Levi's is a brand steeped in history. And they've never been shy about looking back to celebrate the lasting style of their most beloved products. The Levi's Vintage Clothing label has developed a dedicated following for the authentic stitch-for-stitch remakes of those iconic 501s from the '30s and '40s. But this fall, the brand is tripping back to the not-so-distant past and reintroducing the '70s-era Orange Tab—the little-known line that's become grail status for denim collectors.
High, 10" rise and square cut hips
Slim, tapered leg
Longer, leaner back pockets
Seven belt loops
First introduced in 1969, the range of affordable denim quickly took off with students in the mid-1970s and soon wound up on everyone from Springsteen to the young people in his audience. To keep the cost low, the pared down jeans were not selvedge but rather cut from wide bolts of denim fabric and featured dark copper shank buttons, Talon zippers and no rivets. 1970s Trucker jacket, $288 and 606 overdye black jeans, $225Soft and washed, they were easygoing knock-around jeans. Not like the standard raw denim that would take months to break in. Because really, those free lovin' hippies didn't have time for that.
To recreate the range, Miles Johnson, creative director of Levi's premium collections, took his team to the famed Cone Mills in North Carolina. "We knew what yarn it was, the dyes and the weight—it was just about getting there again," says Johnson. "Thankfully, we found the original formula for the Orange Tab denim in a dusty old book at Cone and were able to re-run the exact same 14oz denim and weave it on the same looms." The jeans themselves are all sewn in America, the same way there were when the line first debuted and then finished with labels based on original Orange Tab products. Of course, it's not lost on Johnson, though, that "to make things like we used to" isn't exactly cheap these days.