The Birth Of The Levi’s 506XX Jeans Jacket
The Levi’s 506XX denim jacket is one of the most iconic designs ever produced. Originally this style hit the market already back in 1905. Nowadays, this jacket style is also known as the Type 1. Back in the day, they didn’t call it a jacket, but a blouse. It was made of 9oz. unsanforized denim fabric, woven by the Amoskeag Manufacturing Company. They used an extra heavy denim fabric, hence the double XX next to the lot number 506.
Around 1917, the jacket design was named number one, which later switched to Type 1. And, the switch from the word blouse to jacket came in 1938 when the word jacket was used for the first time in the western wear catalog, Dude Ranch Duds.
The Details Of The Jacket
The Levi’s 506XX jacket has a simple, but timeless classic design. The fit of the jacket is short and boxy with pleats on the front. The horizontal seams holding down the pleats which could be removed to give the wearer extra room. The first edtions of the 506XX models has only one front pocket, a silver buckle cinch in the back and no flap covering the front pocket. The later models of the 506XX jacket has a flap over the pocket, rivets in the corners for strength and a bronze buckle back. The silver editions became more valuable than the bronze ones.
The famous Red Tab – Big E – appeared on the 506XX models in 1936, the year Levi’s introduced their famous Red Tab. The word Levi’s was only written on one side of the Red Tab. This changed by the birth of the follow-up jacket in 1953, the 507XX model (also known as Type 2). During WorldWar II Levi’s simplified the 506XX jacket to save materials (metal, fabric and thread) for the War. They skipped the flap above the pocket, and they used 4 buttons on the jacket instead of 5. The buttons on the ‘War’ edition had donut buttons featuring laurel leaves, this as a symbol of peace. (More background about the laurel leaf buttons here.)
Different Versions Of The 506XX Jacket
Levi’s made in total 6 different versions of the 506XX jacket during the years;
- Version #1: 1905 – Release of the original first version.
- Version #2: 1928 – The pocket flap was introduced.
- Version #3: 1936 – The Red Tab was introduced for the first time, but without ‘R‘ and ‘LEVIS‘ only on one side of the tab.
- Version #4: 1941 – During WWII, Levi’s removed the pocket flap and added donut buttons to simplify the jacket.
- Version #5: 1944 – The cinch back slider was introduced for the first time.
- Version #6: 1947 – The pocket flap was reintroduced.
Famous People Wearing The Levi’s 506XX Jacket
The Levi’s 506XX denim jacket was a companion to work trousers. They became very popular amongst farmers and labor workers and later for cowboys too. From the 40’s, and later, famous people and actors and singers were spotted wearing the Levi’s 506XX jacket. It was a style for the true rebels.
Original Vintage Levi’s 506XX Jacket From The 1940’s
This original vintage Levi’s 506XX (Type 1) denim jacket is part of my private denim collection. The jacket was first in the hands of a Levi’s jeans collector from Texas. He bought the jacket from a farmer’s family when they cleaned the abandoned house from a family farmer member after he died. The farmer wore this jacket while working on his farm. The jacket has an extremely light natural sun bleach look from working for so many years on his land. The jacket shows a lot of rusty spots as the old abandoned farm was very soggy.
This version of the 506XX is super rare as it’s made with a light-colored denim fabric and stitched with lemon thread. The most common is a darker denim fabric in a combination of tobacco stitching thread.
Almost all the buttons are broken and missing, only a few are left. The jacket has a bronze buckle back, with a slider instead of pin teeth and has still the ‘one side’ LEVI’S – Big E – written Red Tab. The worn-out frayed cuffs are reinforced with rivets for extra strength. The red line in the selvage on the inside is completely washed out. The fabric is in pretty good condition as you realise that it was used for hard labor on the land during the 1940’s. This original vintage Levi’s 506XX jacket is a perfect example of the American worker’s lifestyle.