Saturday, June 28, 2008

What’s so special about Levi’s Big E?

First of all…I have to declare that I am NOT an authority on Levi’s history or know exactly how Levi’s created Big E. So…my ramblings below are based on what I personally know and understand ONLY.

Big E in the Levi’s clothing range is special, limited and often very much sought after. Big E tab jeans and denim jacket for example are rare and hard to find. Some are considered vintage. If you are able to find one (especially if it’s a pair of jeans), it is either a fake, a used pair or a VERY expensive new pair!

I have seen all three ‘versions’ of Levi’s Big E! There are plenty of fake ones all over Petaling Street and Chow Kit. If it is a new article and costs under RM100, chances are it’s a fake from our neighboring country.

Now…if you want to see a genuine article or at the very least a good quality replica, you’d probably find it in a bundle store anywhere in Malaysia. Big E’s are cherished as they are super rare and bundle store owners will proudly display their collections on the walls of their store.

An expensive new pair I have seen was eons ago in Penang. It came in a box, no red line, bell-bottom pair of jeans with a price tag of RM800. That time I was still in school and back then RM800 is a BIG amount of money. Even if I have bought that pair of jeans, I doubt if it will ever be worth any money as a collector’s item as it is not a red-line pair.

What is ‘red line’? In Malay language, it is referred to as ‘kepala kain’. Literally it means ‘head of the cloth’. Some people refer to it as 'salvaged'. Not sure why but it sort of gives it a cool name I think. The below picture is a close up of a ‘kepala kain’.

Red-line actually occurs on the ends of a whole roll of cloth. Cloth usually comes in certain standard width sizes but in rolls or perhaps hundreds of meters. Red line occurs on the edges of this huge roll of cloth. From a whole roll of cloth, a tailor may make for example 200pcs of jeans. By carefully selecting and measuring the red-lines, the number of normal jeans may drop to 190 and with the ends (with the red-line) gone into making limited edition red line clothing items! Imagine how limited this red-lines are. Possible from the same roll, a tailor may only be able to make 5 pcs of this special item! Red-line does not occur on Levi’s range of clothing only. Other brands like Evisu, Sugar Cane and many more from Japan especially have adopted this special trademark.

Coming back to this pair of Levi’s big E. It’s a 501XX. Check out some of the other cool features below:

Riveted back pockets, red-lined watch pocket, red line full length on both the insides of the jeans and of course…button fly. Nice!

Levi's in bundle used clothing

Levi’s is such a legend in Malaysia. If there is ever a conversation about jeans among Malaysians, I dare to say that the name Levi’s will surely pop up. It is the same with bundle used clothing. Levi’s branded item in used clothing is always sought after. Jeans, denim jacket, flannel shirts, you name it. Even new items in the store may never get as much attention as the used one. Why? Because it has character. And also because the pair of used Levi’s you got from the bundle shop is probably original compared to the pair you paid at Petaling Street!

The reason is simple, as long as the bundle shop got its supply of used clothing from countries like the US and Japan, chances are, the items are real. Especially with countries like Japan, even their fakes are considered ‘replica clothing’, not like the cheap spin-offs you can find in the Malaysian market. These replica’s are to meet the market demands and they are usually from the special or limited edition range. One such example is the Levi’s Big E. Go grab your pair of Levi’s jeans. On the back pocket there is a Levi’s tab (red, silver or orange). Notice that the letter ‘e’ in on the tab is of small letter? The pair above has a capital ‘E’. Its special….its limited…it's rare and there’s a good reason why it is so.

Brands you can find in bundle Used Clothing

Now…lets talk about brands. What brands can we find in bundle or used clothing? Truth is every brand you can ever imagine. From designers line Armani to hand printed rock band shirts (Aerosmiths, Metallica etc), the list is literally endless. However, the strange thing in Malaysia is that not all brands are seen as worth money. Some brands like Levi’s, Lee and Wrangler always takes the center stage, perhaps because of the American influence. Japanese brands like Bathing Ape and Bounty Hunter are also popular among collectors. Then of course there are the outdoor gear brands…which is my favorite like The North Face, Columbia, Gregory, Gramicci and even Mountain Hardwear!.

Don't believe me? Wait and see. I will start posting some of these items on this blog for all to see. Yes…I have plenty of them. I know its ridiculous (ask my wife…she will tell you!) but it really is cool. You get the real stuff, probably better quality than the ones you’d get off the shelves and just a fraction of the price!

Oh…and I almost forgot, bundle used clothing is not limited to clothing only. There are other used items like shoes, backpacks, bandanas (called locally as keys), pouches, belts, jackets, overall etc. Ahh….love them all!

Friday, June 27, 2008

Bundle used clothing is a BIG thing in Malaysia. You can find bundle almost anywhere in Malaysia. Go to our neighboring Thailand and you’ll soon realize that bundle is part of their fashion and lifestyle. Used clothing is hip, it's in, it's cool and it's so damn nice.

If you are wondering why most Chinese (by the way, I AM a Malaysian Chinese) stay away from used clothing…its because Chinese believe that used clothing are mostly from dead people. In the Chinese community, one normally throw out old clothing when the owner of the clothing has passed on. This is far from the truth when it comes to bundle. Bundle comes from mostly rich countries and clothing is thrown out almost on daily basis. This can be due to a number of reasons but it is usually because the cloths have either gone out of style or the seasons have changed and they need a new wardrobe.

The other reason that many people will turn away from buying used clothing is because of diseases. They are worried that the previous wearer of the clothing may be suffering from a disease (especially skin related) that may be transferred to them. There is some truth in this but I have personally been using bundle clothing for the past 12 years and I have not had any issues. Of course you ought to take precautions to avoid these diseases (if any). This is easily done and we will talk a bout this on a later part.

Now…probably the last reason why people shun away from used clothing would be because of prestige or ego. They cannot imagine wearing someone else’s clothing. For this category of folks, I can’t say much. I guess its how they were brought up and having most of their life been served on a silver platter isn’t gonna help either.

But I can tell you this…some used clothing are far more expensive and unique than new clothing. Hunting and buying used clothing is like going on a treasure hunt. You may go on a hunt with something in your mind but you’ll often end up finding something totally amazingly unique and rare.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

The beginning

Finally....I will start writing about my crazy obsesion with used clothing. Glorious used clothing. Used clothing or more commonly known as 'baju bundle' in Malay language has been my clothing trove since the first day my mom gave me money to buy my own clothes! I even get my Chinese (yes...I AM a Malaysian Chinese) New Year clothing from bundle stores. Many of my friends, even my parents can't understand it intially but after some time, they too find themselves wearing them. I am a true 'bundle used clothing Malaysia' fan!
Oh...but don't be fooled...I am very choosy when it comes to used clothing for my closet. It has to be bundle used clothing or baju bundle. No local (Malaysian) used clothing please. It must be 100% 'bundle' quality!