A 1960s Version Of The Lee 100-J Westerner Jacket
An original example of the legendary Lee 100-J Westerner jacket from the 1960s. Lee introduced this 100-J Westerner jacket at the end of the 1950s for the first time as a more dressed-up alternative to their classic and popular Rider denim version, only the fabric is different.
The Popularity Of The Westerner Jacket
After World War 2, most American denim brands were focussing on the so-called popular dude-ranch vacations and the Western lifestyle that came along. Next to that, these denim brands were also targeting Cowboys, farmers, and the rebel youth too, a group that grow fast due to the fact James Dean and Marlon Brando started to appear on the screens in the now cult movies ‘East of Eden‘ and ‘The Wild One‘.
Also, rock and roll hero Elvis Presley was seen very often wearing denim. In 1964, Elvis appeared in the movie ‘Kissin’ Cousins’ while wearing the Lee 100-J Westerner jacket. The jacket was worn earlier by Clark Gable in ‘The Misfits‘, which came out in 1961, and by Sidney Poitier in the movie ‘Lilies of the Field‘ in 1963.
Lee originally released the 100-J Western jacket so cowboys, and others of course, could wear it on more dress-up occasions. It became a must-have jacket style, for going out to the city, hanging around at ranches, but also for going to school as most schools were still forbidding wearing blue jeans and jackets.
The History Of The Rider Denim Jacket
Lee introduced their denim slim-fitted Rider jacket in 1948, specifically designed with cowboys and rodeo riders in mind. This denim jacket style was promoted as the ‘Genuine Western Lee Rider Jacket‘, and was patented under number #153,438 on the 19th of April 19 in 1949 at The United States Patent Office. Soon, when the patent expired after 14 years, the Rider was copied by many denim brands all over the world, even today.
The Rider jacket by Lee was the first short Western denim jacket with features such as a pleated front, two slanted chest pockets (easy to reach while riding your horse), zigzag stitching on its closure, tailored sleeves with a two-part sleeve construction which provided added comfort and ease of movement, and an adjustable waistband with black cat-eye buttons.
The Special Details Of This 1960s Westerner Jacket
The highlighted 100-J Westerner jacket by Lee in this article is from the 1960s, so an original early example of this jacket style. The jacket is a small size 36 and is Union Made and features branded Lee buttons on the closure. It’s made with ecru cotton fabric, also referred to as off-white. On the front of the jacket is a ‘Star Trek – The Official Fan Club‘ patch added by the previous owner, above the left chest pocket. As the jacket is a small size, this jacket was probably worn by a kid.
The flap of the left pocket features a black and gold Lee ‘HPL’ (Hip Pocket Label) with only a ®, this means the jacket was produced somewhere during the 1960s. The ‘Hip Pocket Label‘ itself was registered in 1956.
Good to know: jackets that only show the ® on the HPL are also known as ‘seconds’. The ‘first’ editions have plain labels on the chest pocket and the ‘third‘ editions have MR + ® on the labels, these were produced in the 1970s and later.
Inside the right chest pocket, there is the Amalgamated Garment Workers of America tag. These tags were used when the Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America (ACWA) was formed in 1914. They say that in the 1920s, the ACWA was the largest men’s clothing union in the United States and responsible for manufacturing around 85% of men’s garments.
The Back Side Of The Jacket
On the back of the jacket is a red embroidery with ‘Carterville Western Store‘. This embroidery was added as a promotion for a store that was selling Western items back in the day. The store was selling everything related to Western, so boots, hats, belts, jeans, jackets, shirts, and so on. The store was located in Carterville, a city in Williamson County, Illinois, United States. Carterville city was established in 1871 and has a rich history that includes a booming coal mining history.
As on the front is the ‘Star Trek‘ patch and on the back the ‘Carterville Western Store‘ embroidery, it could be that the jacket first belonged to a mother that promoted the store she owned or worked at and that she later passed her jacket to her kid who added the ‘Star Trek‘ patch. But, of course, it could also be the other way around. That’s the beauty and romance of vintage clothing, you can’t always track the original history behind each item.
On the back of the jacket, there are waist adjusters so you could easily make your jacket more narrow. The cat-eye buttons are matching the ecru fabric of the jacket, instead of the black versions that were normally used on the denim versions by Lee. The jacket itself is produced in America.
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