DENIM

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To commemorate 140 years of the Levi’s 501 jean, there was a visit to London from archivist Lynn Downey. But nobody invited me to see her talk about the history of the 501, so I’m not going to write about the video and other assorted PR stuff here. That doesn’t stop me loving the 501 though. Back before forums came up with wild theories on how to maintain denim to get the fabled fades, LIFE ran a feature on denim’s style status as of November 1972, accompanied by some amusing images — retired cattle rancher Ben Cambron’s custom Levi’s denim car seats are the ultimate in mobile denim bleed proto swag and there’s plenty of talk of a Gallic love for denim and the de Nîmes connection – images of Johnny Hallyday in double denim, cool kids in Paris and a flea market stand shifting jeans. Paris’ first real Levi’s fashion show was apparently at the Crazy Horse Saloon and there’s pictures here to prove it. Peter Haas, Levi Strauss — HNIC for several years and an employee of the company from 1945-2005 — makes an appearance in front of a San Francisco factory workforce too. The piece also talks about a Russian denim line called Super Rifle, which sounds like the kind of brand that’s still lurking in the denim hall at a Euro trade show. Happy 140th to a shape shifting design classic and kudos to LVC and Levi’s for creating lookbooks and video content that’s actually worth a few minutes of your time.

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The Hermès’ Festival des Métiers is also worth the energy you need to commute against a swathe of old money haired people in colourful corduroys as you brave Sloane Square to visit the Saatchi Gallery. I couldn’t give too much of a shit about factory tour videos (in fact, sometimes, that plexiglass aura of transparency makes me like a brand less), but I’m interested in the Hermès’ brand’s legacy of craftsmanship and it’s one of the few brands that emerged unsullied from Dana Thomas’ Deluxe. To watch someone set precious stones, make a neck tie, create a leather bag or put a watch together from close range is absorbing and goes some length to justifying at least some of the costs. I took (along with everyone else who was in the vicinity) the opportunity to take some obtrusive iPhone pictures to prove I visited. It’s curious to know very little about a brand’s workings and then see it in this context, so I recommend visiting before it leaves London early next week. The Hermès’ showcase’s gallery proximity to an exhibition that showcases Boris Mikhailoiv’s explicit depictions of Ukranian poverty was probably a coincidence, but it created a disorienting microcosm of a colossal gulf between rich and poor.

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Finally, a cover for the Slam Kicks book has appeared. With Scoop Jackson on board, I’m hoping for something akin to Sole Provider, but there’s few details out there (the book isn’t published until early 2014) right now. I guarantee that none of the 2013 Jordans will age like a pair of 1985 AJ1s.

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