For many of us, it is difficult to think of a world without the denim jacket; But this iconic piece of sartorial history has come on quite a journey since the first ‘Blouse Jacket’ made from denim was introduced to American ‘blue collar workers’ around the turn of the 20th Century. In fact, it would take almost three quarters of a century to arrive at the much loved ‘Type-III’ trucker which has long been at the forefront of denim culture. Here, we are going to discuss that epic journey, and what stages this design went through over that period of cultural and economical change.
The piece that has come to be known as the Type-I was spawned from the original ‘blouse’ jackets, and had an initial life span of around 40 years. First introduced in the early 1900’s, and given the lot number 506XX by Levi’s, the Type-I has several instantly recognisable features. In order to compliment the high-rise of the trousers of the day, the 506XX was cut short in the body, and offers a boxy shape which has become synonymous with this style. This cut, along with sewn in front knife pleats, allowed for superior comfort and ease of movement when working the fields or out on horseback. A single pocket adorns the left chest of this design for convenience and functionality, with the most recognisable options featuring a buttoned flap, though earlier models would stick to just the iconic punch through copper rivet tops. A leather brand patch can be found on the neck of these Type-I designs also, but perhaps the most iconic feature is the cinch-back. These early adjustable cinches were designed to alter the shape of the body, and were initially made from silver, though around the time of the Second World War production switched to bronze to save on costs. Some purists out there might be shocked to know that some opted to cut this ‘buckle-back’ off completely! Sacrilege!
The early 1950’s saw the birth of 506XX’s younger, more modern brother; efficiently called the 507XX. Changes in style and manufacturing at the time meant that jeans were becoming more fitted on the waist, and no longer needed suspenders to hold them up, therefore we find that the Type-II is cut a little longer than its predecessor, in order to meet the comfortable mid-to-high rise. All of the boxiness that we loved from the Type-I is still there on the Type-II however, with the iconic sewn in knife pleats adorning the front with contrast yellow stitching, complemented by further pleats on the back. Perhaps the most recognisable change would be the addition of a second button flap chest pocket, giving this piece its lust worthy symmetry, and adding to its functionality. The cinch-back is gone! Instead giving way to more convenient buttoned waistband adjusters, a feature which would endure to the present day. In order to save on materials, the punched through copper rivets have been replaced by durable bar tacks at the stress points of the pockets. This iconic piece is favoured by rockers and rebels, mechanics and farmers, and the rich and the famous!
In the Type-III we find the jacket which has perhaps been most commonly reproduced by luxury brands, heritage denim, and high street conglomerates alike. It is a pillar of the denim world, and has permeated popular subcultures as varied as Punk and Pop. First introduced in 1962 by Levi Strauss, the Type-III has several marked differences from earlier iterations. It is the first to feature a duo of ‘pointed’ button flap pockets, with the pockets themselves this time being sewn into the interior of the jacket, the opening welted below the flap. The slimmer cut of the Type-III comes courtesy of sewn in ‘V’ shaped seams on the front, and a pair of flat felled seams on the back. Altogether a more modern shape, the boxiness which the Types-I, and II offered are a distant memory, with the comfort that their spaciousness provided being taken over by a narrower silhouette. A card brand patch can be found on the neck of the traditional Type-III, a cost saving decision which would save the inventors millions of dollars over the decades.
Why not browse our full range of Type-I, II, and III jackets on our website today, for a view of how each brand puts their own individual touch on these timeless pieces.