There are approximately six patches on the front of Rachael Wang’s vintage Orange Tab Levi’s, and six on the back. I say approximately because it’s hard to see where some of the ones that overlap each other on the bum begin and end. And do the roses on her back right pocket count? Possibly, if there are holes behind them. “I’ve split the back and the knees too many times to count,” said Rachael, who is Style.com’s fashion market director, when I asked her if she was responsible for all that wear and tear. Well, no. Rachael’s jeans – which might be 606s, we agree, though they’ve lost their back tag, so we’ll never know for sure – came with most of their patches and ladylike decorations. They were found at a Nifty Thrifty warehouse sale and, because they fit her so perfectly, given to Rachael for free. Every Levi’s lover’s vintage karma should be so good.
At home in Greenpoint, Brooklyn where she lives with her husband Daniel, Rachael wore her Levi’s with white lace-up Tretorn sneakers and a soft blue-and-white striped button down. “I don’t know what it is, it’s my husband’s,” she said about the shirt. About her apartment, decorated with a colorful mix of things – a hot-pink Roxy surfboard (that she can ride; she’s a Cali girl from Manhattan Beach, btw), a Moroccan rug bought via Etsy, electric guitars (Daniel’s) – Rachael said, “My jeans are totally in their element here. They’re actually a lot like home: quirky, eclectic, casual.”
How long have you had these Levi’s you’re wearing, and where did you get them?
I snagged them a couple years back at a Nifty Thrifty warehouse sale. I actually bought so many other things, the owner, Topper, threw them in for free.
Describe them for me in one word?
I love that so much attention and care has gone into personalizing them. They’re vintage, and I inherited them almost exactly as they are: ripped, repaired, restructured, and patched to idiosyncratic perfection.
What’s the most memorable place they’ve been?
Who knows if they’ve traveled the world over with previous owners, but at very least they’ve climbed Machu Picchu with me.
What’s the weirdest place?
If you could go anywhere in the world in them tomorrow, where would you go?
The steppes of Mongolia
If you were to give them a theme song, what would it be?
‘The Passenger’ by Iggy Pop
Click on a picture to get closer…
Who besides you has worn these Levi’s?
Your guess is as good as mine!
What do they reveal or reflect about the way that you live on a daily basis?
I live pretty hard, I guess, and these jeans reflect that. I’ve split the bum and the knees too many times to count.
How do they help you do what you love to do?
I love to connect with people and they’re a great conversation starter.
What’s the best possible ending you could imagine for them?
They should live as many lives as a cat. When I’m through, I’ll donate them and put them back into the ether.
What’s the best possible thing you could be doing in them right now?
OK, now tell us about your Top Three jeans of all time…
My favorite jeans growing up were a pretty classic pair of OshKosh B’gosh overalls that I wore exclusively to climb trees, catch butterflies, and make mud pie. When I got a little older, my Levi’s 501 cut-offs and I were inseparable. I would pull them on over still-wet bikinis and pedal my beach cruiser uphill to get strawberry ice cream from the parlor in town. In high school, I stage-dived at sweaty clubs in skin-tight black jeans from Tripp NYC, a Black Flag t-shirt, and a buzzcut.
Nice. What’s your favorite way to wear denim today?
Cropped and without socks.
Is there something you need your denim to be, always?
Any rules for wearing jeans? Do’s and don’t’s?
There are no rules.
Is there a pair you still own from a previous life (i.e. before you got married, or moved to New York, or started working in fashion), that you keep for sentimental reasons only?
I have tons of jeans from my previous life, mostly cut-offs, actually, because I’m a beach kid at heart.
Are you sentimental about your denim? Or do you love them and leave them?
I’m only sentimental about the old ones I’ve found in flea markets and thrift shops. New jeans I couldn’t really care less about. Actually that’s a lie. I bought my first pair of Junya Watanabe patchwork jeans last year that I would be pretty devastated to lose.
Is there someone who you think wears denim best?
My husband wears denim in precisely the way denim was made to be worn. He owns exactly two pairs, one black and one raw blue, and he wears them every single day, rain or shine, to work, to play, and to party. They’ve completely molded to his body, and they look great.
What denim are you looking forward to wearing next season?
Do you think you’ll wear jeans forever?