RE/DONE altered 501´s
Everybody is on the hunt for the perfect jeans. We want them to last a lifetime, but the quality of most jeans manufacturers is not what it used to be in the 90´s and 80´s. I´we been around jeans and sold denims over 15 years of my 20 year career in fashion. This piece is a passion to me and I make my business to know all about it. I have been following a NYC based denim brand RE/DONE for a few years now since their brand is all about vintage denims and alterations.
In my point of view, using elastane in jeans fucked everything up. Westerners have been getting bigger (me among them) and they demanded more comfort. The industry responded by adding rubber in the mix of cotton. At the same time, after the millennia changed, the quality of cotton has been on the decline as water becomes a valuable commodity, space to grow cotton diminishes and prices soar. This meant brands, even the ones with good reputations, started using thinner fabrics that don´t last in use as well as the old ones. If you ask me, denim jeans cannot be made from 10 oz. denim. It just does not last in use. It cannot. If we take 10 000 steps per day and don´t have a thigh gap, the wear our jeans have to endure daily is a lot. 10 oz. just can´t handle it, but a classic 14 oz. can. This is the main reason why RE/DONE uses only vintage denim, Levi´s 501´s to be exact. Even if the style is modified slimmer, the jean is still durable in everyday use. Also vintage jeans have already been broken in, so they feel soft and comfortable on.
One might say, are there enough 501´s to go around. Co-founder Sean Barron explained “There are a lot. Levi’s has been making the 501 for 40 years at around 10 million pairs a year, so there are 400 million pairs in circulation – give or take a few. We’re fine for a while. Everyone has had a personal relationship with Levi’s, they remember their first pair, and nobody else had that pair. That’s the feeling we’re creating here.” It is true, Levi´s 501 is a classic (plus all the other over 20 year old quality jeans from that era) and it never loses its value. This is why I´m happy to see RE/DONE make such a buzz about their jeans. People need to realize, that clothes are valuable. If the quality is done right to begin with, they never lose their value. It just goes up. I think RE/DONE is doing a good job in hunting these pieces down and keeping them in circulation.
“Every new pair of denim requires 8000 liters of water in fibre cultivation and sewing production. This equals about 8 years (!) of your drinking water. Plus the amount that you wash them during their life cycle.”
This means that buying second hand clothes instead of newly produced ones or clothes made or altered from second hand materials, is an environmental act itself. This is why I hope to see more companies like RE/DONE using second hand as their main material. I hope they take this little piece of information and pass them down to their customers. When adding the amount of water that is consumed by water washing the jeans, the total amounts to 10 000 liters per pair.
As a seamstress, I understand the proportions and measurements of a (female) body. We are all very unique, and that makes it very hard for most to find a perfectly fitting pair of denim. It is not just about the waist size, but the whole body proportions compared to one another. Women spend days, propably weeks of their lives to find them. Brands label their jeans differently and many have tens of models with different fits. That said, I´m 100% sure, that there is no perfect model. Show be a butt, and I´ll show you a different perfect pattern. Jeans are the hardest piece of fashion to find and anyone trying, so I recommend the slow run. Spend time looking them up, don´t make any compromises, and when you find a butt-match, buy it if the jeans have a good quality. So if you see a pair of 14 oz. jeans at the thrift shop for less than 25€, buy them.
“When shopping second hand jeans, the most important thing is to have the waistline and hips fit you perfectly AND at the desired height on your waist. Everything else from the thighs, calf and hem length can be altered by a seamstress.”
RE/DONE jeans cost about 250 dollars, so if you find your pair under 50€ in a second hand shop and spend another 50-100€ to take them to the seamstress, they are still a reasonable bargain.