Vintage Dead stock Levi's Denim Family Women's Jacket
Maker - Levi's
Era - Mid 50s
Material - 3x1 cotton denim
Acquired - by Douglas Luhanko 2007
This jacket was made by Levi's back in the mid 1950s and it's part of the so-called "Denim family" collection. As mentioned earlier in our blog posts regarding a pair of Lady Levi's 701 Women's jeans from the 50's, this jacket tells the story of the American society after the second world war. In a time where the economy was blooming and people started to get more spare time, the leisure wear was becoming more popular and denim garments become a symbol for the American people as being strong, healthy and wholesome.
Levi's started a marketing campaign towards the eastern parts of the country in the 50's and as a part of the campaign, the Denim Family was created. This was a line of clothes created for the entire family to be able to dress in denim from top to toe!
"Dude ranches" was the name of the new kind of amusement park that started to become popular for families dreaming of the sunset in the west and the outdoor life that was synonymous with cowboys. I have heard that the Denim Family line was intended to be used by the families who visited the Dude Ranches, dressing themselves up as cowboys and cowgirls. During this time Levi's produced their 501 jeans and the short horn shirts along with 507xx jackets and these garments were still made as durable workwear, while the Denim Family line was more about the fashion of the era.
The jacket is cut to end at the waist, and designed to be worn with a pair of high waisted jeans. Back in 2007 when I got this jacket it was actually sold together with a matching pair of trousers and I will cover them as well eventually on the blog, but I thought it was better to separate them in the blog post so each garment can be studied separately.
The collar is quite wide and pointy, in fashion for the era. The fabric is a rather thin 3x1 denim, similar to the fabric used by the US navy in the 40's.
Here is the neck label with the Levi's Denim Family logo and the label also let's us know that the fabric is Sanforized. The method known as Sanforization was patented in the 30's and it is a method of shrinking and fixating the woven cloth in both length and width before the cutting and stitching. This ensured to reduce the shrinkage which would otherwise occur after washing. A sanforized garment was supposed to shrink no more than 1% compared to an unsanforized fabric that would shrink up to 10%, so with this the denim garment could also be made to have a slimmer silhouette without risking it to become to small after shrinkage. This is something that Lee Riders became known for in the 40's, and their new slim cut jeans and jackets and made from sanforized left-hand twill could be worn very close-fitting.
The label of this jacket is printed, and not embroidered. This was made just in the time where Levi's moved from the older embroidered labels to the more modern printed ones. It was most likely a financial decision behind the shift.
Tha jacket also features snap buttons and the legend says that the snap button was first used on shirts worn by bull stock riders, where a regular button and buttonhole could become a deadly trap if the rider fell off and got stuck with the shirt in the horns of the raging bull. The idea of the snap button is that is would unfasten quickly, allowing for easy escape from both shirt and bull! This also explains the reason for these kind of buttons to be used on this jacket.
The pointed cuff with snap button.
Close up of the snap button.
The snaps are made by the Dot Snappers brand.
The back of the jacket is cut slightly shorter than the front and it is tucked into the waistband in four folds which gives the garment some shape.
Even if this jacket was made in the 50's I still think it looks great in a contemporary context and I do hope that we will see higher waist and wider legs on both women and men in the future!
Last week we wrote the story of a denim jacket from the mid 20th century produced by one of the brands that battled Levi's back in the late 19th century. You can read that story here!