October 23, 2020
Levi Strauss & Co. invented the first riveted denim jackets in the 1870s. For nearly a century, the design was modified before the rivets were finally removed and the 1960s version was introduced — a style copied by fashion houses all over the world.
Twenty years later, vintage Levi’s® fans in Japan began classifying these changing jacket models as the market for them surged. A new book from Japan, Levi’s® Vintage Denim Jackets Type I, II, III, details this evolution and their classification — Type I, Type II and Type III are examples of modern classifications used to describe vintage Levi’s® jackets. The new book documents jacket adjustments over the years on everything from the shape of the collar to the stitching of the Levi’s® patch.
Levi’s® Vintage Denim Jackets Type I, II, III was edited by Yutaka Fujihara and Naoki Kawamata, coauthors of The 501 XX: A Collection of Vintage Jeans (2015). “It’s been five years since the last 501 XX book, and I’m really happy as a Levi’s® fan and a denim fan that I was able to make a jacket book this time,” said Yutaka. “I produced this book [for] denim fans worldwide, so please enjoy!!”
I met up with Yutaka and Naoki last year in Tokyo. As passionate denim collectors, they have spent decades gathering, collecting and selling vintage Levi’s® — and they can spot the tiniest design details.
“Due to the influence of the previous XX book, I wrote this book with high expectations from the denim fan[s] around the world,” said Naoki. “I don’t think there has ever been a book like this, which focuses on jacket details and history. With the support from the archive, I think I was able to dig deeper about details and year of manufacture. It would be great if this book can convey the wonderful charm of Levi’s®.”
Thirty-four Japanese collectors lent their vintage Levi’s® jackets for the photographs captured beautifully in the book that appear on 200 full-color pages. “We borrowed actual vintage jacket[s] from many people and there were some jackets I saw for the first time,” said Yutaka. “I learned a lot from the pieces and [was] deeply impressed by the depth of Levi’s again!” Other surprises include rarely seen LS&Co. catalog images from our Archives.
Along with providing catalog imagery, Archives staff joined me in reviewing our extensive collection of vintage Levi’s® jackets to confirm the design variations covered in the book. This meant poring over the oldest jacket in our Archives, the Triple Pleat Blouse (dating to the 1870s), and other early Levi’s® jackets. These included the XX Blouse, Lot 506 (Type I, introduced in the 1890s), Lot 507 (Type II, introduced in 1953) and Lot 557 (Type III, introduced in 1961).
“It was fascinating to see the group of jackets that had been collected for this project and the meticulous research that had gone into the book,” said Levi’s® Vintage Clothing Designer Paul O’Neill, who also joined the team for editing support. “It was a pleasure to sift through all the images and information and see the history of our denim jacket put together in one place.”
For vintage Levi’s® fans, the new jacket book is already creating a buzz. “We will see amazing details of [the] jacket,” wrote one enthusiast. “It may be [the] first time in the world to show ‘Super Vintage.’”