STYLE AND CULTURE
CULT ITEM: BOMBER JACKET
By Matt Glazebrook, 15 September 2018
As its name suggests, the classic bomber jacket has a military heritage. Created for US pilots in the 40s, the bulky leather G-1 has become something of a cult streetwear item over the years, thanks in no small part to Tom Cruise's look in Top Gun (stay tuned for the return of those aviator sunglasses and toothy grin with the Top Gun 2 reboot, due for release in 2020). But it's the more comfortable, soft-shelled cousin of the G-1, developed a decade after the original 1986 blockbuster, that’s arguably the more enduring style icon.
Warm enough for hanging around street corners in, yet lightweight enough not to hamper you when scarpering from pesky authority figures, the bomber jacket has long been a youth tribe staple. James Dean's iconic character in Rebel Without A Cause, troubled teen Jim Stark, famously sported a red version, while the collarless, nylon MA-1 – matched with cherry red Dr. Martens, tight blue jeans and a freshly shorn bonce – became synonymous with the 70s skinhead scene.
Though the skinhead movement's descent into knuckleheaded neo-Nazism (as depicted in Shane Meadows' This Is England) threatened the bomber jacket's universal appeal, credibility was restored by the embrace of the item by the hip-hop movement in the late 80s and early 90s, with Public Enemy noted fans.
Today, the classic versatile waist-length cut of the MA-1 ensures its status as a timeless wardrobe staple. Traditional olive green, navy blue or black varieties will see you through autumn after autumn – or you can opt for a burst of seasonal colour (rust, caramel, burgundy, or even emergency orange) for a bang-on-trend approach. Some of the beloved derivatives offer even more opportunity for a stylistic statement – the woollen Letterman jacket with its leather sleeves and all-American varsity badges, and the silky sukajan with Japanese-inspired embroidery.
To show you’re ready for AW18, why not don an all-black ensemble? Make like this guy and opt for a black bomber jacket, then base the rest of your threads around it for a monochrome, minimal getup. A beanie hat, sweatshirt, side-striped tracksuit bottoms and fresh creps will give a distinct streetwear edge – and because your outfit's all one colour, the structure of your bomber jacket will stand out even more.