There has been an
outbreak of knock-off items over the last several years. One of the
most popular items of clothing has been Levi's.
Not only are knock-offs manufactured, they also target the vintage
market because that is where the money is hence a greater return.
Most fake Levi's are 'Vintage' 501s with all or some of the details
that make real vintage levi jeans valuable. These can include:
-The Red Tab with capital 'E" which date real levi's to pre-1971
-V-Stitch near the top button. Another vintage characteristic
-Buckle on the rear (Buckleback)
-Bar tacked Rear Pockets
Most come from Thailand where they are made with cheap labor and
materials. The denim used for the most part is of average
quality, if not better than average. But the hardware used:
Buttons, rivets, etc. are normally of inferior quality.
In order to get the 'lived in' look and fade, Thai
manufacturers apparently sell these jeans to Thai laborers at a very
low price (less than $5 has been rumored) and are told to wear the
jeans for a certain length of time - 6 months to a year for example,
and NOT WASH THEM! the manufacturers then buy back the jeans,
repair and clean them up, and sell them to tourists, exporters or on
ebay for much higher prices than they are worth.
A quick search on ebay of 'levi big e' will almost always
reveal anywhere from 1-2 fake pieces to almost 100 in some cases.
Ebay seem to be doing very little in trying to remove these
items from their site. Heres how to spot them:
Number on back of top
always stamped '501' off-center or not stamped at all. While
some non-vintage authentic 501s may have this stamped on them, vintage
will always have a single digit or letter stamped (6, 5, 2, W) or
blank, but if it is blank, there are usually punch marks on it.
Elongated 'V-Stitch' on
fly: Another common characteristic of fakes
Real (pair of Japan LVC repros)
Note how this pair of fakes has '501' poorly imprinted on the
rear of the button. Also the long V-stitch as well. The
picture of the real one to the right shows the stitch ending at the
Rear Patch: The rear patch on the right hip can also give
clues to whether or not the garment is authentic.
If it is a hard leather like material, the jeans are suspect.
Unless the jeans are from the 1930s and the patch has a
'jerky' look to it, very few other Levi's have or had a real leather
like patch. Although this is not a surefire way of telling
because some in the LVC (Levi
vintage clothing line) and ones produced in
places other than the United States (Japan, Canada for example) did
actually come with a hard leather patch.
- Labeling: Another
clue is the printing on the patch. If the patch
material seems authentic, most times the printing is not. It
is either off center, spelling mistakes, or barring all of that not
being present they are labeled '501-0657' in black ink. If
the jeans are anything other than black 501s from the 1980s - if they
have that on the label than they are fake.
Note the white patch - Definate sign of fakes
accurate patch although a bit off color, the rear buckle and exposed
selvedge give away that this is a pair of fakes