Fashion Icons: The History of the Leather Jacket


The History of the Leather Jacket

The fashion industry has many icons, from printed T-shirts to pearl jewellery, and all of them have a rich history spanning vast landscapes and great people. An icon of outerwear, the leather jacket has a history that carries a rich culture, with visionary designers all the way.

Rise in leather popularity
Leather jackets first came to prominence in the early 1900s. Many members of the military wore brown leather ‘flight jackets’, particularly by members of the air force. During the time of WWII, these were known as ‘bomber jackets’ and were known more for their protective and purposeful nature than their stylistic appearance. However, nowadays many designers seek to replicate the designs with their own changes.


Leather biker jackets were the next major progression for the newly famous fashion icon, and these gained attention in 1928, when an NYC Harley Davidson outlet began selling biker jackets designed by Irving Schott. These designs soon gained mass popularity and at a cost of purchase of only $5.50, they were far from a designer price tag.

Hollywood’s golden age of cinema in the 50s helped give leather jackets their wings, with newly famous icons such as Marlon Brando and Steve McQueen showing the world just how cool they could be. When James Dean wore his bold red leather biker jacket in 1955’s ‘Rebel Without a Cause’, an icon of cinema and the fashion industry was born.

Two decades later, still going strong
If the 50s were the golden age of cinema, then the 1970s were truly the golden age of the leather jacket. Funk, Soul and Jazz music brought about long leather styles that gave a mean edge to frizzy hairstyles that were bold and brilliant. The ‘Fonz’ woke an entire generation up to the black leather jacket with thumbs raised on ‘Happy Days’, and a whole host of other famous individuals made the 70s a great year for leather fashion.


In the latter half of the 70s, punk music and more importantly their fans gave a new lease of life to the leather jacket, adopting the biker style as their uniform for rocking all over the world. Waking up the neighbourhood never looked so good as when bands like The Ramones and the infamous Sex Pistols wore their favourite leather jackets whilst doing so. It was around this time when famous revolutionary groups such as the Black Panthers movement donned leather jackets as their icon of choice to spread messages that were powerful and controversial.

With the mass media exposure and cultural power the leather jacket had gained throughout these few decades, it was inevitable that the style would reach the level of high fashion. Today, many visionary designers such as Giogio Armani take the leather jacket to new heights of style with innovative pieces that grace the shoulders of celebrities the world over.

Bodaskins is a company that knows the power of a great leather jacket, and that’s why they offer their customers the finest in men’s and women’s luxury leather biker jackets. Their range includes iconic styles from military to classic black leather, as well as a custom tailor-made service perfect for anyone.

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