Vintage History

While Levi Strauss & Co. was established in the mid 1800’s, (see history of Levi 501’s) it was not until 1905 that the first Levi Blouse (Jacket) was recorded. Made in 9 oz. double heavy quality XX denim, it was known as the 506 (the term Number One was used after 1917). The word Blouse was used by Levi Strauss & Co. until around 1938, when the word “jacket” was used in it’s western wear catalog.

The 506XX Blouse had a single breast pocket on the left side of the front of the jacket and featured rivets at the corners of the pocket. These disappeared in later models. As with the early Levi Jeans, a martingale or cincher was used on the lower back. Rivets were also used to reinforce the cuff vents. There were 6 versions in this particular Levi Jacket model dated 1905, 1928, 1936, 1941, 1944 and 1947. Details varied as different versions emerged such as the departure of donut style buttons in early models to logo style buttons in later models. In addition the early versions had no front pocket flap and with later models this feature was added. On the 1936 version, the Red Tab started to appear. Moreover like the 501 during World War II, special and unnecessary detailing was dispensed with in these versions.

In the late 1940’s, Levi created a light weight western wear line for both men and ladies. The womens jackets were made with stone shield snap fasteners. In addition, in the 1950’s Levi introduced the “Sawtooth” western shirt. The name comes from the jagged appearance of the stitching on the yokes and pockets.

In 1953, Levi Strauss started to produce the 507XX Jacket using 9 oz. denim. While styled similarly to the 506XX model, it featured a second breast pocket and bar tacks instead of rivets on the breast pockets. Called the Second Edition Jacket or Number Two, it was actually the third model since the 1936 506XX was never given a lot number. In addition, the back martingale was replaced by side waist straps. Leather labels were used for the jackets, but were replaced in the 50’s by press card labels.

In 1962 Levi Strauss introduced the 557XX, also known as the Truckers Jacket. It was the first jacket to feature the now famous pointed pocket flaps. Thread used in these jackets was yellow in color compared to the orange thread used in model numbers featured in the late 60’s.

With the introduction of the Trucker Jacket 557XX by Levi in the early 60’s, the familiar design of this jacket featured prominently in the design of Levi Jackets thereafter. In the late 60’s, the style of this jacket was lengthened and side pockets were added. Evolving from the 557 series to the 70505, 71205 and 70518 this design was carried forward featuring both Big “E” and small “e” on the red tab. However the popular “indigo finish look” remained throughout the 60’s.

Of all the denim manufacturers of the period, Levi Strauss made the least amount of colored vintage during this generation. The White colored Levi’s were first introduced in 1962. Pique or “Corduroy” finishing materials were introduced as the 941 series model. The Satin White finish jackets were featured as the 940 series model and the twill finish were introduced as the 840 series model. All of these series carried the same styling as the 557 being produced at that time.