When I first heard about the Americana-gasm of the Levi’s x Pendleton collaboration that hit stores this past Tuesday, I was pretty damn excited. Levi’s recent work with Filson proved (to me at least) that the jeans mega-brand is more than capable of playing nice with others and creating some interesting tweaks on designs using key elements from both parties. Crucially, it also illustrated the fact that Levi’s-proper (not just imprints like LVC) can still make a well-constructed product with quality materials once those dollars tick a bit higher.
That last point is probably the most important to me, as I’ve run into my fair share of issues with fabrics in the main line. It’s especially pertinent because two of the three pieces of actual men’s apparel (there’s also a blanket but I don’t really count that) are takes on the iconic trucker jacket, which I’ve always loved but never purchased due to questionable textiles and sometimes-shoddy construction. But a group of goods made in the US? All featuring Pendleton’s virgin wool in an exclusive jacquard print (using blues, golds, and a bit of red to recall denim, contrast stitching, and red selvage in well-worn jeans) and one with denim from Cone Mills? Salvation at long last! At least, that was the initial reaction.
I was partly right. The rigid Work Shirt ain’t half bad, and the wool-yoked Western Trucker did not fail to impress. The Blanket Lined Trucker though? Not my my cup of tea, not really on par with the other pieces, and pretty disappointing overall.
Let’s break it down one by one.
The Good: The Work Shirt ($118)
Done in a rigid, deep indigo denim with a subtle greycast, it’s a pretty solid example of the breed. The fabric is suitably heavy duty, and the cut is trim in spirit but sized up enough that it can function as an overshirt. In terms of details you’ve got two button-through chest pockets, a box pleat at the back, a tab collar, thick wooden buttons, and of course the iconic red tab on the chest. And then there’s the Pendleton portion: paneling on the back yoke and on the back of the forearms. Nothing flashy, and it works well.
The Bad: The Blanket Lined Trucker ($178)
Considering the fact that there’s a complimentary women’s version, it seems that the Blanket Lined Trucker is supposed to be the shining jewel of the collection. And the Pendleton vest lining, which buttons in and out with some particularly handsome painted buttons, is pretty damn nice. It’s soft, fitted, and warm. But the jacket itself isn’t anything special. The denim itself felt somewhat overprocessed and insubstantial, and the look overall is just “meh.” It’s not a total failing, but it’s not a winner. I suppose you can’t win ‘em all…
The Winner: The Western Trucker
But some can be a winner. And in this bunch, it’s definitely the Western Trucker. Made of rigid Cone denim and featuring Pendletone panels on the yoke and lining the cuffs, it’s a very solid combination on the textile front. The quality of the wool is a given at this point, but it was really nice to see Levi’s step up the game on the denim. Heavy and rigid without being artificially stiff, it feels like it’ll wear like iron. Add the tried and true trucker styling to the mix and that’s really all you need.
As you can see, the Western Trucker wasn’t shot in a Levi’s store like the other two pieces. I decided to pick one up for myself after checking it out, so that backdrop is my apartment.
Whether I’m going to wind up keeping it, though, is another matter. The reason being, it’s kinda tough to work wool jacquard paneling on outerwear into my wardrobe mix, even when it’s a solid and relatively understated one. Despite that tredipidation, it’s still in my place. So we’ll see where that one lands…