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Buying the right Lee 101J

Discussion in 'Outerwear' started by majormajor, Mar 2, 2013.

  1. majormajor

    majormajor One Too Many

    A few folks have asked me recently about recognising vintage Lee 101J Denim jackets.

    It's been in production since 1946, and is probably the archetypal denim jacket. It revolutionised Jean Jacket design, gave Lee a huge lead over Levi's and Wrangler, the two other main players in the market.

    If the Levi's type 1 & 2s were the "A1" of the Jean Jacket world, then the Lee 101J was the "A2".....

    But having been made for so long, it has had a few changes. So if you want one that looks right from a vintage point of view, you need to keep your eyes peeled.

    Apart from some very small details, it changed very little before around 1980. But after that, things went a little crazy. First of all, they changed the whole shape of the jacket, and then, horror of horrors, they added handwarmer pockets. Yes, they are convenient, but for the same reason that A2 fans live without them, for a real Lee 101, you simply don't have them.

    So, if you have decided you want a "proper" one, here is what to look for.

    Below is a pic of a pre 1980 jacket (on the left) alongside the "new shape" introduced later. The newer one is still without handwarmers, but that new shape continued when they added them. Both these jackets are the same size.

    If you look at the proprtions of the twin seams running down from below the pockets, the difference is immediately apparent. Also the pockets are a different size/shape, the horizontal seam is in a different place, the bottom hem panel is wider, and the button spacing is different. And the newer one is longer.

    Collectors will look for variances in labelling, which can make a huge difference in the price you pay. But as long as you look for the features on the jacket on the left, you WILL find an original style 101J

    Hope that helps:D;)

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Mar 2, 2013
  2. Sloan1874

    Sloan1874 I'll Lock Up

    I was surprised how short my 101J was. It hits the belt buckle, but that's it. So does my Robucks. I'll post some pics of them later.
     
  3. I'm no collector of anything. However the older 101Js fit me the best of all jeans jackets. I have two of them, wear them often with a duster. Even to the office...
     
  4. Joel Shapiro

    Joel Shapiro One Too Many

    When did they stop making these out of selvedge denim?
     
  5. guygardner

    guygardner A-List Customer

    1970s heavily faded 101J with no side pockets:
    [​IMG][/IMG]
    1980, still dark but faded in spots, 101J with side pockets:
    [​IMG][/IMG]
     
  6. majormajor

    majormajor One Too Many

    Hi Joel

    The construction of the 101J involves the inside seams being turned over, so no selfedge is visible.

    The oldest one I have is a 1965 model, with the early Lee label and a union-made label inside the pocket. No selfedge is visible. I have a Wrangler jacket of a similar age that DOES have selfedge inside seams.

    I could be wrong, but I don't think any of the post '46 101Js had visible selfedges;)
     
    Last edited: Mar 2, 2013
  7. Sloan1874

    Sloan1874 I'll Lock Up

    Pleats need ironing, and a pretty poor pic, but here you go:

    [​IMG][/IMG]
     
    Last edited: Mar 2, 2013
  8. majormajor

    majormajor One Too Many

    Cool fit there, Craig:D
     
  9. Sloan1874

    Sloan1874 I'll Lock Up

    Cheers! Nothing but t-shirts underneath, but I really like the fit and the gf is of the same opinion, so it's a keeper - though how this is a 38 in any stretch of the imagination is beyond me. When the camera batteries re-charge, I'll do the Robuck, which is a little looser, though not much.
     
  10. EmergencyIan

    EmergencyIan Practically Family

    I won this Lee 101-J on ebay for $29, last week. It's in excellent condition. I believe it was made somewhere between 1965 and 1969. I think I got it for such a good price because it was listed (title of auction) as a 1970s vintage Lee Denim Jacket.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    The reason I got this one, is because I won a size 40 regular, from the same era, pre-1970, about a month ago, but it was just a bit too tight when I buttoned it up. That's the thing about these Lee 101-J and the Levi's Big "E" jackets of the same era ... in my experience, once they have been washed, they shrink to the point where the listed size is the actual measurement of the chest. I typically where a size 38 regular.

    By the way, this is the jacket I won a month ago. I need to do something with it, since I cannot wear it comfortably.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    - Ian
     
    Last edited: Mar 3, 2013
  11. majormajor

    majormajor One Too Many

    Very nice jackets, EI:D;)
     
  12. EmergencyIan

    EmergencyIan Practically Family

    Thank you! Both are really great.

    I'm a big fan of the Storm Rider, as well. That's a jacket for another thread, however.

    - Ian
     
  13. Sloan1874

    Sloan1874 I'll Lock Up

    And just for comparison, here's me Roebuck:

    [​IMG][/IMG]

    [​IMG][/IMG]
     
  14. EmergencyIan

    EmergencyIan Practically Family

    That's a pretty cool looking jacket. I've not seen one before, that I recall. And, it fits you better, in my opinion, than the Lee 101-J that you have. You have a little bit of "wiggle room" in it.

    - Ian
     
  15. Sloan1874

    Sloan1874 I'll Lock Up

    Ta. The 101J is definitely a snug fit in comparison, but it's actually very comfortable to wear - fine across the shoulders and sits well around the waist, no riding up when I raise my arms. It's a sort of 'shirt fit' :D They were both nice finds though.
     
  16. Myself, I'm a wrangler man - can't beat those Rodeo Ben designs! - but the 101J is certainly a nice jacket.
     
  17. majormajor

    majormajor One Too Many

    Wranglers are certainly very nice, especially (for me) the zipped varieties. RL are currently doing a copy of one in white. Very cool!:D;)
     
  18. majormajor

    majormajor One Too Many

    Hi Ian

    Here's another pic of a Roebucks Jacket

    http://www.thefedoralounge.com/showthread.php?69721-60-s-Roebucks-Jacket&highlight=roebucks

    Made in the 60's - mine and Craig's are the only two I've seen in the UK.

    Certainly findable in the US though:D
     
    Last edited: Mar 4, 2013
  19. Sloan1874

    Sloan1874 I'll Lock Up

    MM's one is in better nick, though. It looks almost unworn. Mine, on the other hand, is a bit more careworn and was owned at some point by 'Mike', as evidenced by the name scribbled on the inside in ballpoint! :D
     
  20. majormajor

    majormajor One Too Many

    I have a lined Lee 191LB jacket with "Ronald" embroidered inside the hem. I've left in there as that was my Dad's name:D
     

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