Levi’s jeans from the 1880s sell for more than $87,000 at auction
A pair of Levi’s worn and torn more than a century ago sold for a whopping $87,000 at a New Mexico auction.
The jeans were discovered a few years ago in an abandoned mine shaft and purchased by two vintage clothing collectors for more than $75,000 plus a 15% buyer’s premium.
Denim duo Kyle Hautner and Zip Stevenson bid at the Durango Vintage Festivus and won the expensive pair of jeans with frayed hems, fading, paint stains and more than a few holes.
Despite the wear and tear, the pants are “super-duper solid jeans” and could actually be worn again because of their durability, said Stevenson, who runs a denim repair shop in Los Angeles.
“I could well imagine Johnny Depp or Jason Momoa wearing them,” he told CNN in an interview.
According to Stevenson, few pairs that old remain and most are not as well preserved.
“These jeans are extremely rare – especially in this fantastic worn condition and size,” he added.
The floors are also an artifact of America’s sometimes troubled history.
“The only kind made by White Labor” is written on an inside pocket of the jeans, alluding to the hatred against China that was growing at the time.
“An economic crisis in the United States in [the] The 1870s brought high unemployment and fueled anti-Chinese sentiment and rampant discrimination,” a spokesman for Levi Strauss & Co. said in a statement to NPR. “When Congress passed the Chinese Exclusion Act in 1882, there was significant social pressure not to hire Chinese workers and LS&Co. introduced an anti-Chinese labor policy.”
China’s Exclusion Law banned Chinese workers from entering the United States for 10 years.
According to NPR, Levi’s believed that marketing its clothes as “made by white labor” would increase sales by conforming to the views of Americans at the time.
The spokesman admitted that the company sometimes “failed to live up to” its commitment to “be a positive force for equality and racial justice.”
Levi’s reversed labor policies in the 1890s.
Stevenson hopes the jeans will be bought and displayed in a museum like the Smithsonian or the Metropolitan Museum of Art so others can see the history sewn into them, he told CNN.
He currently keeps the denim artifact in a bank vault at his Los Angeles store, Denim Doctors. Admirers can book a viewing by appointment.