A very warm welcome to beautiful_FrEaK, who brings us the first in-depth review of this reproduction masterpiece from Conners Sewing Factory.
If you’ve been in this hobby for a while or frequent any of the denim forums, you’ll likely be familiar with beautiful_FrEaK and his detailed knowledge regarding Japanese denim jeans.
Here is the first in hopefully a series of special articles by the Samurai mannequin himself – beautiful_FrEaK’s review of “One Piece of Rock” S490XXX M-47:
Words & photos by beautiful_FrEaK. Editing & formatting by indigoshrimp.
This is my review of the “One Piece of Rock” jeans made by the hands (and vintage machines) of Yoshiaki Konaka.
The model under discussion is the S409XXX M-47, which – as the name suggests – is a reproduction of the Levi’s 501 jeans from 1947. All of Yoshiaki’s working steps and utilised machines are period correct, in order to create the feeling of owning an original vintage pair of Levi’s from 1947. This entails, of course, all the pros & cons of such an endeavor.
These jeans have a very high rise with a trim top block. This is in contrast to the thighs, which are on the smaller side. The leg is straight with a slight taper, resulting in a leg opening of 9.25″ pre-soak. This pair hugs your hips and thus fits snugly in the top block.
The waist is slightly undersized compared to the tag size (muffin-top alert!) As the leg width is on the looser side, these jeans may be nicely paired with boots or shoes like Chucks.
The denim is rather uniform in appearance, dyed to a medium shade of indigo. It has a silky hand and a slick surface. Pre-soak, the denim is fairly pliable and doesn’t seem to be starched excessively.
I cannot be certain as to the origin of the cotton or the weight of the denim (I’d guess between 13-14 oz) as this information is not currently available. This fabric really reminds me of Cone Mills denim, but it remains to be seen how it will evolve. There are some irregularities and little slubs, but this is subtle.
The denim from Warehouse and Full Count have more “character” from the get go. As such, people who would consider denim from Oni, Samurai or Pure Blue Japan as interesting may not find the appeal of the denim used on this pair.
I don’t know who had woven this denim for Conner’s and I’m not sure if this denim is more true to the original Levi’s denim than, for example, Warehouse’s “Banner Denim”, which had been carefully developed by Warehouse to be a true reproduction.
The finer details are where Conners’ really shine. The astounding fact that only period-correct sewing machines & materials have been used can’t be rated highly enough!
The stitchings aren’t as regular & clean compared with makers such as Roy Slaper, Rio & Hiro at Ooe Yofukuten & Co. or Studio d’Artisan. There are loose threads hanging about everywhere. However, Yoshiaki doesn’t strive for perfect sewing or the cleanest finish…the goal he has is to create the perfect reproduction, which would necessarily include all the associated imperfections. For example, the fabric is hand-folded and not ironed – resulting in the particular look of the seams, edges and stitches. In particular, Yoshiaki took inspiration from the 3000-strong collection of vintage Levi’s jeans belonging to Yawara Miura.
It is wabi-sabi from the beginning.
There are certainly ‘better’ designed pairs of jeans out there which have eradicated the little flaws of the old style of jeans making, and are cleaner in construction compared with this Connors Sewing Factory reproduction.
However, if you are looking for the perfect Levi’s reproduction – and can’t or don’t want to purchase an original vintage Levi’s 501 – then this “One Piece of Rock” S409XXX M-47 might be the single best option on the market at this point in time.
Post-soak measurements –
Front rise: 12.2″
Back rise: 16.5″
Leg opening: 9″