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!

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