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April 11th, 2007

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10:19 am - It's Official: Levi's are Dead to Me
After years of sitting around hoping, I finally got desperate enough sitting around watching my pants wear out to call Levi's back, to find out the state of affairs around the Original Spin program.

You see, for a few years, it was possible to go into a Levi's store, try on some prototype pants to establish the fit one wanted, then pick a fabric and style off the wall, write down an inseam and waist size, and wait a few weeks for a pair of pants custom-made to one's specifications to be delivered to the store. Just like ordering a new car from the factory, really.

In high school, by digging through rack after rack of pants, I could eventually find something in my size. Well, by "in my size" I mean something narrow enough to not actually fall off my hips, and just barely long enough to not make me look ridiculous. It wasn't until I started ordering jeans through Original Spin that I realized that I don't have a 30" waist. I have a 27 to 28" waist, but I'd simply never in my life seen a pair of pants smaller than 30 that had the required 36" inseam.

My best Spin jeans (and cargo pants and cords and twill) are mostly R284 with a 40" inseam. The extra four inches is enough to allow me to roll a 2" cuff into the pants and still have them long enough to break across my shoe. You see, a cuff makes a leg look shorter. Naturally, if one is tall enough to actually want or need a cuff, the pants are too short to make one with out turning them into capri pants. The "R284" means "Relaxed fit, 28 waist, +4 at hips." I also have a couple pair that are R275: one inch narrower in the waist, but the same size at the hips.

Four years ago, without warning, Original Spin disappeared. Turns out they'd been making the jeans at a factory in Texas, and they'd closed the factory.

[ring] [ring]

"Hello, Levi Strauss & co."

"Where am I going to get pants now?"

"Your Levi's store can special order anything we manufacture. What size do you wear?"

"28 x 40."

[pause] "I'm very sorry sir. Hopefully we'll have the Original Spin program back soon."

So I waited, and bit by bit, my pants have been wearing out. So a few weeks ago, on the way back from Portland, I stopped at the Auburn Supermall, and the Levi's Outlet store there. This used to be my main source for jeans. They usually had at least a few pairs of something in 30x36.

Not this time. Nor did any other store in the mall. Now, I know that the Gap makes some pants in 28x36, because I've bought a couple of pair through eBay. They're the right size, technically, although they don't fit nearly as well as my R284's. They don't have the 'extra wide' (read, not disconcertingly narrow-looking) leg of my Levi's, but at least they're long enough, and don't have to be cinched up at the waist like some kind of hillbilly pants.

But they don't actually carry that length in the store. At all. For anybody. Of any waist size. No 36" inseam pants. Period.

So today I called Levi's, to bug them about the Spin program. While looking up their number, I also indulged my curiosity and poked around levisstore.com. The site doesn't allow me to actually shop by size. I have to pick a specific type of pant, then see what sizes I can get. That was getting me nowhere, so when I phoned them, I also mentioned that I couldn't even find poorly-fitting Levi's any more.

The response was quite illuminating. No wonder the outlet store didn't have anything in my old not-really-my-size. Levi's no longer makes anything longer than 32" inseams for a 30" waist, or conversely, the smallest size with a 36" inseam has a waist measurement of 34".

Oh, poor ignorant me, to think that the ballooning waistlines of chubby Americans wasn't directly detrimental to me personally.

Apparently I'm going to have to start taking trips to Norway to buy pants, or start wearing shorts in November.

* * *

Yes, I know there are tailors who make clothes. But I'm not looking for fancy dress pants; I'm looking for casual wear, like jeans. Casual pants, with their coin pockets and rivets and contrasting stitching and thicker, stiffer fabric, are quite a bit more difficult to sew than dress pants. I'm not (yet (quite)) ready to spend hundreds of dollars for a single pair of custom-tailored jeans.
Current Mood: aggravatedaggravated

(13 comments | Leave a comment)


[User Picture]
Date:April 12th, 2007 01:15 am (UTC)

Hip Hip Hooray.

I'm definitely going to have to call Land's End before I order pants. There's one other wrinkle in the sizology fabric.

I mentioned the "R284" designation for my Spin pants above. I don't know exactly what "4" part of that means. If I had to guess, i'd say probably +4 inches in hips/seat vs. the waist. For the 27" pants, the size that fits is R275. What was really mystifying was that the available sizes ranged from R270 to R275. In other words, if I didn't get the maximum available room for my hiney, they'd be uncomfortably tight.

Which seemed completely preposterous. I do NOT have a big ass! Quite the opposite! I have practically no ass at all, which is one reason why getting the waist small enough is so important: I need all the waist-to-butt contrast I can get to avoid having my profile be indistinguishable from that of a postcard or popsicle stick.

So how could I be at the upper end of this range? A short Mars/Venus digression. Some years ago, a study was done showing men from a variety of different cultures various female silhouettes. Not too surprisingly, men from some cultures (for example, Greece or Italy) would generally select from the wider, more voluptuous options, while other men (American or Norwegian, perhaps) would tend toward the more anemic side of the range.

But all of them consistently chose outlines with a 0.7 waist to hip ratio. Whether they preferred "36-24-36" or something more like "44-32-48", all men found the 0.7 ratio the most attractive. Not surprisingly, this is the common, expected ratio for women in general. Men, on the other hand, between the narrower pelvis (no babies to move through there) and wider waist, will normally have a ratio of 0.9.

I (as any of my friends, and even most strangers, will testify) am not normal. In fact, my waist to hip ratio is . . . 0.7. That is why I needed to get pants at the "big ass" end of the scale: not extra room in the seat, but extra width at the hips.

It's not entirely clear that the information Land's End's website solicits will allow them to deduce that information. I think I'm going to talk to a human and learn a bit more, first. Nevertheless, the custom-fit program at Land's End shows a lot of promise. La la la!
Date:April 13th, 2007 04:52 pm (UTC)

Re: Hip Hip Hooray.

Huzzah! I hope it works out for you!


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