Oi Polloi

The Antiques Clothes Show: David's Jeans

Published: Thu Oct 30 2014

For this edition of the Antiques Clothes Show, Universal Works head honcho David Keyte takes a trip down memory lane with his Levi’s jeans. Let’s hear it David…

When I was approached to share an item of clothing from my past, I thought I’d need to pull apart my wardrobe to find something of interest. I love clothes, shoes and stuff, but don’t feel compelled to keep it after it’s no longer something I use.

Of course I wish I had kept that first CP Company jacket I had (pre Stone Island), that first Armani knit sweater with just the right badge for the terraces and those adidas Gazelle’s in a weird brown I had in a box for years. But it was not to be, I have simply given away, sold or lost all these during my moves from flat to house, to flat to house, girlfriend to wife to girlfriend (only joking Steph).

Anyway, I need not have worried, as the other day I stumbled upon a pair of humble, over-dyed 501 Levi’s in the bottom of a drawer that brought back some memories.

It was a while ago now, so I’m not one hundred percent sure on the exact date (I’m as bad with remembering dates as I’m keeping old clothing), but I think it was in 1982 when I went for my interview at Paul Smith.

With it being an interview with Mr Paul Smith I chose a suit I had bought from his store for my brother’s wedding — it cost me a month’s wages I’m sure. But feeling I was too ‘dressed up’ in a full-on suit I decided on a grey jacket with a pair of black Levi’s. 501’s were a bit rarer back then and few would have been over-dyed black. Oddly, jeans and a suit jacket was pretty fucking daring for a job interview in 1982, even if it does sound a bit lame today.

So I turned up to the interview to find that Paul and I were both wearing exactly the same jacket and the same over-dyed 501 Levi’s! I seem to remember he looked surprised, but he gave me a job that day — a job I had no idea how to do and was not qualified to do. The outfit, along with some blagging and lots of enthusiasm, must have helped.

It was my first real job in the clothing industry and I am always grateful to that outfit, and of course to the now Sir Paul Smith for his belief in me, which started me on the road to what I do now — a constant learning process that started in 1982. Or was it ‘83?

So weirdly while I don’t have many old garments of mine from back in the day these seem to be my lucky jeans. Oh, and did I mention that they still fit!

See some of David’s handiwork here