September 24, 2023

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 the archaeologist of cowboys 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 were purchased by Kyle Haupert, 23, and Zip Stevenson, a veteran of the jean market. vintage. Stevenson found out about the garment 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 provided the remaining 10%.

Although the archaeologist searched more than 50 abandoned mines to find more “treasures,” he has yet to find a pair of equal quality. “These jeans they are extremely rare, especially in this fantastic condition of use and size”, has stressed the expert buyer in vintage, 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, according to himself. The rest are kept in museums and are too delicate to be used. “There are a couple of weak points in the jeans They could use a little bracing but are otherwise super solid,” Stevenson noted, “I could easily imagine Johnny Depp or Jason Momoa wearing them.”

The auction was held at the Durango Vintage Festivus held just outside the town of Aztec and hosted by cowboy expert vintage Brit Eaton: “I’ve been in this business for a quarter of a century and jeans vintage average are worth around 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 newspaper. 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 American country. In 1890, just eight years later, Levi’s decided to stop reflecting this in their clothing.

Detail of the label of the auctioned Levi's pants.
Detail of the label of the auctioned Levi’s pants. hibid

With pants so valuable – by history and by 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 stored in a safe deposit box near Stevenson’s store, Denim Doctors, in Los Angeles and can be viewed by appointment.

The company, founded in 1853, is one of the world’s leading jean brands. 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 damage to the auctioned pants.
Small damage to the auctioned pants. hibid

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