There are not many jackets that have kept a place in our hearts as long as the original Levi's denim jacket. Of course other jackets may spring to mind such as the Harrington, the Parka, the Duffell or the leather bomber, but have any of them sold in such volume and been featured in film, television and music culture as much as the Levi's denim?
It's interesting to consider why this jacket first became popular and how, over so many decades, it has managed to keep its legendary aura, remaining a favourite and avoiding the ups and downs of many fashion trends.
Part of the jacket's attractiveness is its durability and usefulness. Made from top quality Levi's denim material – a fabric that has also managed to secure a high opinion amongst fashion experts, despite facing many attempts by young pretenders to undercut it – it is easy to wear, comfortable in a range of temperatures and lends itself as an accessory to various fashion directions. It's worn as a practical work item by many, including of course the original cowboy ranchers who feature in so many of the Levi's advertisements, yet it can also find a place in more dressy situations, offering a shabby chic alternative to more flamboyant and colourful items. Although the material itself has avoided and rebuffed any attempt to add new technology developments, such as “stretchiness” or “waterproofness”, it seems to continue as a work garment despite some short comings. It doesn't provide much in the way of warmth, wind protection or have the ability to withstand more than a quick shower, but it works as a layering garment above a thermal layer or beneath a waterproof outer. And when the rain stops it's easy to revert to denim cool.
The design of the Levi's denim jacket is also something that has been a stable, long-standing feature. Not much changes here, with the same cut, same pocket provision, same waist adjusters, same everything really. Length is standard too, and while it may not ideally suit some body sizes, the wearers don't seem to care – the legend of the jacket is enough to overcome that minor problem, although if it wasn't a Levi's version it probably wouldn't. “Wait!” I hear you say, “I've seen longer length denim coats, with furry collars and badge appliqué”. That may be so, but either they were custom one-offs, on the shelves for a short-lived appearance then gone forever, or they were third party copies by competitors attempting to extend the style into new and potentially profitable areas. But such is the power of the brand, and Levi's is one of the strongest and well-protected brands out there, customers were never really happy in anything other than the original.
Levi's have also been very clever and reliable in terms of pricing. These jackets were never available at giveaway prices, rarely discounted in sales or promotions, yet were also never regarded as expensive. Yes, they may have cost more than a range of alternatives, but customers were always prepared to pay the premium for the brand and quality advantage.
That quality has also brought an additional benefit. The survival rate of these jackets is incredible. Where other denim brands tends to lose their shapr and colour in unattractive ways, a used Levi's denim jacket seems to improve with age and that's why you can find a selection of them in many secondhand and vintage clothing stores. They've also proved to be a wise investment too, as they also hold their value over time. What you pay for a vintage version today, may be largely recoverable in a few years time if you decide to pass your treasured Levi's denim onto another careful owner.
Rosie thinks that nothing beats a Levi's denim jacket
when it comes to illustrating the allure of vintage fashion. And the ideal location to track one down is in vintage clothing
outlets online or on the high street. Rosie's knowledge of the fashion industry is vast and she a special interest in retro clothing.