There’s no shortage of niche menswear items being collected and then sold on sites like eBay, etsy, or Rakuten. With some savvy web searching and an ever-vigilant eye, you can find some really special pieces to add to your closet. But more often than not, these highly sought-after pieces have been pre-owned and may come in a wide range of conditions that compromise the overall value of a piece. Luckily, the value of denim goes up if you go far back enough in denim history regardless of its condition.
However, it is something really special to find a vintage pair of jeans brand new with tags (BNWT, for you savvy web shoppers). And what could a rarity such as this go for? How about upwards of $5000? That’s right. For some die hard denim lover, there is an original pair of Levi’s 501 Big ‘E’ XX for sale on eBay. The pair went up for auction on November 4, 2014 with a starting price of $2000. As I’m writing this, the current bid stands at a whopping $5110. And with a few days still left until the auction closes, the price will likely continue to rise (especially in the last 10 seconds).
Judging from the pictures, the jeans were likely made in the late 1950s. The rear pockets contain hidden rivets which places them somewhere between 1937 and 1966. One of the tags even reads “For over 85 years…” so that narrows the production of these jeans to be between 1958 and 1966. Upon closer inspection of the waistband tag, the jeans are more narrowly defined as being made between 1958 and 1960 since it still reads “Every Garment Guaranteed.” (Levi’s started using heavy card stock instead of leather patches in 1954 and dropped the phrase from its tags in 1960). All details considered, it’s easy to say that these jeans were produced well before the company was even a century old.
By vintage denim standards, the jeans are old but not ancient. What makes them particularly remarkable, though, is not just their age, but the fact that, for several decades, they sat in a closet untouched. They were passed down to the seller from his family and were never worn nor washed with all of the original tags in place. Except for the cracked waistband patch, the jeans look like they’re in mint condition. This pair is truly a vintage deadstock item, not a Levi’s Vintage Clothing reproduction.
If you’ve got the cash to splash and love Levi’s history, you can find the eBay listing here.