The History of the Leather Jacket
While you may believe that leather jackets are generally considered to be a recent trend in the world of fashion, you’d be very much mistaken. They’ve actually been in production for over 100 years, with their first introduction back in 1918. Nowadays, leather jackets are very much associated with celebrity styling and high-end designers.
In this blog, we’re going to take a look at the extensive history of how the leather jacket came to become one of the best-loved wardrobe staples of the generation:
Back in 1918, nearing the end of World War 1, German fighter pilots were first introduced to the iconic leather jacket, which was used as a protective layer to keep warm while flying at high altitudes. The aviator jacket (it’s now known today) was considered practical and convenient rather than ‘stylish.’ What would never have been predicted back then, was how this layer would take over the fashion world just a few decades later.
In 1928, the leather jacket was designed as a fashion-ready staple by Manhattan-based raincoat maker, Irvin Schott. It was structured into a shape that we would now associate with the typical biker jacket. In comparison to practical flight jacket 10 years earlier, this style was shorter in length and was fitted with a more stylish zip fastening as opposed to buttons. It was nicknamed ‘Perfecto’, after Schott’s favourite cigar company.
The 1930s and 1940s
When war broke out again in 1939, the leather jacket was once again designed for military purposes, but this time worn by USA pilots. The classic aviator was given a bit of a makeover from the original design and was lined with sheepskin to guarantee extra warmth and protection when out in extreme climates.
During the 1950s, the leather jacket was sold as an item of fashion, which lead many fashion enthusiasts to jump on the bandwagon and wear it as a casual staple. It’s safe to say that the leather jacket instantly skyrocketed in popularity when it was worn by some of the most famous old Hollywood starts to date.
The very first leather jacket worn casually was by Marlon Brando in the 1953 movie, The Wild One. As Brando portrayed a gang member, the jacket became associated with the bad-boy image. This movie was soon followed by James Dean’s leather jacket moment in Rebel Without a Cause.
The leather jacket became a symbol during this decade - so much so, that it had the ability to shape a persona. The audience knew exactly what to expect whenever a character wore one on-screen, without needing to communicate.
The leather jacket symbolised the youth of the rock and roll generation. Gone were the days of tight formal suiting and instead, a carefree spirit took over the fashion world. This was the birth of the rock and roll era!
It was when the likes of Steve McQueen (with his famous aviator sunglasses) and The Beatles wore their own leather jackets that encouraged the youth to save up and buy their very own. They were no longer worn simply as a practical outerwear piece, thanks to its hard-wearing qualities – it was now a fashion statement.
The 1970s and 1980s
In the era of peace, love and equality, the 1970s was a real turning point for the leather jacket. To assert their beliefs on femininity, leather jackets were being worn by women for the very first time, which stamped out the historically macho trend.
While some of the popular punk subculture bands of the decade such as The Ramones and The Sex Pistols were famed for the leather jacket, female artists such as Blondie stole the limelight with her funky stud-embossed version.
During the 1990s, supermodels such as the likes of Kate Moss made fashion headlines while sporting the leather jacket. During this decade, the jacket underwent another transformation. As opposed to harsh lines and heavy detailing, a softer and more feminine approach was taken, to give the layer more versatility.
Since the 1990s, the popularity of the leather jacket has well and truly soared. With the introduction of high fashion, the leather jacket has been re-born several times to suit personal styles and functions, but for the most part - it hasn’t changed much at all.
Leather jackets are now worn to complement both smarter and casual looks and it’s safe to say, that regardless of the changes in fashion, they won’t be going anywhere for quite a while. Thanks to their versatility and durability, a leather jacket is a timeless wardrobe staple that’ll see you through the years ahead.
Here at LG styles, we have a wide range of genuine leather jackets for both men and women. If you’re as passionate about leather jackets as we are, we’d love you to take a look at our unique designs. We always like to stay on top of trends and are proud to work with manufacturers and suppliers to bring handcrafted leather products right to your doorstep!