A mine in the western United States hid what many consider to be a treasure: Levi’s from the 1880s. Five years ago they were discovered by cowboy archaeologist Michael Harris and now they have been auctioned in New Mexico fetching a price of more than 87,000 dollars (89,000 euros), one of the highest ever paid for jeans.
The pants have been purchased by 23-year-old Kyle Haupert and Zip Stevenson,who is a veteran of the vintage jean market. Stevenson was learning of the garment’s existence when it was discovered by the archaeologist, but he was not interested in it at the time. “We had no plans to buy the jeans together until the auction started, which is crazy in hindsight,” Stevenson told CNN. Hautner paid 90%, while Stevenson put up the remaining 10%.
Although the archaeologist was searching more than 50 abandoned mines to find more “treasures”, he has yet to find a pair of equal quality. “These jeans are extremely rare, especially in this fantastic used condition and size,” said the expert vintage buyer, who has run a jean repair shop in the Californian city of Los Angeles for almost three decades.
It is not the first time that a similar model has been found, but it is the first time that they can continue to be used, as he himself points out. The rest of them are kept in museums and are in too delicate a state of preservation to use. “There are a couple of weak spots in the jeans that could use a bit of reinforcement, but otherwise they’re super solid,” Stevenson said, “I could easily imagine Johnny Depp or Jason Momoa wearing them.”
The auction was taking place at the Durango Vintage Festivus which takes place just outside the town of Aztec and is organized by vintage jean expert Brit Eaton: “I’ve been in this business for a quarter of a century and the average vintage jean is worth a lot. about 100 dollars. Finding such a valuable pair only happens once in a lifetime.”
Levi’s brand jeans are an icon of the United States, although in this case they also reveal a dark episode in the country’s history. On the inside pocket of the auctioned pants is printed the phrase: “The only type of pants made by White Labor”. A spokesperson for the brand spoke to the Wall Street Journal to explain that the company used that slogan after the introduction of the China Exclusion Act in 1882, which prohibited Chinese workers from entering the United States. In 1890, just eight years later, Levi’s was deciding to stop reflecting it on their clothing.
Detail of the label of the auctioned Levi’s pants. hid
With such valuable pants – for history and for the price for which they have been acquired – it remains to be seen what buyers do with them. “We would consider offering them for sale to an extremely interested private buyer,” Stevenson said. Although the final destination of these jeans could be the same as that of other historical pairs: exhibit them in a museum. At the moment, they are kept in a safe deposit box near Stevenson’s store, Denim Doctors, in Los Angeles and can be seen by appointment.
The company, that was founded in 1853, is one of the reference jeans brands worldwide. But in this last year Levi Strauss has obtained a net profit of 175 million euros between June and August 2022, which represents a drop of 10.5% compared to the result recorded in the same period of the previous year.
Small flaws in the auctioned pants. hid