The iconic leather jacket, made famous by early aviator heroes, have been a main-stay of style for over 100 years.
It was the brown leather jacket that symbolised the character of pilots, and other members of the armed forces, during the early 1900s. During the Second World War, they became known as ‘Bomber Jackets’, and were named as such as they kept many bomber pilots warm during flights at altitude.
It wasn’t until the wider use of cinematic film that the love for the leather jacket gained momentum. So, we have Hollywood to thank for our mainstream affection for this attire.
Most of us have grown up thinking the leather jacket is cool, but have you ever wondered why? The ‘cool’ was engineered in… Hollywood. Yes, we have Hollywood to thank for giving the leather jacket its seal of ‘coolness’. Characters in classic Hollywood films, such as Marlon Brando in The Wild One and Honor Blackman in The Avengers, give these people the ‘cool’ edge which Hollywood intended. Other films have had an equally positive effect on the leather jacket, just look at Indiana Jones, The Fonz, Danny Zuko (Grease) The Terminator, almost everyone in The Matrix and Maverick (Top Gun).
After the leather jacket had the cool thumbs-up from Hollywood, it was time for music to get involved. Bands and musicians from many musical genres have donned the leather jacket. From the early rockers in the 60s and the punk bands of the 70s and 80s to the heavy metal and indie bands from the 70s onwards, the leather jacket is a piece of attire that doesn’t know its own limitations.
Behind Hollywood, and the artists, were the fashion designers. Irving and Jack Schott created a style of leather jacket called the Perfecto. It featured a thick cut leather, snap button lapels and big, heavy zippers. The heavy nature of the jacket made it perfect for bikers. Harley Davidson Motorcycles quickly snapped up the Perfecto and became its first distributor.
Later, during the 1960s, Yves Saint Laurent developed another style of Perfecto leather jackets. This time it featured cleaner cuts and was more lightweight, making it ideal for the Mod scene in the UK. Obviously the jacket doesn’t offer the same protection as the previous Irving and Jack Schott version, but these people are riding around on Mopeds, and not Harley’s. The design was such that, for the first time, woman started to wear leather jackets.
The 80s saw a period of great change. Designers such as Versace and Chanel modelled different versions of the leather jackets, as it acclimatised to Grunge and the alternative styles that the 1980s brought with it.
Since the 1980s, the leather jacket has taken on many different guises. However, it has stayed true to its original as much as possible and is still paraded up the catwalks by designers all over the world.
So, here we are, over 100 years have passed, as well as plenty of fashion trends, and the leather jacket is still cool. It’s safe to say that you need one.