There is nothing more disappointing and frustrating than finding the perfect pair of original Levi's, buying them from a seemingly trustworthy dealer and then discovering that you have spent money to purchase a pair of fakes. Unfortunately, there are a growing number of shady manufacturers who are trying to cash in on the popularity of a pair of original Levi's. There are a few steps you can take to spot if the jeans you are coveting are the real deal or not.
Inspect the overall quality of the jeans. Not only should the denim be of a good quality, but the hardware, such as the buttons, buckles, and rivets should be as well. Most counterfeits are made of a cheap denim material or with average material but shoddy hardware.
Look at the button. Levi's made before 1971 will have a single digit or letter stamped on it, usually a 6, 5, 2, or W. Levi's made after 1971 will sometimes have three digits stamped on the buttons, usually 501, 524, 558, 555, or 554.
Flip the jeans around and check the rear patch. Newer jeans will have a patch made of soft leather. Levi's made from the 1930s may feature a rough-textured leather patch. The patch should be a natural tan to a light brown colour, and not white, dark brown, or other colour variations. The actual label is centred to the far right on the back. The text will not be off-centre or contain misspelled words.
Inspect the care tag carefully on the inside of the jeans. The instructions should not be written in broken English or feature any type of typos. If any are present, this is an indication that this pair of jeans is a counterfeit.
Look at the stitching on the back pockets carefully. The stitching at the top of the pockets are single or double-stitched and are secured with rivets at the end of the stitching. The red tab on the side of the pocket will be stitched and reinforced. The tab will have Levi's stitched on it with a Big 'E' on the side of the name. Levi's produced after 1971 will feature the little 'e' next to the name.
Buy your jeans from an authorised Levi's outlet or from a dealer who is reputable and known for selling authentic brands. If you are shopping from a vintage shop or outlet mall, ask many questions and inspect the jeans closely, if possible. Recently manufactured Levis labels will have '501-0657' in black ink at the bottom.