The Artist and the 1944 S501XX
The third participant in our Levi’s Vintage Clothing Wear & Tear Project is an oldtimer in the world of vintage denim. He has been collecting since the early 90s and for some years now he has been writing on his own niche denim blog, MHP’s Denim Projects. But he’s also the artist of our little group; here’s his story.
Tell us about yourself
My name is Mikkel H. Petersen, I’m 39 years old, I live in Gentofte (north of Copenhagen), and I work as a photographer and painter.
Why did you join this project?
I think this project is interesting because shrink-to-fit denim is difficult to figure out no matter how experience you have with it. It is crucial to be aware of how much each different type of denim shrinks when washed before choosing your size since it’s hard to imaging what the jeans will look and fit like once washed. Additionally, I think it’s interesting to know how each type of denim ages after use and wash.
It’s certainly the kind of information I examine every time I buy new jeans and I love to be able to contribute with this information for future Levi’s Vintage Clothing-owners, so I naturally said yes to participate in the project. I specifically chose the 1944 S501XX because it has a lot of different exciting details such as the painted arcuates on the back pockets, donut buttons, and the green fabric of front pocket bags, which is a reference to the rationalisation during WWII.
What’s your favorite outfit?
Something simple, classical and of good quality. I feel really good when I’m wearing a leather jacket, t-shirt, jeans and boots (or sneakers).
What do you love the musts about denim?
Denim is a fantastic material. It’s timeless and durable. Almost everyone can relate to denim regardless of social class, age or gender, and the possibilities of how to use it are endless. The indigo colour of a brand new pair of dry denim jeans is unique because it can be both blue, black, purple or greenish at the same time depending on the light in which you see it.
I like denim in all its phases. New, slightly worn in and totally worn out. Personally I prefer “vintage” denim and when I buy new jeans they’re always dry. What I love the most about denim is arguably the contrast and colour play the occurs in a pair of jeans that are totally worn out. They tell a story about the person who has worn them.
If I had to describe my passion for denim with a slightly more geeky approach the “train tracks” are probably what I love the most about a pair of worn in jeans. I like denim that twists a bit and gets a little skewed. For me a denim weight of 14-15 oz. is ideal.
Do you collect anything?
I’ve been collection vintage denim since the early 90s and I’ve found many funny things in secondhand store and on eBay. My best find is a pair of deadstock Levi’s jeans from the late 40s still with tags and everything.
How do you wear your jeans – any special routines?
There are many rules in the world of dry denim and some mistakenly believe that jeans will be ”destroyed” by machine washing. Denim was originally intended to be work clothes and it can withstand being used and washed. There is nothing that is right or wrong when it comes to the question of washing your jeans. It all depends on what you like and what look you want to achieve. If you like light coloured jeans then just wash away. If you on the other hand like dark jeans then you should wash them as little as possible and preferably in cold water. It’s hard work to wear in a pair of jeans, but if you keep it up the results will be good in the end.
I like jeans with high contrasts that look worn out, so for me to get the look I’m after I wear my jeans for 6 months or more before I wash them the first time. After the first wash they are washed every 1 to 3 months, still I wash them when they need it, but I always try to wait as long as possible with the first wash. I normally wash at approximately 40 degrees celcius with a little detergent without bleach or a cup of vinegar and a little salt. Sometimes, if I want them to shrink a little extra I wash at 60 degrees the first time.
So far for this project I’ve washed my jeans once at 40 degrees (wool programme) before I started wearing them. These are the before and after fit pictures, there’s a significant difference.
Below are the before and after measurements of the jeans in centimeters, they’re size 34×36: