Good news for your spring outerwear rotation: The perfect men’s jean jacket does exist, and Levi’s has been making it since the ’60s. But let’s back up a bit. See, most things get worse with age. Much worse. After just a couple weeks your milk turns into Campbell’s Chunky soup, gorgeous flowers eventually fill the room with their dying farts, and your favorite TV shows become problematic AF. I mean, just take one look at Gary Busey for chrissake. Select few things buck this trend and get better with age, though: wine, cheese, Beyoncé, and an enduring Levi’s jean jacket.
And that word “enduring” works a couple ways. The style has long been a staple for stylish men, from Steve McQueen to Ryan Gosling and now me, taking my rightful place in this sentence, and maybe you saddling up alongside of me. The denim jacket is a truly iconic style. You could time travel back and forth with a jean jacket without looking out of place; why do you think Back to the Future’s Marty McFly wouldn’t go anywhere without his?
But the stamina that’s been really important to me is how long my own denim jacket has lasted me personally. I got a Levi’s jacket a half-decade ago and it’s survived the Americana trend, brief toe-dipping into streetwear, many Canadian tuxedos, an extremely lazy Bruce Springsteen Halloween costume, and a passing pinning phase. The reason I love this specific Levi’s jacket style—the “Rigid”—is that it arrives untarnished by others and learns about you the more you wear it. The sleeve will eventually grow looser at the exact point you bend your arm to put snacks into your face. If you love to button the jacket, it will stretch, and fade in the process, to accommodate the aforementioned snacks. It’ll be your pointy ass elbows creating rips and tears in the fabric.
There are countless jean jackets that come pre-worn in and pre-distressed—lived in before they’re actually lived in. There are jean jackets with rips perfectly plotted out in a factory and honeycombs—the name given to the pattern created by fades on the inside of the elbows—dreamt up by some designer, but my Levi’s jacket is mine and mine alone.
The fading zig-zags set course across the inside of my arms. The spot where the point of my elbows hit the jacket have worn down and started to eat away at the fabric leaving a web of fibers that are just barely hanging on. I’m not trying to send us back in time to the early aughts when we worshipped the Fade Gods, but there is still something incredibly satisfying about wearing a jacket that looks perfect on you and no one else. A jacket that I bought as a pristine canvas and continue to personalize the more I wear it.
Lasting forever is only part of the jacket’s appeal. It’s just the thing that makes the really good stuff possible. The real reason I vouch for the Levi’s trucker is that by lasting forever it’s able to accrue the wrinkles, creases, breaks, and other signs of age we cherish in our denim and, unfortunately for Gary Busey, not in humans.
Don’t believe me? Just look back at the Levi’s catalog. (Like way back.) The trusted trucker jacket has been a core component of the brand’s offering for over a hundred years, since the late 1800s. It’s gone through a few iterations to become the one you’re looking at right now—the Type III jacket, as denim nerds are wont to remind you—but since 1967, it’s remained basically unchanged. Why? Well, like I said: It’s hard to iterate on perfection. Unless, of course, those iterations are a natural byproduct of good old-fashioned wear and tear. The truly perfect men’s jean jacket is the one entirely distinct to you.