Finding Blue Diamonds: Vintage Jeans

Finding vintage hidden treasure


Sometimes in our bundles and sacks that we pick up from our collection bins there are what we call “vintage gold”, or “diamonds” lying within—Harley Davidson leather jackets, bowling shirts, couture dresses and suits, designer handbags—and the biggest “blue diamond” of all…rare vintage blue jeans.

Many textile recyclers sort their bundles and pull out the high price items to sell to top bidders. Only 1-2% of items fall in this category, but they can generate about 15% of the revenue.

“Diamonds” are often sold to  designer boutiques and upscale vintage shops.

There is also a high demand in Japan for vintage blue jeans, a craze started after WWII when locals admired American soldiers in their free-time denim wear.

However, at Charter Recycling, we sell credential clothing. Our bags are unopened and sold “as is,” which means the bags are unsorted and ungraded, with all the “diamonds” ready to be discovered by the buyer. Discover more about credential clothing.

On the auction block vintage blue jeans can bring a pretty penny.

Michael Allen Harris, a commercial painter from California, is a sort of a denim detective. Recently profiled on CBS News, Harris searches old mines on weekends searching for really old jeans, which are often appraised for up to $100,000.

Harris found one of the oldest denim jackets known to exist, which is now in the Levi Strauss historical collection. Lynn Downey, the historian emeritus at Levi Strauss, explains that the current line is inspired by this history and the intricate wear patterns of these denim ancestors:

“Our designers are the biggest users of the historical collections here. There’s such understanding, there’s such respect and such love for this.”

At work or at play, we love our denim duds…and some of us will even pay thousands of dollars for a vintage blue diamond.

Why are we so enamored with jeans?

Recycle Jeans










Cowboys, bikers, Brando, Elvis, Marilyn…blues jeans are iconic and uniquely American, and they also defy class and category.

As one of the greatest designers, Yves Saint Laurent once said,

“I wish I had invented blue jeans: the most spectacular, the most practical, the most relaxed and nonchalant. They have expression, modesty, sex appeal, simplicity – all I hope for in my clothes.”

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