How to spot fake Levi's


There has been an outbreak of knock-off items over the last several years. One of the most popular items of clothing has been Levi's.
Not only are knock-offs manufactured, they also target the vintage market because that is where the money is hence a greater return.
Most fake Levi's are 'Vintage' 501s with all or some of the details that make real vintage levi jeans valuable.  These can include:

-The Red Tab with capital 'E" which date real levi's to pre-1971
-V-Stitch near the top button.  Another vintage characteristic
-Buckle on the rear (Buckleback)
-Bar tacked Rear Pockets

Most come from Thailand where they are made with cheap labor and materials.  The denim used for the most part is of average quality, if not better than average.  But the hardware used:  Buttons, rivets, etc. are normally of inferior quality.  In order to get the 'lived in' look and fade,   Thai manufacturers apparently sell these jeans to Thai laborers at a very low price (less than $5 has been rumored) and are told to wear the jeans for a certain length of time - 6 months to a year for example, and NOT WASH THEM!  the manufacturers then buy back the jeans, repair and clean them up, and sell them to tourists, exporters or on ebay for much higher prices than they are worth.

A quick search on ebay  of 'levi big e' will almost always reveal anywhere from 1-2 fake pieces to almost 100 in some cases.  Ebay seem to be doing very little in trying to remove these items from their site.  Heres how to spot them:

Number on back of top button:
Almost always stamped '501' off-center or not stamped at all.  While some non-vintage authentic 501s may have this stamped on them, vintage big 'E' will always have a single digit or letter stamped (6, 5, 2, W) or blank, but if it is blank, there are usually punch marks on it.

Elongated 'V-Stitch' on fly:
Another common characteristic of fakes
backtopbutton rear jpn lvc
                                       Fake                                                                              Real (pair of Japan LVC repros)
Note how this pair of fakes has '501' poorly imprinted on the
rear of the button. Also the long V-stitch as well.  The picture of the real one to the right shows the stitch ending at the button  

Rear Patch:
The rear patch on the right hip can also give clues to whether or not the garment is authentic.
 - Material:  If it is a hard leather like material, the jeans are suspect.  Unless the jeans are from the 1930s and the patch has a 'jerky' look to it, very few other Levi's have or had a real leather like patch.  Although this is not a surefire way of telling because some in the LVC (Levi           vintage clothing line) and ones produced in places other than the United States (Japan, Canada for example) did actually come with a hard    leather patch.

- Labeling: Another clue is the printing  on the patch.  If the patch material seems authentic, most times the printing is not.  It is either off center, spelling mistakes, or barring all of that not being present they are labeled '501-0657' in black ink.  If the jeans are anything other than black 501s from the 1980s - if they have that on the label than they are fake.

501a   657
                                            |                                                                                                                     |
                                        Real                                                                                                              Fake  
                                            |                                                                                                                     |

whitepatch   rrpatchbuk
Note the white patch - Definate sign of fakes                      Very accurate patch although a bit off color, the rear buckle and exposed
                                                                                                   selvedge give away that this is a pair of fakes