Leather jackets have a long and intricate past that winds itself through our history and our different identities. Having changed its own perception throughout the decades, you may be surprised to see just quite how much leather jackets have evolved through time.
Come and read with us as we show you how this fashion statement made itself apparent from the beginning, how it has adapted to the times, and what it has become today in our time.
Start of the twentieth century
Leather jackets were invented in the early 1900s. Primarily this attire was created for function more than fashion but that certainly didn't stop them from looking mighty fine at the time.
Having its roots deeply entrenched in the military, in 1917, these jackets were put into production as “aviation jackets” for the pilots of World War 1. These insulated and very durable jackets became a necessary piece of attire for the airforce since the aircraft itself was often open air without any insulation.
Later these jackets would become known as “bomber jackets” but they retained the same function using sheepskin inlining to keep the pilots warm at high altitudes.
Fashion in the 1920s
A man by the name of Irving Schott noticed the fashion potential for these lovely jackets and decided to start promoting them not just as something functional but as something stylish too. One of the main changes he made to the jacket was to remove the militaristic buttons and place a zipper on the front instead.
As a daily wear item, he sold his first jacket for just over five bucks and tailored its asymmetrical cut so that bikers could wear the jacket and lean forward over a motorbike with ease. This resulted in a huge hit amongst the biker communities who started to all buy leather jackets.
A movie sensation in the 1950s
If you are familiar with any black and white movies then you most likely already know how icons like Marlon Brando and James Dean brought leather jackets to the silver screen. Capturing the hearts of their audience through movies like “The Wild One” and “Rebel Without A Cause”, it soon became a look worthy of imitation.
Even today, many look back at these exceptionally snazzy-looking actors and continue to want to carry off the style that they brandished with their attractive leather.
Looking cool in the 1960s
The movie sensations continued into the sixties and now it had become synonymous with looking cool. Even Steve Mcqueen who was dubbed the “King of cool” could be said to have attained his status due to his frequent use of the varying styles of leather jackets.
From there the music industry started to adopt this look and even famous bands like “The Beatles” chose to include leather jackets as part of their look. By now, the variety and styles of leather jackets were becoming bountiful.
Being rebellious in the 1980s
Between the seventies and eighties, leather jackets became a common attire for women as well as men, opening up a lot of possibilities for fashion icons, pop stars, and movie actresses. However, at the same time, during the eighties, it took on the persona of a bad boy or bad girl image. This meant that if you wore a leather jacket on a regular basis, you were perceived to be a bit of a rebel.
This was popularized through mainstream TV with characters like “The Fonz” from Happy Days and through various rock artists who were keen to maintain a specific image that was associated with the leather jacket during this time.
Music culture in the 1990s
Perceptions and stereotypes wound down over time and the bad boy or bad girl image eventually dies down. This made it much easier for everyone to enjoy this comfortable fashion choice without fear of categorization.
However, many many, boybands and grunge groups favored leather jackets above all else and it, therefore, did become somewhat associated with this type of group. Between bands like NSYNC, Backstreet Boys, and many more, the music industry continued to thrive on the leather jacket look.
Leather Jackets today
With a rich history to draw from, leather jackets have become a popular fashion choice for men and women around the world. No longer is a leather jacket associated with any group or personality trait and the sheer variety of styles has become mind-boggling.
Now leather jackets can be used for casual wear, formal events, bracing the outdoors, and almost every other possible situation that you can imagine. Despite having remained popular in the history of over 100 years, these incredible fashion statements have only just begun their journey and they will likely continue to evolve and develop into new and stunning attires through each oncoming decade through our century.