Blue Jean Inflation

Posted On: Tuesday - May 9th 2023 6:22PM MST
In Topics: 
  Music  Inflation  Taxes

(Perfectly inflated jeans here. Yeah, we need to bring in some readers ...)

Peak Stupidity has got 2 solid accurate price points for Levy's 505 blue jeans. This is really close to an apples-to-apples comparison with the exception of the question of quality. I know the quality hasn't improved, and from holes in the knees of my blues*, I would say they are of lower quality.

Changes in quality of products and services were discussed in the older inflation posts, such as the one paragraph in the post Tire Inflation by Deflation. Were these changes known well, as far as good useful life numbers, then they could be numerically taken into account, getting us accurate results on average inflation rates. I could have been logging "days worn", but unfortunately I don't have that regarding my blue jeans because I'm not that much of an obsessive economic geek .

Anyway, same size, same style (505) and even same color. The reason I know the price in '05 is due to a nice memory, and the expense is right with me in my records. I'd made a trip to a nearby State, one without sales tax, to buy 6 pairs of jeans. Wait, OK, there was a girl involved who I wanted to ride there with - the trip being paid for, as it was part of the work. (Buying blue jeans not subject to sales tax was the excuse.) Nothing came of it besides a nice hike... oh, and yeah, 6 pairs of jeans, long since ripped and retired, but logged at $162 even. That's $27/pair,on sale, as I recall, and remember, there's no tax to take into account.

My wife helped me shop for more recently. We looked around a while. We cannot find Levi's 505 REGULAR fit, non-stretch ones for less than $70**. Oops, well, commenter Alarmist pointed out that they are 30% off (that same standard price we kept seeing) on Amazon, so if you see different numbers from an hour ago...

I rounded down to the even year - '05 to '23 is 18 years. MoneyChimp says, with compounding, that's just under a 3.5% average inflation rate. Whaddya' know? This is a little lower than the 4-5% I seem to get on long-term calculations.

Due to the first lyric line written by Bernie Taupin, you may already have this song in your head. From 52 years back and the album Madman Across the Water, this is Elton John's Tiny Dancer:

This song was written well before the gayness of the artist was announced. ~ 6-7 years afterward, he "came out", but that wasn't pushed on the audience as it was in the recent movie Rocket Man. TMI, dudes!

* Mr. Ganderson, you've got 5 seconds: Name that Dead song.

** I wrote "non-stretch ones" for a reason. I found them for $50 on-line. That's quite the price difference (when you buy in quantity), but I simply don't want anything different. More relative to the inflation picture is that I looked up info. on these, and they are not as durable as the normal stuff due to the elastic material wearing out faster than the denim. That's per this info.

Friday - May 12th 2023 7:23AM MST

RE: Adam Smith, Moderator, and possumman

-- Cheap pants --

In 2022, I acquired what long seemed to me the best-fitting, easy-to-move-in, useful pair of blue-jeans at a low price, under $15 after tax. I marveled at how good it was considering the price. I later got the idea to look at where it was made: "Made in China"! What?

After a relatively large number of uses but a time period measurable in months and not years, the seam at the zipper fell apart on these blue-jeans. Although the zipper was still attached, there was now a big hole right where the zipper is supposed to protect, though it could be concealed with proper folding, these pants were failing in what must be its most important duty. It was no longer wearable.

In the end, a lesson we learn and re-learn over the years is that buying better-quality items at 2x the price that lasts more than 2x as long -is- worth the price (plus, who knows what chemicals or the like are lurking in the Made-in-China pants?). The temptation of low-price at a moment always seems to defeat this knowledge.

On the social scale, these distorted "market" decisions end up with people wanting to favor cheap foreign-made products thinking they're getting a great deal, but the products actually may wear out and need to be replaced at such a rate that a sturdy, domestic, higher-priced one might have been the better "deal" all along.
Adam Smith
Thursday - May 11th 2023 11:38AM MST
PS: Good afternoon, everyone,

Mr. Hail asked, “Are pants part of the 80% of Wal-Mart merchandise that is Made In China?”

I have several pair of Wrangler Jeans from Walmart. ($20 dollar bucks each! Mrs. Smith has remarked how well made they are. She wishes she could find women's jeans of this quality at any price.)

I looked at the labels. Nicaragua for the pants, Mexico for the shorts.

Thursday - May 11th 2023 8:14AM MST
PS: Mr. Hail, I wonder how much of that 20% is American made. Maybe 5% of the total, but you can't count the food section.

"Anyone else remember radio spots by the Jefferson Airplane plugging white Levis?" No, but Grace Slick may have done some good marketing by wearing them. Earlier on. Linda Ronstadt too.
Thursday - May 11th 2023 4:52AM MST
PS Anyone else remember radio spots by the Jefferson Airplane plugging white Levis?
Wednesday - May 10th 2023 7:59PM MST


Are pants part of the 80% of Wal-Mart merchandise that is Made In China?
Wednesday - May 10th 2023 7:34PM MST
PS: Mr. Blanc, $25 a pair in the late '90s sounds about right.

Mr. Kief, thanks for the additional storytelling and for putting the price of blue jeans in perspective.

Mr. Trabant, Philadelphia Freedom is right up there on my list too. However, I may put "Funeral for a Friend/Love Lies Bleeding" at the very top. That one (2nd part) rocks!

That was pretty funny, Mr. Corrupt. Yeah, that's what I've been buying these phones based on - where the heck can they fit?
Al Corrupt
Wednesday - May 10th 2023 6:42PM MST

Hate the stretch crap skinny jeans that make these days. They must be using the same pockets they use in women’s jeans, because my wallet and phone don’t fit anymore. Either my bxxxx are larger, or the crotch is much higher than they used to be (maybe the kids today don’t need ball space). It doesn’t really matter though, as I’ve stopped buying their product based on their support for anti-second amendment causes. F Levi’s.
Zil Trabant
Wednesday - May 10th 2023 5:31PM MST
PS Gas has went up overnight in time for summer driving.
Putin and Trump and those mean ol' orbital inflation lasers!
True Believer box wine aunties in the family blame it on cycles but in the silver lining department, vibrancy is coming out their way so they can enjoy the consequences of voting CPUSA.
The particle board section 8 apartments and warehouses now clog the view as it goes exurbia in almost rural suburbia.
The state will have to legalize muh weed in order to upgrade the roads because only the best for the replacements.
Philadelphia Freedom is my favorite Elton along with Rocket Man, rapper Biz Markie does a hilarious cover of RM.
The same box wine auntie has a barn that probably has some badazz muscle cars as uncle was a career drag racer and it is located a block from the drag racing park.
Keeping an eye out for a jeans jacket in the second hand clothing store at the Palookaville EBT world shopping bazaar and of course a metal band back patch for it.
Wednesday - May 10th 2023 2:33PM MST
PS: Correction for Possumman, you did say they wear fine - did you mean "wear out" fine or "fit fine" by that? Either way, it's not like this is a lot of my budget. I hope 8 pairs will last me about 5 years. They are worn about 1/2 of the time I'm awake. (No, the rest is not in my underwear on this computer, haha!)
Wednesday - May 10th 2023 2:31PM MST
PS: Possumman, I really gotta get this brand. I really need them to fit right and last a while. You may have good luck with the Wal-Mart stuff, I don't know.
Wednesday - May 10th 2023 1:20PM MST
PS Just buy jeans at Walmart--about $15 a pair--they fit fine- they wear fine and fade about the same--spending $70 is rally just peak stupidity
Dieter Kief
Wednesday - May 10th 2023 11:16AM MST
Mod. - the paper's name was STOP! - and meant just that - - we were a bit scared of progress, because it ate up our beloved inner cities and turned them upside down etc. pp. - - -the increasing traffic & smells & noise even in the remotest villages...the Rhine was turned into a sewer, so that hardly anybody would want to swim in it - - - it was the most pleasant thing you could think of in my early childhood at a hot summer's day - - but then - in the Seventies - - my oh my! - Its ok again, btw. and swimming in it great fun again too!

Two Marks = 1 Euro - so: 120 Euros, what many are paying now for 501's - some even more - - are 240 Marks, which means them Levi's are now eight times mor expensive than in 1970 ff.

Seen from another angle: If I worked for my uncle, harvesting tobacco, he sometimes (!) payed me 2 Marks per hour - - so a pair of Levi's was 15 hours of low qualification work at that time.

Today that is something like 10 Euros - - but well off middleclass kids are still not willing to work much for that money. But if they do - they work about five hours for a decent pair of Jeans - and ca. - - - 15 hours for a pair of Levi's - - - some things just seem to stay the same - - -

Charlie lived a risky life - - - I did too at times, esp. with motorbikes (and cars). I was more lucky than he was - - - -. His deadly accident was so much bad luck at the same time that we couldn't believe it. But - - one can never be too sure - - - - .
Wednesday - May 10th 2023 8:52AM MST
PS I don’t wear them any more, so I’m not up with the prices. When I was a teenager (early 1960s), they were $10 a pair or less. The last time that I recall buying any (late 1990s), they were about $25 a pair. I still have a couple of new pairs in the closet. I, um, grew out of them for a while. I’ve taken some weight off, and can now wear them. But I now wear cargoes. I suppose I ought to wear the Lees before I die.
Wednesday - May 10th 2023 6:39AM MST
PS: "Wednesday - May 10th 2023 6:34AM MST" Hmmm, Google Analytics says that you finished reading the post at 06:29:01, Mr. Ganderson. You had only a second to spare!
... but you pulled through.

Nah, I kid, of course. These things stay in our head forever. "No, I never could read no road map...and I don't know what the weather might do..."
Wednesday - May 10th 2023 6:34AM MST
PS. Dunno- odds against me been increasing…
Wednesday - May 10th 2023 5:51AM MST
PS: "maybe Levi's have gone down market?" I don't know. I just want the same stuff as I could get 30 years ago (18 at least, per this post), but you can't. Quality goes steadily down...

There's only one thing I'd be glad about, living in a place like Mao's China. That'd be that I don't have to go shopping, and I can get the same exact clothing I got 10 years ago, so long as Blue Jean Manufactury #3 in Hunan has not experienced any Great Leap Forward or what not...

SafeNow, I would be envious, had it not been for halter tops and short shorts - yes there were remarks from teachers. I distinctly remember one commenting "half her ass is showing...". I didn't see the problem. Perspective! I never liked the slacks though. I think that's just about good pockets. Stuff falls out of slack pockets too easily.
Wednesday - May 10th 2023 5:45AM MST
PS: Dieter, did your pupil-published newspaper SPOT stand for anything? (I mean, as in the letters meaning something.) That's too bad about your friend Charlie Brown - high school kids who killed themselves driving in this country - where I lived, anyway - usually were drunk, I think more than on drugs. Then, there were the muscle cars that really didn't handle that well, and you'd get fatal single-car wrecks that involved drinking, speed, and some big Oak tree in the wrong place.

Now, 1970 Deutschmarks to 2023 Euros - I don't know what to do with that! Euros to dollars was nearly even last summer, but I see now that a Euro is 1.1 bucks at this point. $110 for a pair of those jeans is pretty pricey, yes. They are paying for the service as you mentioned. I'll just pay for shipping from amazon I guess. I may never have to shop for blue jeans again, ever.
Wednesday - May 10th 2023 4:12AM MST
I am so old that jeans were not permitted in my very normal suburban high school. Boys wore “slacks.” I have worn slacks ever since. Cuffed, in fact. Today’s slacks are a miracle. The fabric is comfortable, breathable, and washable. For about $10 extra, the maker adds a permanent crease. This brings the price to about $60. SafeNow, you say, before you go, please tell us - - if the high-school girls could not wear jeans, what were they wearing?
Pleated skirts, and knee socks. You are perhaps envious.
Wednesday - May 10th 2023 3:40AM MST
Blue jeans have been fashion items for longer than I've been alive (and I'm starting to get senior's discounts in some stores...)
That being the case, price and price changes have more to do with market positioning than anything else. See Dieter's comment. I'm a bit surprised at the result of your inflation calculation - maybe Levi's have gone down market?
Dieter Kief
Tuesday - May 9th 2023 11:31PM MST
Levi's are here well over 100 Euros. Worn by boomers. Sold in little posh shops with perfect severice. They were 30 Marks in 1970 at Teichmann's Levi's shop in Hockenheim. One of the first shops I shot and designed a well-made 1 page advertisment for in our pupil's paper STOP (that was 80 marks)!***, which we mid-teen peers founded, wrote, designed and ran. ****Charlie Brown***, a super cute looking young man with a big fat smile and blonde hair and pefect manners, who always had some drugs and girlfriends came up with the title we all agreed upon in what: Half and hour! Charly died drugged up in a slow-motion car-crash at a very gentle summer morning ca. 4:30 a few years later.
***his real last name only in German
Tuesday - May 9th 2023 7:10PM MST
PS: Well, that's embarrassing but pretty good too! This is a 30% off sale, but I guess we weren't very thorough. I'm getting a bunch of pairs. Thanks.

I'll change the numbers with a note.
The Alarmist
Tuesday - May 9th 2023 6:29PM MST

Have you tried Amazon? I see them for circa $50.
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