Why Vintage Denim Beats New

I met Maria Oliveira and Ryan Lerma, the power couple behind Passport Vintage, to learn why vintage denim is so much better than new.
Why Vintage Denim Beats New

Passport Vintage in Austin, Texas, is a well-known denim destination since 2014. Maria and Ryan love vintage denim and want to make it accessible to everyone.

“After 2006, all affordable denim has been made with elastane which allows a skinny, comfortable fit. The change from 100% cotton to elastic denim has been a dramatic shift. You can only wear jeans made with elastane for a year or so because the elastane wears out fast and does not hold up. These jeans are not going to last 20 years to become vintage.

Unlike 100% cotton denim which can be mended and patched up, it is impossible to mend the elastic fabric once it is broken. That’s why denim made before 2006 is so much better.

The history of denim is rich and diverse. Everyone knows Levi’s, but there are also many brands that are not around anymore.

For example, Rio was a major brand in the 80s, but has since disappeared. Our dream is to find their archive because Rio has the ultimate cut: slim fit with tapered legs, very similar to popular Levi’s 512 but even better!

Bongo and Guess are other sought-after labels. Their jeans are high-waisted with slim-tapered leg, creating that perfect vintage fit that is popular now. Plain Pocket is a great knock-off Levi’s brand. They copied Levis completely and perfectly.

Wrangler Jeans began as Blue Bell Overall Company making traditional workwear and more stylish denim under the brand name Maverick. In 1943 Blue Bell bought a defunct brand called Wrangler and turned them into the brand we all know. Sometimes we come across vintage Maverick denim which looks exactly like Wrangler. Even the logo looks like Wrangler’s.

Finding the perfect pair of denim is all about the measurements. Measure your waist and hips and keep those numbers with you at all times.

Be ready to modify your vintage denim. Any alteration will cost some tens of dollars but is worth it for how you will look and feel in your denim. Invest time in finding a good tailor.

Just remember: Heat destroys clothes. If you want your denim to last long, wash with cold water and air-dry them. Often denim will shrink 1–2 sizes after washing them.

We love unique garments that someone decorated or customized themselves. We once had Levi’s 501 jeans which someone had painted roses all over. Another pair weighed 3 - 4 pounds because it had so many layers of patches! We’ve also had an awesome 70s denim jacket with a hand-painted Grateful & Dead album cover on the back.

We are different as a denim company because we are not puritans. We just want the jeans to be recycled and worn again. Our goal is to make vintage jeans accessible. Most of our denim cost between $38 and $68.”

Passport Vintage
2217 S 1st St A, South Congress, Austin
(512) 814-6503
Mon-Sat 11-7, Tue closed, Sun 12-5