A pair of 125-year-old Levi Strauss & Co. blue jeans has sold for nearly US$100,000, setting a record for vintage denim, U.S. media said Saturday.
The pants which failed to sell at auction in 2016 were sold by an auction house in Maine on May 15 to a buyer in Southeast Asia.
“It’s somebody who loves old Levis,” said Daniel Buck Soules from Daniel Buck Auctions, who worked for 11 years on public television’s “Antiques Roadshow.”
At this old age, the jean comes with a fascinating backstory. The fabric was produced by a mill in New Hampshire on the East Coast, but the pants were manufactured in San Francisco on the West Coast.
The first owner of the pants was Solomon Warner, a store owner in Arizona who purchased them in 1893. Warner had barely worn them before his death, so the jeans stayed in good condition as they were passed down in the family throughout the years, helping preserve their value.
Levi had offered to buy back the pants for $50,000 dollars. Several features of the pants were distinctively different from today’s model, such as their single back pocket, and their lack of belt loops due to the popularity of suspenders in the 19th century.
Vintage denim is a sought-after item among many collectors. A pair of 501 jeans manufactured in the 1880s sold for $60,000 to a Japanese collector, Soules said, and another pair, from 1888, sold for six figures.
Analysts said that blue jeans are coveted because they have been deeply ingrained in the U.S. culture after their first appearance during the years of Western expansion.