduction captures all of the unique details of the original garment. Made with 9 oz. plain selvedge Cone Mills White Oak Denim, it has one back pocket, exposed rivets and an unriveted centre-back cinch.

Featuring the pre-1875 Levi's leather patch, the jeans also have a watch pocket sewn on the waistband, denim pocket bags, and sewn-on buttons.

The dedication to detail is reflected in the single-needle arcuate and crotch gusset. With only 800 pairs produced, the ‘9Rivet’ is "presented as if it came straight from the Levi’s Archives".

The limited-edition jeans are now available on the brand’s website, the Levi’s App and in select Levi’s stores.

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