A collage of polaroid photos featuring custom Levi's® Trucker jackets.

A Roundup of Truckers in the Levi’s® Archives

Tracey Panek, LS&Co. Historian
Levi Strauss & Co.
March 3, 2024

The Levi’s® Trucker has become almost as iconic as our blue jeans, and today is one of the most copied denim jackets in history. Made in pre-shrunk XX denim with a slimming tapered style for a flattering fit, the Lot 557 jacket first appeared in our October-December 1961 catalog. When LS&Co. introduced its 505® zip-fly jean in 1967, the jacket lot number evolved from 557 to Lot 70505, since the pre-shrunk denim jean was intended to be a match.

Jack Lucier, who visited the Archives in 2016 to share his story, designed the jacket by sketching it out on a note pad. He did away with pleats and with copper rivets — key elements of LS&Co.’s denim jackets since the 1870s — and drew out two “V” seams that gave a pleasing symmetry to an otherwise boxy shape. (Fun fact: Jack’s father, Chris Lucier, is the creator of our iconic red Tab!)

The design quickly caught on, gaining popularity during the 1967 Summer of Love, celebrities and other style makers have embraced the jacket every decade since, giving the Trucker its own kind of star power. The jackets have been worn in, worn out, painted, patched, embroidered, distressed, torn and reborn as art — and some of them have found their way into the Levi Strauss & Co. Archives.

Here’s a roundup of some of my personal favorites.

Tie-Dye Tradition Trucker (1960s)

A tie-dye Levi's® Trucker jacket on a grey background.

This colorful 1960s Trucker is a snapshot of Summer of Love psychedelic art. The owner tie-dyed the jacket, overdyeing the indigo in multiple colors. It’s the deep red dye, however, that creates a center point. Studs around the collar, pocket flaps, waistband and cuffs complete the design.

Dug’s Denim Art Trucker (1970s)

A dark wash Levi's® Trucker jacket painted with colorful floral details.

To tap into the exploding interest in decorating denim, the Levi’s® brand held a Denim Art Contest in 1973, inviting entries via slides. Hundreds of entries came in, but the one Dug Miles of Macon, Georgia, submitted was a standout. His hand-painted Trucker featured Superman on one sleeve and a dragon on the other. Stylized plants, eyes and a face painted around the Rolling Stones’ logo finished off the jacket. The design was ultimately one of the contest winners.

A Trucker to End the Cold War (1980s)

The back of a custom Levi's® Trucker jacket painted by Terry Pearce, featuring flags and a globe.

Terry Pearce, a communications specialist, had a dream to change the world. In May 1988, he travelled to the then-Soviet Union for the Moscow Summit between President Reagan and Head of State Mikhail Gorbachev. Levi’s® products were forbidden but coveted behind the Iron Curtain, becoming a symbol of freedom at the time.

Terry carefully considered his plan and purchased Levi’s® Truckers from his local Nordstrom store before flying out to the summit, customizing them with flags and a globe to give out to attendees.

The night before the summit, Terry personally delivered the jackets to attendees, even gaining access to the room of broadcaster Tom Brokaw to drop off a Trucker.

A year later, in 1989, young people dressed in Levi’s® items and other blue jeans climbed atop the Berlin Wall as it fell, further establishing the relationship between the brand and progressive change.

A Bull Rider’s Trucker (1990s)

A very distressed and torn Levi's® light-wash denim Trucker jacket with a sherpa collar.

Shawn Edwards had two loves on the rodeo bull-riding circuit: the thrill of the ride, and the feel of his Levi’s® Trucker jacket.

“A Levi’s® jacket becomes my best friend,” said Shawn. “It absorbs the adrenaline behind the bucking chutes ‘til I take it off to mount my bull.”

Shawn spent eight years riding bulls until a final ride sent him to the hospital, where he lay for a week in a coma. His bull-riding career was over, but he kept his well-worn sherpa-lined Levi’s® Trucker jacket as a reminder of his rodeo days until he donated it to the Archives in 2015.

A Trucker Full of Heart (2023)

The back of a Levi's® Trucker jacket that has been painted gold. A human heart is painted in the center and the words "Soy Puro" in blue script.

At last year’s Seen & Heard, LS&Co.’s annual global women’s summit, we issued a global call to our workforce: send us your best Levi’s® Trucker design concept that embodies this year’s event theme, “I Am …” and our teams would turn it into a real-life jacket.

The winning creation was designed by LS&Co. employee Ana Alvarez and brought to life by Bria Cheng, LS&Co.’s lead tailor at the San Francisco Levi’s® Market Street store.

“As an artist and creator, I am so honored to have my work in the Archives and live on at LS&Co. for years to come,” said Bria. “The work reflects my great interest in celebrating and promoting diversity, and I see the contributions as a way of building my own legacy here.”