By Sam Powers
Levi’s Type III jacket is a must-have for any closet. If you do not have the exact Type III, you probably have a riff on the classic denim jacket. Its ubiquity across cultures and sexes makes the Type III a staple of American style — but this classic jacket did not arrive overnight.
The Type I jacket, introduced in 1905, streamlines the first ever denim jacket created by Levi Strauss himself — the Triple Pleat Jacket. What makes the Type I distinct from its predecessor is its sole chest pocket and reduction in box pleats in the center. These box pleats weren’t there to just look cool, they served an important function, as well.
If you needed to up-size your denim jacket, these pleats could be cut open, demonstrating the Type I’s functional design. Other details include a belt cinch in the back, allowing the wearer to tighten or loosen the jacket. Levi’s originally used a silver buckle for the cinch but replaced it with copper during the 1940s to reduce cost.
Introduced in 1953, the Type II jacket modernizes the Type I while still maintaining its workwear roots. The new design keeps the center pleats but adds a second chest pocket and replaces the back cinch with hip tab adjusters.
The Type II also introduces bar tack stitching, a reinforcing high-density stitch. Around the time the Type II was introduced, the youth began to adopt denim as a fashion fabric. Even icons like Elvis Presley were sporting the Type II jacket in concerts and photoshoots.
I anticipate a revival of the Type II. The Type III has reigned as the quintessential denim jacket since its release, but I think it’s prime time to honor its stylish, pleated predecessor.
This is the big one. Debuting in 1962, the Type III does away with the dated center box pleats. Instead, the jacket opts for now iconic v-shaped seams on front lapels. The modern design adds symmetry to the jacket, while also accentuating a slim, triangular figure.
Since its debut, the Type III has largely remained the same with the exception of waist pockets, added in the mid-1980s. The Type III’s alias as the “trucker jacket” was coined by Japanese collectors, who were the first to notice the jacket’s widespread use among American cross-country truckers.
Many cite George Harrison for the Type III’s popularity since he wore the jacket during a 1967 visit to San Francisco, where the counterculture youth movement embraced the trucker jacket.
Countless celebrities have worn the Type III, but the reason so many celebrities adopted the jacket was its simple, timeless design. The Type III gets rid of all the extra frills of the previous two types but remains deeply rooted in American style dating back to the 1880s.
The jacket acknowledges the past and anticipates the future. Even though its roots are in working men, the jacket lends itself to much more than men and workers. A women’s fit was actually released in 1969, differing only by a slimmer cut, which speaks to the fact that this jacket does not need much alteration to be worn.
The Type III is a jacket for everyone.