The Vintage Levi's Denim Jacket Guide
Ever wanted to know a bit more about your Levi's jacket? Well, let us fill you in..
- XX on the tab will mean the denim is stronger.
- Big “E” is more valuable with it being the older style.
- Only the “L” was capitalised after the mid 60s style.
- Last 4 digits of product code are indicating the colour/model number.
The Levi's Denim Jacket Timeline
Pre 1940s: First Edition/"Type 1"
The first Levi's denim jacket was made, known as the 506/506XX
- Featuring a single patch style pocket with rivets towards the corners of the pocket
- Levi's referred to their garment as a 'blouse' until 1938 where Levi's switched to the more, now mainstream term “jacket”
- No identifiable Levi's tab on the jacket, nor a front pocket flap
- Silver cinch buckles were used at the back
This modern interpretation has a cinched buckled back and single pocket similar to the original Levi's design (though the original style pocket did not have a buttoned flap).
The Red Levi's tag appeared for the first time. The text was in capital letters, the “E” being the only noticeably capitalised letter. “LEVIS” vs. Levis”. These are “first edition”, the rarest of Levi's jackets.
1940's - late 1960's: Second Edition/"Type 2"
- “Second edition” Levi's jackets from this time period are identified by 2 jean style pockets on either side of the chest (similar to the rear pockets on a pair of jeans, made from separate denim sewn onto the chest)
- The more modern jackets have a 'slit' with a fabric lining sewn to the inside of the jacket.
- Will have big “E” Levi's pocket tab
- Levi's started using bronze buckles on the back of their jackets from 1940s onwards instead of silver buckles as they were cheaper to manufacture.
Levi's introduced their Western wear line for both genders. Below are examples of Levi's denim shirts in the western style.
Western shirts are often characterised by their pearl fastening snaps.
- Levi's began to produce the 507xx jacket, similar to the original 506xx but with an additional chest pocket, both now fitted with buttoned flaps.
- Levi's no longer used rivets on the pockets, instead replacing them with bar tacks (a super strong, reinforcing stitch)
- They also removed the cinched back detail and used adjusters on either side of the waist instead
1962: Third Edition/”Type 3”
Levi's introduced the 557XX jacket known as the Truckers Jacket which was identified by yellow thread stitching, rather than orange which was later used towards the end of the 60's. The Trucker jacket featured pointed flaps at the pockets and two side pockets.
This pointed pocket style influenced the style of Levi's jackets in future decades, evolving into designs including the modern 70507 and as a result is the style we are most familiar with today.
Levi's started playing with colours and materials around this time, introducing corduroy (941 series) and white jackets.
- Levi's changed their red tags from “LEVI'” to “Levi's” in 1971, leading to a distinction from then onwards. This new style became known as the small "e" pocket tab
- Before 1971, jacket designs have single row stitching next to bottom button hole whereas newer designs have double row stitching
Levi's Orange Tab
The difference between Red and Orange Levis tabs is a difference in stitching and varied elements of design.
- Orange tab jeans and jackets use bar tacks in place of copper rivets
- The stitching on the chest pockets is simplified
- Orange tab jackets, jeans and shirts were designed to have a slimmer fit, making them more appealing to a younger audience
- Both red and orange tab jackets are still manufactured today
Orange tab was introduced towards the end of the 60s. Notice the small "e" in the Levi's tag, indicating the jacket below was manufactured post 1971.
Orange tab was priced lower than the classic red tab Levi's jackets which made the Levi's brand more accessible and affordable. By making these changes, more people were able to engage with the brand and join the iconic Levi's style.
1971 to Mid 80's
- This is the most common style and the easiest to find in the current vintage market
- All have the small “e” pocket tab
- Two chest pockets
- The only difference between this style and older styles are small, subtle changes like the small "e" tab and a different amount of stitching next to the bottom button hole
Mid 80's to present
- From the 80s onwards many more colours and washes have become available
- Jackets from this period onwards have 4 pockets: two chest pockets & 2 side slash hand pockets
- This style is not as popular to collectors as the older styles with only 2 pockets.
Levi's various lines of jackets correlated to diffferent coloured tabs. These colours included not only the orange and red tabs but also the black tab, white tab and silver tab lines.
Levi's Jacket Number Breakdown
Almost all Levi jackets have 2 sets of numbers for the product code, e.g “70503 - 0234“. According to Levi's, the second lot of numbers indicates the colour & model of the jacket.