The oldest known pair of women’s jeans has been recently unearthed and something about them looks extremely, distressingly familiar.
The jeans in question were acquired by Levi Strauss & Co. on Tuesday, reports Time, and were purchased from a vintage collector who found them at an estate sale. They belonged to a teacher named Viola Longacre who died at the ripe old age of 100 in 2014; according to her daughter Bette, she wore them during the summers she spent in tents and cabins in the Sierra Mountains, attending classes at what was then called Fresno State College. Similar to the Lady Levis, which were the first pair of jeans marketed specifically towards women, these jeans are thought to be from the early 1930s. The Lady Levis were released in 1934. Historians speculate that these newly-discovered pants were perhaps an early prototype of the lady pant, produced to see whether or not women would, you know, want to wear jeans. It’s great for women: to be given the option to wear lady jeans in 1934.
These progressive-ass, 1930s-era, Sierra Mountain-mucking-about jeans are giving me Joan Didion on the weekends as a teenager. I’ve seen these jeans in my mind on some sort of rugged California blonde, all wind-chapped cheeks and practical footwear, strolling from one flapping canvas tent to another, squinting against a strong, bright sun.
But I’ve also seen these jeans everywhere. On my hair stylist. On that woman with the nice glasses at the Whole Foods squeezing mangoes. Madewell has these jeans. Everlane does too. Anthropologie has an entire section devoted to curious pant trends. These old-ass Levis are the earliest version of The Pants That Must Be Stopped.
What was old is new again. Fashion is a pot of apples bobbing in tepid water and designers are simply sticking their faces in and coming up with whatever they can get. Using the parlance of the first season of True Detective, I gotta say: fashion is a flat circle.