The best thing about a great denim jacket is that you’re likely to have it for life. It’s one of those pieces that never goes out of style, and the best of them will only get better with age. Whiskers, what they call the faded creases, are your best friend — and if you wear in some holes, patching ‘em up or leaving them as is only adds to the character. And if you want to take personalization to the next level, a denim jacket is the perfect canvas for patches and pins.
Once you’re ready to commit to a lifetime partner, you’ve got a few decisions to make. How much of the wear do you want done for you? Do you want a shade other than blue or perhaps even an unnatural pattern? Would you prefer a classic snug fit or something boxier and roomy? There are no wrong answers, and the paradox of choice need not apply here.
We’ve put together a handful of options to hold you down this spring and for many more ahead. Throw on your new denim jacket when it gets slightly chilly, sit on it at the park when you weren’t prepared with a blanket, and show how much you love it by wearing the hell out of it.
Levi’s Vintage Fit Trucker Jacket ($98)
There’s nothing wrong with opting for the obvious choice. Levi’s and its storied history of denim is a natural and affordable starting point, and this ‘90s inspired cut comes on a medium wash that’ll give you a head start on making it look lived in.
Levi’s Vintage Clothing ‘80s 4 Pocket Trucker ($295)
You can also go more ambitious while still sticking with Levi’s. The brand’s Vintage Clothing subline looks to the past while working with higher quality materials, and this boxy ‘80s fit is as washed as you could possibly want.
Kapital Century Denim No. 9 Westerner ($730)
Japan has surpassed the United States as the go-to source for premium denim — read about the phenomenon in the excellent book Ametora: How Japan Saved American Style — and Kapital does it better, and while having more fun, than the rest of the country. West meets East perfectly here with shashiko threading and a unique luster that comes from a mud dying technique only done in Omami Oshima.
Visvim SS 101 Jacket ($1,111)
Japan’s other reigning creator of grail-worthy denim is Visvim, which puts craftsmanship above all else. The well-washed jacket here is actually down from nearly $1,600, and there’s a whole bunch of denimheads out there who would consider the markdown a steal.
Acne Studios Black Denim Washed Jacket ($420)
Acne Studios is my favorite source for black denim, and I still need to get around to replacing my skinny jeans with a fit more appropriate fit for today. While I work on getting my shit together, you should focus up top with this jacket hit with just a slight wash.
3Sixteen Type 3s Denim Jacket ($265)
3Sixteen makes its jeans right here in America but knows good and well to get its denim supplied by Japan. The “Shadow Selvedge” color will lead to high-contrast fading with time, and corduroy-lined pockets are a luxurious touch without pushing the price up to match.
orSlow ‘60s Denim Jacket ($365)
A single wash helps this denim jacket look like its been waiting for 50 years for you and you only to wear it. orSlow went great lengths to recreate a ‘60s denim jacket, and that includes excluding pockets as used to be standard.
Ahluwalia Indigo Denim Joy Jacket ($610)
“Joy” is the precise right word for the feeling this wavy, Vernor Panton-esque pattern invokes. By going with three familiar shades of denim, Ahluwalia gives you the chance to freak it without straying too far from the norm.
Neighborhood Fatigue-D / C-JKT ($480)
Who says a denim jacket needs to be cut as a trucker? Cargo pockets and a longer body take this jacket into fatigue territory, while a laser-etched dragon invokes the Japanese tourist jackets that countless World War 2 veterans brought back to the States.