How Levi’s helped define these cool young brands

re/Done upcycled jeans

Oh I do like a happy marriage! What could have been a fraught, competitive relationship has ended in harmony with Levi’s and RE/DONE joining forces recently at Coachella for a bit of a denim-ed up love-in.

If you remember, RE/DONE launched its denim brand last year on the basis of repurposing old Levi’s 501s by re-cutting them into a slightly more contemporary fit. The success of RE/DONE arguably led to the Levi’s 501 revival (ahem, have you seen me in the current campaign?) and happily both brands have seen fit to align in a formal collaboration, rather than compete.

Let’s be honest, RE/DONE had heaps more style cred than Levi’s at the time of launch. (Co founder Jamie Mazur is engaged to supermodel Alessandra Ambrosio and naturally had a host of readymade stylish brand ambassadors on tap.) And on their part, Levi’s had the unique heritage, archive and fantastic product knowledge. Could there be a better match?

Re/Done upcycled denim

Another brand that has accelerated up the cool charts, in no small part thanks to its upcycled Levi’s jeans, is Vetements. Would it have been quite so speedily successful were it not for its signature cut-n-sew jeans, that retail for eight times the price of a pair of off-the-shelf new Levi’s 501s? Who can say, but the jeans will definitely be up there as a decade-defining moment when we reach the end of the 2010s.

Vetements upcycled Levi's Jeans by Tommy Ton

About the price of those Vetements and RE/DONEs. Vetements go for £880, RE/DONEs cost £300. Why? Because each pair has to be individually sewn. For Vetements, the hand-sewn limited edition nature imbues them with a higher ‘value’. Each pair of jeans is crafted from two vintage pairs, scissored along the seams and re-assembled in a new signature cut. And for RE/DONE, it’s the cost of the time taken to measure, cut and stitch. However, having seen the demand for a slimmer, ankle-flashing cut, Levi’s has upped its own game, altering its new 501CT design to reclaim its product.

Which means that in time, the masses will be happier buying into the original authentic product at a reasonable price, rather than seeking out a modified but high-priced version. Already RE/DONE is wisely evolving into other non-denim products, while Vetements’ new ‘It’ item is another normcore subversion; the DHL tee. Levi’s is the ultimate winner here but for now, it knows there’s no harm in keeping tight with the cooler, younger set.


WORDS: Navaz Batliwalla/Disneyrollergirl
MAIN IMAGES: RE/DONE x 2; Vetements by Tommy Ton
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