The Blog from Oi Polloi presents:

You may or may not have heard… but we’ve made some jeans with Levi’s.

Taking influence from two seemingly-disparate sub-cultures, we’ve hoiked the super-sharp jeans from the early days of Northern Soul, and fused them with the laid-back, washed-out denim favoured by San Francisco hippy drop-outs.

They’re cunningly called the Levi’s Oi Polloi 511 jeans, and they go on sale at 10:00am on Thursday the 3rd of November.

Until then, here’s what Oi Polloi main-men Steve and Nigel have to say about them, along with some photos of their trip to see them being made in San Francisco...

Nigel: 

I got my first pair of Levi’s from a guy called Zip Code in Affleck’s Palace. They were second hand from the States. Back then, the second hand ones were more sought after then the new ones because they were seen as ‘vintage’. In and around 1983 and ’84 people stopped wanting to wear trainers and tracksuits, and started wearing second hand clothes.

The Smiths had a hell of a lot to do with that. Supposedly the big turn-up that Japanese people had on their jeans in the 90s came from Morrissey. He was really into the 50s and was obsessed with these bleak Northern heroes.

Affleck’s Palace was the place where people would go and look for MA-1 jackets, Dr Martens and denim shirts, and Zip Code was one of the guys in Manchester who started going to the States. He’d get flight jackets, Levi’s jeans, Converse and painted kipper ties. Maybe a bit of Brooks Brothers stuff and Burberry too. It was this retrospective thing. Some of it was workwear, but it was a casual thing. We weren’t going to work in Levi’s. It’s like Converse All Stars, they’re basketball shoes, but we weren’t wearing them for basketball.

You couldn’t really get Levi’s in England until the late 70s. Before then, you had to be really in the know to get them. Maybe you’d been over to America or something. A normal pair of jeans in the 60s was about a quid, but Levi’s were like ten quid, so they were sought after by mods.

With Warrington having the airbase and stuff like that, there must have been bits of Levi’s stuff knocking about in the North West, but to get them they were really, really expensive. Back then, it was a showing off thing, because they were expensive.

There’s an abundance of black clothes that I see people wearing. Everyone wore black stuff in the 80s — it’s never gone away — but I don’t. I don’t want to fit in with that. To me, clothes should be softer on the eye — less strict. White Levi’s were such a Hacienda thing. I’d wear them with a long sleeved patterned t-shirt like Sonny Bono. It was that beatnik look. There was this other old advert where there was this girl on a scooter with white Levi’s on, which goes back to the mod thing.

And then we’ve got cornflower blue and pale mint green. There was a cool picture I saw in a 1960s American GQ. This guy was sat on the floor with his legs crossed, and no shoes and socks on. He’s got a pair of pale blue STA Prest white tabs, and a pale blue, matching white tab shirt. I think it was an advert. He was something between a beatnik and a hippy.

When we went over to San Francisco, the jeans looked exactly how I’d imagined. I reckon I’ll try and get a pair of each.

Steve:

In the early 80s I was wearing semi-flared needle-cord Levi’s. Before that I was into jumbo-cords that we used to take in and then split at the hem. But then we got into semi-flares so they sat right on your trainers.

I used to live in Ashton, but we used to have to go to Manchester to buy semi-flares. There were some mad jeans shops around, but no one in Ashton was wearing semi-flares, so you had to go into Manchester. When you’d come back, people would say, “What the fuck are they?”

And then we got into 501s and 518s. And then more straight leg cords. In the mid-80s there was loads of vintage stores in the centre of Manchester. There was one near where Vinyl Exchange is that sold loads of 50s Americana stuff… a lot of Levi’s and a lot of baseball jackets.

Towards the back end of the 80s, I was wearing a lot of denim. We used to buy a lot of vintage Levi’s, oversize. We were going out, and not eating much, but buying 36 waist jeans and cinching them in. Thinking back now, it was pretty mad.

The ones we’ve made are a bit of a mixture. Towards the back end of the 80s, there was a lot of coloured denim knocking about, made by people like Paul Smith and Katherine Hamnett. There’d be matching denim jackets and jeans. But our jeans are a bit of a throwback to the 60s stuff. They’ve got that slim, 60s shape, but they feel right for today. It’s not about dressing up from a certain period, that’s a bit weird.

The jeans will be available at approximately at 10:00am (GMT) on Thursday the 3rd of November. See them here. 

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The people say...

  • Patrick N

    I agree with Dsykes above. I got my first Levi’s in 1964 and they cost 39/11, that is 1 pound nine shillings and 11 pence, about £1.50. But they were expensive because ordinary jeans were less than a pound. They were zxx 501 ( I still have a pair). The Z meant that they had a zip instead of the button fly. These were manufactured by Levi’s for the East Coast Market becuse they figure that rich city folk would be put off by the button fly that the mid west ‘hicks’ were OK with. They had all the classic 501 elements ‘Big E’ red tab, hidden rivets in back pockets and selvedge. As a first time round Mod I had to have a pair for more casual events (like going to see he Who, or to see Howlin’ Wolf at the Marquee), when a slick ‘Tonik’ suit would not be suitable. Happy days.

  • Jurgen Klopp

    The love of iconic practical style is my motivation. Denim has a quality that will ever evolve timelessly. Elasticated or draw cord jog pants flatter the unimaginative and leave ever expanding free ruin to waist!
    Exploring the tactile essences of denim can liberate the magnificent emotion of self awareness. Durability is a lifestyle in the enlightened times urban thread wear. Rivets ensure determination in the textile cortex. And that little pocket just above the main hip pocket has legendary status among the most clandestine users of controlled substance.
    A classic reworking staying forever in line braggadocio.
    And they look good too ☺

  • DArryl sYkes

    Who says you couldn’t get Levi’s until the late 70s ,load of rubbish it was 1967 when I got my first pair

  • Stephen Krinkle

    Nice job boys………..are the jeans selvedge ?

  • David Marsh

    Remember the jeans and cords and split hems and semi flares from following Liverpool all over the country… Manchester and Liverpool had it going on way before London… they were similar and yet so different. I’ll nip up your Steve and try a pair of these on 34/32… D

  • H.Krinkle

    White jeans , white long sleeve top, white travel fox- perfect gear for spending the night in an old manky warehouse………Persil !

  • Gid

    Hi,
    The jeans look great from the pictures and the light blue in particular!
    How can I get my hands on a pair 32" 32"?
    Thanks

  • Mark

    Just read your blog , all I can say it must have been grim up north.

  • Neil

    Those pale blue numbers look fucking acemans

  • MEndle

    Cue the £200 price tag

  • MarcJ

    Felled seams would have been ace – these look mildly unfinished. Not trying to score point here just saying as it were.

  • Tristan T.

    No way! This punk rock venue I went to when I was a kid always had a box of free clothes and books. Once there were two pairs of old straight-legged levi’s chords in the box, brown and this same shade of blue y’all are using. Grabbed them wore them for days and days. So tight!

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