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These Levi’s vintage jeans came out of retirement and they’ll be your new favorite

Levi's brings back its original jeans stitch for stitch

Levi's jeans leather label close up

If you spend your life going through the racks of secondhand stores looking for that perfect pair of vintage Levi’s jeans, we’re here to save you some time and brain cells. The iconic denim brand has taken us back to the genesis of denim culture with its iconic 9Rivet jeans, a vintage relic dating all the way back to the 1870s (so, perhaps, “historical” would be a better word). Just like the brand itself, the 9Rivet Levi’s jeans represent a pivotal moment in sartorial history, and now, more than 150 years later, you can own a pair. What a time to be alive.

The original Levi’s jeans

Levi's 9Rivet jeans

The original 9Rivet jeans, thought to be the first pair ever, are preserved in the Levi’s archives in San Francisco. The riveted duck waist overalls, used to help date the 9Rivet jeans, can be found at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History, donated by Levi Strauss & Co. when the museum first opened.

Levi’s has meticulously recreated the original pair of jeans, down to the number of stitches (hence the name), and they’ve made just 800 pairs, so you’ll have to be quick. Or you can just buy them in a secondhand shop in a few years, but then you’ll be right back to where you started.

Each pair is made to look exactly like the original

Each pair of the 9Rivet Levi’s jeans is made with single-stitch construction, one back pocket, exposed rivets, a watch pocket and sewn-on buttons. To keep them authentic, each pair is adorned with a pre-1875 Levi’s leather patch, a crotch gusset and an unriveted back cinch. They’re all crafted from 9 oz. plain selvedge Cone Mills white oak denim.

Tracey Panek, Levi’s in-house historian, and Levi’s Vintage Clothing design director Paul O’Neill partnered up to recreate the jeans. In a press release, 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.”

Levi’s jeans: Historical significance

Levi's 9Rivet jeans on model

Each pair of the Levi’s 9Rivet vintage jeans comes in a commemorative box as well as print-outs giving the buyer an outline of the historical significance of the jeans. Wouldn’t it be nice if everything from the secondhand store came with this? For example, what if you found a pair of Levi’s jeans that said, “These were worn in the crowd at Woodstock ’69 when Jimi Hendrix closed out the festival.”

How much are they?

Levi's 9Rivet jeans historical papers

Each pair is priced at $495, meaning they’re right on par with the prices of vintage clothing these days, right? While that may not sound entirely budget-friendly, just imagine being able to tell someone the historical significance when they compliment you on your cool new Levi’s jeans.

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Sarah Veldman
Sarah has been a freelance writer for over 7 years now, having started while she was living out of a suitcase and traveling…
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