Original Levi’s 507XX Biker Vest

A few days ago I already highlighted the history of the Levi’s 507XX (Type 2) jacket. If you missed it, check it here. Today in Part 2 the follow-up with the story behind the biker cut-offs and an example of an original Levi’s 507XX biker cut-off from my denim archive.

The Story Of The Biker Cut-off

Sleeveless biker jackets are also known as the ‘denim cut’ because bikers cutted off the sleeves (and sometimes also the collar) so they could wear them over their clothes. When bikers were making long distance trips during cold weather riding (as in winter, below freezing temps), you know that wearing layers is necessary for keeping warm. When you wear very many layers that have sleeves, it’s very difficult to bend your elbows, so that’s why they cutted off the sleeves. That’s how the denim cut-offs were born.

One of the rumors is that before bikers were wearing leather club vests they wore only denim vests, but they made the change because when the cops busted the bikers they would often wash the bikers cut-offs to wind them up, which eventually led to the move towards leather cut-offs. Original bikers who rode in the ’60’s still wear denim cuts, as once you earn your cut, it’s for life.

Details From An Original Levi’s 507XX

Today, I want to highlight one of my original vintage Levi’s Jeans 507XX (also known as Type 2) jackets from my private denim collection. The jacket is from the 1950′s. The 507XX jacket was introduced in 1953 as the follow up on the Levi’s 506XX (Type 1) jacket. It was produced until 1962. In the year Levi’s officially launched the 507XX jacket, they also introduced their ‘two side’ Levi’s Red Tab. This means that the word Levi’s is written on both sides of the legendary Red Tab. Older styles are written only on one side. Levi’s items made before 1971 have a so called ‘Big E’ Red Tab. This means that Levi’s is written in capitals. Items made after 1971 have a small ‘e’ on the Red Tab. 

Both the Type 1 and Type 2 jackets are made from selvage fabrics. The selvedge can be seen on the inside of the jacket. Normally old vintage jackets are washed so many times that the redline of the selvage is completely washed-out and turned-out in plain selvage. The fabric is right hand fabric which is standard for Levi’s.

The back of the buttons from Levi’s jackets are stamped with digits which refer to the production period, or factory. Most of the Levi’s 507XX jackets are stamped with #17 but some in my collection have the #O stamp. Under the pocket flaps you see bar tacks instead of rivets for extra strength. The first editions of the 507XX jackets have a leather patch, the later version paper tags, but most of the vintage examples don’t have a patch or tag anymore. The Levi’s 507XX jacket have pleats on the front. The horizontal seams holding down the pleats which could be removed to give the wearer extra room for extra layers during the Winter.

An Original Vintage Biker Cut-off 

Denim cut-offs have always an outstanding story to tell. Besides that, they always look very cool! I really like hand made and customized denim jackets, it gives the jacket more character. This vintage Levi’s denim cut-off has a motor club patch from the Far East Atsugi MC on the back. On the front of the jacket it has a Norton patch and several old school pins from Norton, Triumph and an Indian. Check below my Levi’s 507XX ‘Big E’ biker cut-off from the ’50’s.

Read also the previous article about the history of the Levi’s 507XX jacket here.


Written by Wouter Munnichs
I'm the founder of Long John. Next to running this daily magazine, I'm working as a freelance denim specialist for the industry. Titled as 'Denim Influencer 2020' by Rivet 50. Celebrated my 10th anniversary with Long John in 2021.