Second Sunrise Archive: Vintage Levi's 557XX Denim Jacket

Vintage Levi's 557XX Denim Jacket

Maker - Levi's
Era - 1962-66
Fabric - Cotton, 3x1 denim

Acquired - by Douglas Luhanko around 2009

Lets work our way backwards in time in covering the different styles of denim jackets made by Levi's! A few weeks ago I wrote a blog post about this jackets successor, the Levi's Type 3 70505 0217 Jacket and you can read the blog post here.

Here is the story of the 557XX jacket, also known as the first "type 3" denim jacket made by Levi's.

Vintage Levi's Big E 557 jacket

The 557 XX denim jacket was first made in 1962, replacing the older 507 XX jacket with a new slimmer cut and modern design made to meet the 1960s fashion. As mentioned in my earlier post I always thought that it was interesting that the Type 3 denim jacket made by Levi's has a lot of similarities with the 101j model made by Lee that was introduced in 1936. It took almost 23 years until Levi's decided to re-design their denim jacket and make a simliar model as the Lee version and it sure became popular!

As you probably can see there hasn't been much changes to this jacket ever since and if you are walking in to a Levi's store today to pick up a denim jacket it will most likely still be the type 3 your'e looking for. This model was made in the first era of the long history of type 3 jackets made up until this day! A timeless classic that really deserves it's reputation of a well designed denim jacket.

Vintage Levis 557 big e jacket

The jacket is quite square shaped compared to later versions of the type 3 jacket and it's designed to be worn in a time when high waisted pants were standard. The biggest changes from the 507 XX jacket was the added side panels on the body, and the front part that consists of three pieces of fabric where the 507 jacket just had one big piece of fabric for the back and the same on the front. The new pattern made it easier to shape the jacket to be more snug fitting and one can say that this is the jacket that really left the old work-wear style jacket behind and became a everyday casual jacket. 

Vintage Levis big e 557 jacket

At the back of the neck we find the paper tag in the size of 7,5 cm x 5,5 cm. This tag was made smaller on the later versions of Big E type three jackets. So if you come across one that does not have the intact tag the stitches will be your best way to determine the age of the jacket. Perhaps you seen it with a Lot 558 or 559 stamp and no, it's not a fake version of the 557, Levi's actually made three different versions of the jacket where the 558 is a longer version and the 559 is a lined version of the type 3 denim jacket. 

Vintage Levis Big E 557 jacket

The big E red tab located on the left chest pocket. I know Im repeating myself but I still think it's good to mention that the capital E on the Red Tab was made in 1936, when the tab was first used, and up until 1971 on both jeans, jackets and other garments. When the text changed from "LEVI'S" to "Levi's" 1971 due to the fact that someone thought it's more polite to write a name with just a capital first letter the capital E was change to a small "e" and that has been the standard up until this day. 

Vintage Levis big E 557 jacket

The double sided red tab was first made as early as 1955 on the 507 XX jacket and on this jacket you can also see the yellow bar tack stitch underneath the pocket-flap. The color of the bartack was changed to be more in tone with the denim fabric on later versions. 

Vintage Levis Big E 557 jacket

The back of the buttons are stamped with an "D"

Vintage Levi's big E 557 jacket

Detail of the cuff and the front of the jacket. An interesting detail on the 557 XX jacket is the shape of the "V" shaped front. As you can see on this jacket it's quite sharply shaped, leaving close to no space between the edges on the lower front. On later versions this was made in a more straight shape and the space between the edges on the front became wider.

Vintage Levis big E 557 jacket

The back has two waist adjusters that looks similar to the ones introduced on the preceding 507 XX jacket.

Vintage Levi's 557 big E jacket

On the side of the back pice you can also see an error from the weaving process, its visible in the form of a white line that runs all along the back. I've always appreciated these details and the fact that you didn't consider the jacket to be faulty for this reson. I think it brings uniqueness to the garments and it's also a reminder that products are made by humans and that a small failure is ok as long as it doesn't compromise the quality of the product.

Today we are not likely to see this kind of details on garment since we are always striving to achieve perfection, and if a error should be made in the weaving process that fabric will not end up in production. But as this jacket is a proof that the error has not been compromising the quality and if you ask me I think it only adds beauty to the jacket.

Vintage Levis big E 557 jacket

Just below the neck we also find a repair. Someone made a hand stitch mending to cover up a small hole.

Vintage Levis 557 big E jacket

The patch from the inside. A small detail, but it's in these details you can trace the long life of a jacket and see the beauty in the fact that someone mended it by hand to make it live longer.

This jacket is part of our archive and we keep it in store as a inspirational piece. Stop by and have a cup of coffee and we will be happy to show it to you!

Lat week we wrote the story of a 40/50s Swedish Military pilot jacket and if you would like to read that blog post you find it right here.



Leave a comment