A Short History Of The Leather Jacket, From Wars To Catwalks

We do not exaggerate when we claim that every man (but also every woman) has had at least one leather jacket in his wardrobe.

An item that is now considered as a classic garment, a must, something as necessary and basic as a t-shirt or a pair of jeans, the leather jacket is also a garment that is always stylish and fashionable, and never goes out of fashion. You just need to have a look at the catwalks all over the world and at the collections of the main fashion designers to understand that this piece of item of clothing is held as a must-have and as an object that can inspire both the designers that create it and the people who wear it. Lambskin, buckskin and sheepskin leather hides are the main types of leather used for the creation of jackets.

Nowadays the leather jacket is a fashion item that each man wants to have in his wardrobe to show it off when he wants to feel a bit rebel or simply to stand out as a strong and decided person, but this special jacket was born many years ago for completely different reasons.

War Clothing

The leather jacket, indeed, fist appeared during the First World War as a garment used by German fighter pilots. Used as outerwear layers of uniforms, leather jackets had a protective role. They were called bomber jackets and were very appreciated especially for their insulating capacity and warmth. Leather jackets were also used during the Russian Civil War, so we can certainly claim that their first field of application was the military sector.

Soon this garment began to become more popular also outside the military sector, in particular in the 1920s, when the first leather jacket for Harley Davidson was designed by Irving Shott. Unlike the military jacket, this model (named “Perfecto” after a cigar) had a zipper instead of buttons and was a shortened version of it. However, the leather jacket did not dismiss its military role and appeared again during World War II, worn also by members of the USA Army. The legendary A-2 model is still seen as an icon, and some clothing companies still reproduce these jackets, after so many year.

Hollywood

A boost to leather jackets as fashionable garments was certainly given by Hollywood and the many movies that featured stars and unforgettable characters wearing this item of clothing. Movies dating back to the 1940s and 1950s, like For Whom the Bell Tolls, The Wild One and Rebel without a Cause, just to make few examples, contributed to the launch of the leather jacket as an item used by beautiful and charming boys (just like Gary Cooper, Marlon Brando, James Dean and other movie stars), most of them rebel and unconventional. This is how many boys began to conceive this garment as something that could enhance a person’s charm (and maybe attract girls!), as well as a sort of symbol for rebellion.

Leather-Jacket-Marlon-Brando

Marlon Brando

In the following decades the leather jacket affected also other sectors, in particular fashion and music. The Beatles first (in the 1960s), the Ramones, Sex Pistols and The Clash then (form the 1970s on) contributed to associate the leather jacket to rock and punk music. As far as the world of fashion is concerned, we cannot forget the contribution given by designers such as Vivienne Westwood and Yves Saint Laurent. The girlfriend of Malcolm Mclaren (manager of Sex Pistols), Vivienne Westwood transformed the leather jacket into a trendy garment, while Yves Saint Laurent was the first designer to insert leather in his collections not only for jackets, but also for trousers, skirts and so on.  Leather became a fashion material and was then used in the collections of many other designers.

leather-jacket-elvis-presley

Elvis Presley

Modern Days

Nowadays the leather jacket is seen as a fashionable and classic garment, and designers evidently like to reinvent it and give it different shapes. Although the basic model is still appreciated, the leather jacket is now something that can vary a lot depending on designers’ creativity, on contemporary trends and on personal taste. Leather jackets are realized in different colours (not only black or brown!), and shapes, for both men and women, and can be either elegant or casual.

LAS8 paris french leather haute couture 2

The leather jacket is an item that has gone through the decades and has been protagonist in many different fields, and what is certain is that it will accompany us for a lot of time!

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