CULT ITEM: LEATHER JACKET
By Style Feed Staff, 10 April 2017
It was 1928 when American raincoat designer Irving Schott created the first leather biker jacket for Harley Davidson. The ‘Perfecto’, inspired by leather flight jackets worn by military men in the early 1900s, was the first example of the refined silhouette that has become such a style staple. Its robustness saw it keep ties with fans of two-wheelers, with so-called outlaw motorcycle clubs adopting the jacket in various forms as uniform, adorning it with their gang's emblems.
By the 50s, the biker jacket was a prime piece in the tough-guy aesthetic. Hollywood embraced the silhouette and the big screen was filled with the likes of Marlon Brando and James Dean clad in slick leather, taking on the role of the enigmatic rebel. But its uniform qualities remained and rock bands like The Ramones used it less for its hard-wearing qualities and more as a signature bit of kit that emitted a general bad-boy vibe.
There it stayed, a key component of musical identity, with frontmen of countless rock bands donning worn-in, rough-and-ready leather with Aviators, slicked-back hair and the odd smouldering glance at adoring fans.
Like many jackets with military history, the leather jacket has been adopted by designers and turned into a high-fashion favourite – not just for models or budding street-stylers, but for the biggest players in the celeb style game, too. Like A$AP Rocky here, who uses it to tactically dodge overdressing at red carpeted events on the regular.
For the most part, the jacket’s form hasn’t shifted drastically. The archetypal construction – thick texture, buttoned lapels and chunky zips – remains the classic cut but, recently, more minimal, fuss-free iterations have entered our sartorial arsenal. At the same time, punk influence from the 70s has made a comeback, with members of the stylish set sewing patches, pinning badges and even painting custom typography onto their jackets.