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Partnered Story October, 9 2013

A Quick Look at The History of The Levi’s Trucker Jacket

By LEVI’S STATION TO STATION

Levi’s perfected the five pocket blue jean way back when, setting the bar for every pair and every brand that followed. Not satisfied with mastering the most popular item of clothing, well, ever, San Francisco’s finest would go on to create that most iconic of denim jackets. The Trucker…

Levi’s early releases in this field were beautiful affairs, the Type I, and Type II, lot numbers 506XX and 506XX, pleated fronts, a single pocket on the first, two on the second, leather patches and cinched backs creating a blouson fit. A perfect piece of contemporary clothing that found its way into the world in 1905. Various versions came and went, rivets disappeared, pockets doubled in number, donut buttons became logo buttons, the silver cinch would turn bronze…tiny adjustments here and there. It took a few centuries to get to what we now recognize as the standard bearer. The Trucker. The early ‘60s saw this classic take shape, the 557XX, a substantial piece of clothing in heavy weight, pre-shrunk, ready to wear denim.

Vertical seams were, and still remain, the signature feature of the Levi’s Trucker, as well as the numerous copies that follow. Drawing down from the pocket to the waistband, they offer a central focus and crucially accentuate its slim cut. Out with the boxy silhouettes popular in the ‘40s and ‘50s, this new form hit just below the waist and kept a snug fit to the body. In a move towards something almost tailored the Trucker was designed to create shape whether you chose to size down for a skinnier profile or size up for comfort – slouchy never really an option. Pointed pockets were a part of this more streamlined look – the 557XX one of the first to use this kind of flap, a nod to western wear and an addition that stood the test of time.

However, while this new release was right at home on the ranch, it found equal popularity among a very different audience. Hippie kids, rockers, activists, bikers…the Trucker would find fans in nearly every corner of ‘60s and ‘70s counter-culture. A perfect canvas, it took a beating in the name of customization; flowers embroidered, sleeves removed, names emblazoned, slogans painted, chopped and resewn. The jacket was a symbol for just about anything you wanted it to be.

Over the decades the early Trucker 557XX would evolve into the 70505, 71205, and 70518. In 1971 the ‘LEVI’S’ red tab became ‘Levi’s.’ A change with very little meaning according to brand historian Lynn Downey, this minor tweak would later result in the cult of Big E, collectors placing huge importance and even bigger price tags on a small tell that set one era apart from another. The ‘80s saw its biggest change, the addition of hand pockets – still though, this subtle modification barely affected the look or cut. In more recent times the likes of Pendleton, Opening Ceremony, Filson and Stussy have all offered their interpretations on the standard – new fabrics, linings and colours up for grabs. Significantly, whether in tin cloth or soft black wool, the Trucker is always the Trucker – its core design remaining the same since day one. Just like the 5 pocket jean, it does the job and does it well. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Shop the Levi’s Icons at us.levi.com.

Highsnobiety