A leather jacket is a jacket-length coat that is usually worn on top of other apparel or item of clothing, and made from the tanned hide of various animals. The leather material is typically dyed black, or various shades of brown, but a wide range of colors is possible. Leather jackets can be designed for many purposes, and specific styles have been associated with subcultures such as greasers, rednecks, cowboys, motorcyclists, military aviators, mobsters, police, secret agents, and music subcultures (punks, goths, metalheads, rivetheads), who have worn the garment for protective or fashionable reasons, and occasionally to create a potentially intimidating appearance. National Leather Jacket day occurs every June 14th since the Hell’s Angels proposed the idea in 1975.
Most modern leather jackets are produced in Pakistan, India, Canada, Mexico and the United States, using hides left over from the meat industry. Fabrics simulating leather such as polyurethane or PVC are used as alternatives to authentic animal hide leather depending on the needs of the wearer such as those pursuing vegan lifestyles or for economic reasons as synthetic fibers tend to be less costly than authentic leather.
In the early 1900s aviators and members of the military wore brown leather flight jackets. One of the first modern leather jackets the type A1 was created by Chapal in 1925 . During the Second World War the garments became known as “bomber jackets” and were heavily insulated and prized for their warmth. The jacket was often part of an overall uniform-ensemble meant to protect bomber pilots from exposure to the extreme climate conditions found at high altitude, and often incorporated sheepskin, using the intact fleece on the inside for warmth.
Russian Bolsheviks commonly wore leather jackets, which became a quasi-uniform for commissars during the Russian Civil War, and later for the members of the Cheka. Yakov Sverdlov allegedly initiated this practice
Antelope, buckskin, lambskin, sheepskin and cowhide are the hides most commonly used to make leather jackets. As soon as the skin is removed from the animal at the meat processing plant, it is refrigerated, salted, or packed in barrels of brine. It is then sent to the tannery where the skins undergo a series of processes designed to preserve and soften the hides. Sewing materials such as thread, lining, seam tape, buttons, snaps and zippers are generally bought from outside vendors and stored in the garment factory.
the latter half of the 20th century, the leather jacket—in many forms—achieved iconic status and general acceptance through an inextricable link to Hollywood. Such jackets were popularized by numerous stars in the 1940s and 1950s, including actor Jimmy Stewart in the film Night Passage (1957), who had actually commanded a U.S. bomber squadron during World War II. The brown leather jacket has become a de rigueur part of wardrobe for the Hollywood adventurer, from Gary Cooper in For Whom the Bell Tolls to Harrison Ford in the Indiana Jones film series.
invested in them by popular culture. A leather jacket primarily designed for fashion purposes would not be much protection in a motorcycle accident because of the jacket’s flimsy
construction. Motorcycle jackets often have more substantial zips, weatherproof pockets and closures, higher collars, and are styled to be longer at the back than the front to protect the kidneys of the riders from the cold while the rider is bent forward over the motorcycle.
A leather jacket could be used to shape a character, providing an important ingredient used to define the very essence of ‘cool’. Prime examples include the Perfect motorcycle jacket worn by Marlon Brando’s Johnny Strabler in The Wild One (1953), Honor Black man as Cathy Gale on The Avengers, and Michael Pare in Eddie and the Cruisers duo (1983 and 1989). As such, these all served to popularize leather jackets in American youth from the “greaser subculture” of the 1950s and early 1960s. Later depictions of this subculture are seen via The Fonz from the television series Happy Days, which was produced in the 1970s and 1980s, but shows life in the 1950s and 1960s (Fonzie’s leather jacket is now housed in the Smithsonian Institution), and in the film duos Eddie and the Cruisers and Grease. Flight jackets, also (occasionally with fleece collars, as seen in the film Top Gun (1986), have remained fashionable for decades.
There is a substantial difference between leather jackets made for fashion purposes, and those worn for protection, such as motorcycle personal protective equipment. Leather jackets designed for protective use are safety equipment and are heavier, thicker, and sometimes even equipped with armor, thus they are a practical item of clothing regardless of the symbolism
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A motorcyclist wearing helmet, gloves, boots and leathers slides along a racetrack after crashing
Some riders balance safety with other priorities in choosing what equipment to wear.
To improve motorcycle safety many countries mandate the wearing of personal protective equipment such as protective clothing and helmets. Protective clothing may include certain types of jackets, gloves, boots, and pants. Jackets meant for motorcyclists are typically made of leather or specialized man-made fabrics like cordura or Kevlar. These jackets typically include heavy padding on the elbow, spine, and shoulder regions. Gloves are generally made of leather or Kevlar and some include carbon fiber knuckle protection. Boots, especially those for sport riding, include reinforcement and plastic caps on the ankle and toe areas. Pants are usually leather, cordura, or Kevlar. Except for helmets, none of these items are required by law in any state in the USA, or in any part of the UK but are recommended by many of those who ride.
“Off road” riders wear a range of plastic armour to protect against injury from falling off, hitting other riders and bikes, debris kicked up from the rear wheel of leading bikes, and from running into track barriers protecting the public. This armour protects the extremities from breakage and dislocation and the back and chest from strain and broken bones. Although fairly efficient, it is of course not always completely effective. Many riders wear “roost protectors” designed specifically to protect against painful debris from other bikes, but are of no use in a fall or collision.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!