Wrangler Blue Bell 1964 11MW-B – 4 year update

Another quick update, this time of my Made in Japan edition of Wrangler’s Blue Bell 1964 11MW-B reproduction. This particular pair is an early pair made by Edwin Japan – other more prestigious reproduction brands have also tried their hands at Blue Bells – unfortunately nowadays Blue Bell reproductions are no longer made in Japan, with a subsequent downgrade in quality of make and specificity of reproduction.

Anyway, let’s take a look – worn around 2 months every year since 2011:

As expected of a loose fit and slow crocking denim, I’m getting fairly decent whiskering but pretty much no honey-combing. The discernible cast in the fading – pure blue.

Lots of little aging details on this one, despite the lack of contrast. Have a look at the hems, waistband, fly, inseam and outseam.

A few things to note in this pair that I may not have explained in the initial post back in 2011:

  • The 14 oz denim was the world’s heaviest in the early 1960s
  • The 11MW was one of the first pants to be marketed as “jeans”, rather than “dungarees”.
  • The hems were lock-stitched instead of chain-stitched, to provide better strength for cowboys, workers and rodeo riders.
  • For similar durability reasons the patches were made with plastic!
  • The rivets used were dome-shaped, to avoid scratching anything – Levi’s went the hidden route, whereas Lee used cross bar-tacking.

Despite the denim not being deliberately irregular, I am getting a fair amount of vertical fading due to the loom-chattering.

The denim is a very hard-wearing 14 oz sanforised fabric. One of the slowest fading yet most durable pure cotton denims I’ve come across.

The front pocket shape is also much more user friendly compared with Levi’s style jeans.

Interestingly, I am getting a lot of button fading at the fly, despite the pants being a looser old-style cut.

The stitching on this pair is done with polyester, and have held up very well and remained colour fast.

The rivets have coloured up with use.

The plastic patch? Barely changed.

The horizontal tonal stitching on the back-pockets are revealed with wear, demonstrating what is actually a pretty busy pocket design.

Very intriguing also is the apparent ridging that occurs still, even without the classic chain-stitch.

The pattern here is much more vertical though.

As a side note, I don’t think it is accurate to say that only chain-stitch can produce a rippling hem fade. Chain-stitching produces a particular type of hem fade, which will vary depending on the machine used, how much the denim shrinks, the type of thread used and whether the jeans are re-hemmed after the first wash.

All in all, a really fun pair! A study in vintage detailing as well as the early features of 5-pocket jeans modernization.

I’ve grown to really enjoy Wrangler reproductions πŸ™‚

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