by Sarah Makhluf
Sarah is a freelance content writer from Boston, MA. She loves traveling, fashion, and the beach.
How has a jacket that dates back to the early 1900s remained a staple in so many men's wardrobes? Usually, trends come and go, but for the last century, we haven't noticed a break in the production of leather jackets. In fact, today, more are produced than ever before.
One of the main reasons why leather jackets have remained one of the top-selling clothing items is due to their versatility. Greasers, cowboys, police, motorcyclists, punk rockers, metalheads, and so many more all enjoy a great leather jacket. While each style may be different, it's a way for people to show off their favorite bands, pay homage to their upbringing, or stay protected in their line of work. Did you know there is a National Leather Jacket Day? Can you name another article of clothing that has a day devoted to it? Since 1975, the Hell's Angels proposed every June 14th is dedicated to the beloved leather jacket. Read on to learn more exciting facts about leather jackets and how they became the only article of clothing to stand the test of time.
Made from the tanned hide of various animals, leather jackets are designed for many different purposes. Different styles are associated with certain subcultures regarding music, pastimes, and professions. Some leather jackets are made for protection, while others are strictly for fashion reasons. Typically, leather jackets are black or brown, but there are plenty of other color options available. You may be surprised by how many different options there are.
Today's leather jackets come in styles and colors that the first leather jacket wearers couldn't have imagined. We can safely say that with the options we have today, there is a leather jacket out there to suit everyone's needs and fashion sense. Back in the day, leather jackets were quite 'cookie cutter.' People didn't pay attention to how they looked on the body, what colors men might like, or how soft they felt on the skin. It was all about functionality. Leather manufacturers were concerned with two things. Will this jacket provide warmth? Will it withhold harsh weather conditions? Color schemes and cutting the fabric in a flattering way were far from their minds. It wasn't until a couple of decades later that men began to wear leather jackets for fashion purposes.
We see an interesting turn of events in the late 80s. In 1986, when the iconic film "Top Gun" was released, many fans became interested in purchasing jackets that emulated the one worn by the main character, Pete Maverick. His jacket quickly became a pop culture icon, and the film is now widely considered a cult classic. Manufacturers had to look back in time to create jackets that were similar to the ones aviator pilots wore during the war. Today, people still seek replicas of the famous coat for Halloween costumes.
The first leather jackets had nothing to do with fashion; it was all about practicality. Leather jackets first came on the scene in the early 1900s. Aviators and members of the military wore flight jackets made from brown leather. You may recognize the A1 leather jacket, created by Chapal in 1925, which later became the ever-popular "bomber jacket." The sheepskin jackets were part of the military uniform during WWII. They were crafted to keep bomber pilots safe from extreme climate conditions at high altitudes. At this time, you wouldn't see anyone who was not serving in the military wearing a leather jacket. Production of these aviator jackets slowed down after the war.
Depending on why you chose to wear a leather jacket, it can be strictly for fashion reasons, or it can add an essential layer of protection to the body. There's a massive difference between the two. Leather jackets designed for protection are often worn by motorcyclists and tend to be heavier, thicker, and may even come with built-in armor. They are crafted solely for practicality, made for people engaging in what could be a dangerous activity, like motorcycle riding. You wouldn't see a construction worker without his hard hat or a fireman without his protective uniform. For motorcyclists, leather jackets are their safety equipment. Protective leather jackets usually are equipped with heavier zippers, higher collars, and are designed to be longer in the back to help protect the kidneys.
A leather jacket primarily designed for fashion will be much lighter and won't offer protection to the wearer. However, if you're not planning on burning rubber on a motorcycle, then you don't need that extra layer. Jackets made for fashion will still give you a feeling of warmth. Jackets that are made for everyday use give designers more wiggle room to use different fabrics and create new styles without having to worry about the wearer being protected.
The thing we love most about leather jackets is that a diverse group of people wear them. From fashionistas, average Joes, doctors, to bikers, there are no limitations when it comes to leather jackets. Everyone has a different reason for wearing a leather jacket. A biker will wear it for protection while a fashionista will wear it to amp up their wardrobe. What's important here is that there are no limits when it comes to leather jackets. We all have different reasons for wearing them and loving them. Some men wear leather jackets because they like the look, some find them to be the most comfortable, and some say they feel the most confident when wearing a great leather jacket.
Thanks for reading. Did you learn something, or did you already know the history of the leather jacket? Have you been thinking about purchasing your own? This article was a blast for me to write. As someone who loves fashion, the history of fashion has always intrigued me. I think it's fascinating how an item of clothing can tell such a story. I remember seeing a photo of Steve McQueen wearing a leather jacket with aviators from the 1960s and thinking how cool he looked. I went out and purchased my first pair of Ray-Bans shortly after. If you liked this read, please pass it along and let us know what you think about the history of leather jackets.
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