Along with Levi’s and Wrangler, Lee rounds out the trifecta of iconic American denim brands. No other brands have had the same level of impact in shaping what jeans are, which is why collectors often pine after certain eras in each of these brands’ histories. For Lee, no item is as sought out as the Storm Rider jacket. That’s why the brand has dug into the vault and released a batch of classic Storm Rider jackets for the launch of Lee Archives late last week. These aren’t just reproductions, either. They’re genuine vintage pieces, with signs of distressing like elbow holes and fading.
Every denim brand makes a jean jacket, but the Lee Storm Rider is easily identifiable among denim enthusiasts. For starters, it has a lot of history. Lee’s original Rider jacket, released in the 1940s, likely inspired the design of Levi’s own Type III denim jacket. The Type III jacket is the most common style today, with small, high chest pockets and side slit hand pockets, as opposed to the low-cut, large boxy chest pockets and pleated stitching on Type II jackets.
According to denim history site Heddels, Lee released the first version of the Storm Rider in 1949. It featured all of the details that make the Storm Rider such an iconic jacket; there’s the comfortable and rugged corduroy collar, the zigzag stitching, and the rounded chest pockets. And of course, there’s the blanket lining. While a denim jacket is a lightweight jacket that has always been best suited to spring and summer, the blanket-lining of Lee’s Storm Rider adds much-needed insulation. The first jacket to bear the Storm Rider name was released in 1953.
Lee releasing secondhand clothing is part of a broader resale trend we clocked in April of this year. Many brands, including heritage brands like Levi’s and outdoor brands like Patagonia, offer vintage or secondhand versions of their popular styles on their own sites.
Notably, unlike on sites like eBay, the price of Lee’s secondhand Storm Rider jackets is fixed. Every jacket retails for $225. For most of these jackets, Lee estimates that they were produced between the 1960s and 1970s. There is some variation in these jackets; some don’t include hand pockets, while others do. This may be the one instance when having fewer pockets is more desirable. According to Heddels, earlier versions are more desirable to collectors, and these are the ones that didn’t have hand pockets.
Since these are one-of-ones, each jacket comes in just one size, though sizes range from S to XXL. And since vintage sizing can be confusing, Lee has included helpful measurements for the sleeve, back and chest. There are 24 jackets in total available on the site, with four sold already, as of this writing. If you want a piece of denim history, this is one of the easiest ways to do it. And even if you’re not a denim head, these are just damn good jackets. You can see the whole collection here, or check out our top picks below.
Vintage Storm Rider Jacket (S)
Vintage Storm Rider Jacket (M)
Vintage Storm Rider Jacket (L)
Vintage Storm Rider Jacket (XL)
Vintage Storm Rider Jacket (XXL)
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