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LEVI’S® VINTAGE CLOTHING: FALL/WINTER 2022

Make It Yours
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Levi’s® Vintage Clothing’s new collection, Blue Daze, is an homage to the Black jazz musicians of the late ’50s and early ’60s who revolutionized music, jazz—and the world—forever. Design Director Paul O’Neill takes us behind the scenes.

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THE INSPIRATION

“Around 1959, a series of records came out in which jazz musicians rejected musical norms for personal expression, forever changing how things were perceived. You hear about psychedelic rock bands improvising long jams, but what you don’t hear is that they were inspired by these musicians.

Also, you know, they looked great! People don't immediately think of Levi's® when they think of their style—they think of suits—but when you look closer, they were also dressed in the kind of casual wear that Levi's® was producing at the time, like our Sta-Prest® trousers and button-up shirts. In many archival images where they’re practicing or recording, they're wearing jeans.”

“IT WAS INSPIRING TO SEE HOW THESE MUSICIANS DRESSED WHEN THEY WEREN’T ONSTAGE OR BEING PHOTOGRAPHED FOR A RECORD SLEEVE.”

—PAUL O’NEILL, DESIGN DIRECTOR, LEVI’S® VINTAGE CLOTHING

THE CLOTHES

“Blue Daze focuses on Stitch-for-Stitch reproductions in shades of blue and earthy tones, and patterns inspired by the art of the times—harlequin, vertical stripes, intricate shapes, bold color blocking. Styles that were big in the late ’50s. Oversized houndstooth, 14-wale corduroy. The Levi’s® 1920s balloon Jeans are really cool—basically a trouser style with a high waist, like a really wide-leg chino but in a very lightweight denim.

And the 1960s Sta-Prest® Jags. The idea is that you should be able to wash them 30 times and they’ll still be perfectly pressed, you know? Sta-Prest® was a big thing that Levi’s® started in 1964. It was a huge success with college students—this kind of crisp Ivy League look. It was also really big with the mods in the U.K. In certain subcultures today, Sta-Prest® trousers are really sought after.”

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“WITHIN SECONDS, EVERYTHING SOUNDED AMAZING. IT WAS PRETTY MAGICAL FOR US TO HEAR.”

—PAUL O’NEILL, DESIGN DIRECTOR, LEVI’S® VINTAGE CLOTHING

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THE CASTING

“Before Covid, we’d spend a week running around whatever city we were gonna shoot in to find the right people—we always use real people from the scene. When we shot a collection about 1920s boxers, we used amateur boxers, because if you put a model in a boxing ring, he doesn't look like a boxer. So you get a jazz musician to play a jazz musician.

For Blue Daze, we reached out to a small jazz venue in New York and got some contacts and things just spiraled. All of a sudden, we had a big network of up-and-coming jazz musicians. Normally, we'd be in New York meeting up with these guys—chatting with them and photographing them—but this time all the prep work was online.”

THE SHOOT

“We shot at a studio where pretty much all the iconic jazz records of the ’50s, ’60s and ’70s were recorded. At first, the long-time engineers were a bit skeptical and didn’t know what to expect. They were like, do we really want some fashion thing going on here? But when we turned up and the musicians started to improvise, they got really excited. It was inspiring.

One or two of the musicians had played together, but most of them had never met. Someone just started playing, and they all joined in. Within seconds, everything sounded amazing. They were all very experienced and could read off each other. It was pretty magical for us to hear.”

Levi’s® Vintage Clothing Blue Haze collection is now available at Levi’s® Silvercord store and on levi.com.hk.

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