A Brief History of the Denim Jacket

A Brief History of the Denim Jacket

Jeans get all the fanfare, but denim jackets have been a staple in American society dating back over 200 years. In fact, they predate denim jeans.

Every rip and fray has its story when it comes to your own denim jacket, and the history of the denim jacket is just as rich and spirited.

From workman coats to cowboys to Levi’s, this is how the jean jacket has woven itself into the fabric of American culture.

Mid- to Late-19th Century: Fireman Work Coats

Japan introduced the world to indigo dye, and set the groundwork for the origin of denim. Denim was used specifically as chore coats for firemen known as hanten. As you may’ve guessed, denim wasn’t the best material to combat fire with, as flying embers would catch loose threads and ignite the fabrics.

Circa 1905: The Original Levi’s Type I Jacket

The OG denim jacket. Levi Strauss’ inimitable design brings the denim jacket to the modern era, using different cuts and fabrics while maintaining that same rugged, comfortable workwear vibe. Levi’s sets the standard for years to come.

1919-1945: Army Work Attire

Known as ‘working blues’, the U.S. Army adopted denim as their standard uniform in place of the old brown twill and canvas used for decades prior.

1953: Levi’s Type II Denim Jacket

Take two. Innovation hits Levi Strauss on the head once again, as he evolves his original Type 1 denim jacket to the Type 2. This one’s characterized by the two chest pockets and loss of back cinch.

1957: Jailhouse Rock

While denim jeans were the bee’s knees thanks to Marlon Brando’s role in Rebel Without a Cause, denim coats had to wait until Elvis Presley’s Jailhouse Rock to hit Hollywood. The movie made such a cultural impact on American fashion that Levi’s eventually released a line of Elvis Presley black jeans (why not jean jackets though?).

1962: Levi’s Type III


Third time’s a charm. The final iteration of the Levi’s jean jacket; you’ll know this one as the classic trucker coat – complete with pointed flaps on its front chest pockets that have since become the standard.

Mid-‘80’s to Mid-‘90’s: Designer Denim

Denim hits the runway as Calvin Klein, Diesel, Guess, and other prominent designer labels embrace one of the least high-fashion materials in American history. Designer denim showed that jeans were still downtown cool, too, a belief that seemingly died as jeans became synonymous with middleclass workfolk.

Today: The American Tall Denim Jacket

All those denim threads lead to today’s jean jacket. The denim jacket is back in full force, with both retro and modern stylings finding a home in men’s fashion.


 american-tall-denim-jacket american-tall-jean-jacket

The American Tall Denim Jacket embodies years of American culture, confidence, and tradition with all the modern trappings today’s tall man needs from his coat. When we think tall denim jacket, we think wind-tossed, sun-beaten, careless. We think traditional fit, embossed buttons, adjustable waist, just like Dad’s old jacket. But we’ve also added some modern alterations that inject that signature American Tall DNA into our wears.

Do yourself a favor and grab a tall jean jacket – we promise you’re going to wear it for years.  And that’s okay. You’ll be in good company, amongst the denim trendsetters that have always been a part of America’s culture.

James Dean. John Wayne. John Lennon. Bruce Springsteen. (Your name here.)

If you’re not an owner of a tall men’s denim jacket, rectify that oversight and visit our website for the latest denim drips from America’s tallest clothing company.