Vintage Levi's 503zxx toddler jeans
Maker - Levi's
Era - Late 1950s
Acquired - by Second Sunrise in 2017
This week we wanted to show you a cute garment. This pair of miniature Levi's jeans were produced in the 50s to be worn by a small child! They're a part of the post war American era when denim was rapidly becoming more and more popular, and the casual style synonymous with the blue cotton twill fabric was getting more accepted to wear.
Earlier this year our friend Niklas Jönsson wrote me to say that he had found an interesting garment for sale on the Swedish auction site Tradera, known as the "Swedish Ebay". Due to the fact that jeans were'nt popular in Sweden until the late 60s chances are very small thet you'd stumble upon vintage denim older than that here. But this time there was actually a interesting garment showing up! The previous owner got this pair of jeans when he was a child in the early 60s.
On the front of the jeans you can see that the knees have some minor wear. Our guess is that this pair hasn't been worn all that much and that they were washed only a few times. From the 60s up to 2017 they were stowed away in a box until they found a new home in our archive.
The interesting part of the toddler version of the Levis jeans is that they are made like smaller versions of the 501 jeans, sharing the same fabric and details, only made in a smaller scale!
The leather patch is still intact. Barely visible, printed in red, is the picture of the tug of war between two horses trying to rip apart a pair of Levi's jeans. This trademark is known as the "Two Horse Brand", first printed on a patch by Levi's in 1890 and still in use today.
The leather used on these older jeans was not processed in the same way as they are today, where chrome and other products will help it withstand wear and also make it resistant to washing in higher temperatures. One can argue whether this is positive or not since these kind of leathers have a bigger negative effect on the environment. I personally kind of like the idea of branding being visible when the product is new, but that it will come off with time and wear and that eventually, only traces will show where the branding used to be. Anyway, the leather patches on older denim garments are usually referred to as "beef jerky" or "jerky tag" due to the fact that they will shrink and dry out when washed a few times. You can still see that this model is known as Lot 503ZXX, the children's version of the 501, and the "Z" lets us know that this pair has a Zipper fly, just like the 501's from this era. XX stands for "extra heavy denim" and these ones are in size Waist 22 Length 20.
When it comes to the Red Tab it's the same as the ones used on the 501 and the only thing that's a little bit strange on this pair is that the Red Tab is a double sided, meaning that the text LEVi'S is written on both sides of the red tab. If we are to believe what is said when it comes to determining the age of a pair of Levi's 501, the Red Tab on a pair of 501z from 1954 should have a single sided Red Tab and the double sided was introduced in 1958 with the new paper tag a few years earlier. So that points us to dating this pair of toddlers jeans to around 1958.
Through the years I have seen a lot of details on jeans that does'nt really match what I know about the year it was used, and I have stopped being laying heavy focus on learning exactly when something changed. I think it's more interesting to know why they evolved and what details that has survived up until today than to know every exact date of the denim history.
The coin pocket, previously used as a watch pocket on the early versions of waist overalls. This pocket looks like a tiny version of the ones on jeans for grownups but I can't think of anything so small that could be usable to store in this tiny pocket!
There is also a line of selvage in the coin pocket, just like there was on a pair of 501's from that time.
The top button on the toddler jeans is however changed into a snap button rather then the regular button and button hole that you will find on the 501. This just made it easier to button and unbutton the jeans.
When you unbutton the jeans you also find the signature "V-stitch", the V-shaped end of the seam that goes on top of the lining. This was just an effective way to end the seam but it also became one of the details that's strongly associated with a pair of vintage Levi's and today it's used by many brands. I would say that copying this kind of seam is a way to show that you know your history and that the nice details don't necessary have to be what first meets the eye.
The Talon zipper is in normal scale.
Fastening the back pockets we find the so called "Hidden rivets". Rivets were used for fastening the back pockets since the start of the brand in 1873 and up until 1937 the rivets were exposed. After complaints about the rivets scratching up upholstery Levi's came up with the idea of hiding them and started marketing them by saying "The rivets are still there". In 1966 Levis decided to stop making riveted back pockets and that has been the standard up un til this day.
On the legs we find the selvage edges. It still amazes me that they actually made the toddlers jeans with selvage and Im curious to know what they did with the fabric that must have been in excess between the edges of the fabric. If somebody knows, please write us a comment and the same goes if you think I missed something telling the story of this tiny and adorable pair of jeans!
Last week we changed subject from vintage clothing to vintage sewing machines and if you think that might be of interest you can read more about it right here!