Style, Trends

A Brief History of the King-Of-Any-Wardrobe Leather Jacket

A Brief History of the King-Of-Any-Wardrobe Leather Jacket

The Men’s Folio team is pretty game to try anything new, bizarre or “ugly” in the name of fashion — boxy Claude Montana suits, frankenstein sneakers or even platform boots — but that doesn’t mean we’ve necessarily abandoned the classics like dark-wash jeans that are preferably made using Kaihara denim, plain crew t-neck tees that range from Calvin Klein to a three-pack from Muji and lastly, the biker jacket.

Here, a brief history of the few good folks who keep the classic moto a perennial staple in their closet and the designers who are dishing it out for the season. In case you’re not dialed in, Men’s Folio has two reasons for one to don a moto on — it makes you look instantly tougher (even if you are scared of butterflies or kittens) and a camel brown one jazzes up any and every fit.

Pictured Above: It might be the 70s shaggy hair or the fact that The Ramones trashed every hotel room they’ve occupied but as they say, punk rock never dies. The slogan is relevant too for the classic biker jacket with padded sleeves. 

Burberry’s Sparkle Touch

The shiny number from Riccardo Tisci’s Burberry Fall/Winter ’19 show riffs on 90s music and club culture.

The First of Wars

In the first half of the century when the aviation industry was booming, the open cockpits of planes meant that the chances of freezing mid-flight were as close to death as the pilots could get. The classic aviator jacket (titled the A) was then invented to insulate body heat with materials like sheepskin, fur, and tough weather-resistant leathers.

Post World War 1, the A aviator jacket morphed into the B3 and B6 — the former featured a wide sheepskin collar with two neck straps and the latter featured a single leather throat latch and a slimmer cut.

Dior Men’s Choice Cut

Kim Jones sticks to the classic cut for Dior Men — the B Aviator model with a shearling collar and zips on the front.

The Casual 40s

Post WW1, most men kept their clothing from the 30s and wore them well into the 40s as a sign of support for their fellow Americans who fought in the war. On a darker note, a lack of finances caused by the war meant that they also could not afford new pieces. The classics of the era included trench coats, bomber jackets, heavy wool knits, and aviator glasses — pieces that were worn by soldiers themselves.

Improvements to fabrication and a boom in the textile industry meant that brands were also quick to adapt to the military trend by offering a new casual silhouette for men. Pictured above in a vintage ad, the leather jacket featured a relaxed silhouette and wider sleeves: a response to the relaxed look that the men of the era wanted to adopt.

If one is wondering how casual the men wanted to be in the 40s, Men’s Folio has the answer — they would wear Hawaiian shirts all-day long in the summer. Yes, even at night to party.

Dolce&Gabbana’s Men of Leisure

Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana grab their Italian studs by the cuff and propel them back into the 50s.

The Teddy Boys

One part inspired by the dandies in the Edwardian period and one part inspired by American rock and roll music, the predominantly British phenomenon — Teddy Boy — was the second generation “mob gangsters”.

Besides the classic leather moto jacket (the sleeves were always padded as they had a proclivity for motorbikes), their favoured footwear included oxfords, brogues, and creepers while their hair was cut in the “Boston” style — greased straight back and cut squarely across at the nape.

While the style has tapered down in the years, British rock stars like Alex Turner from The Artic Monkeys are keeping the flames alive.

Givenchy’s New Romantic

Clare Waight Keller describes her collection as perverse poshness. Men’s Folio describes it as Timothée Chalamet latest fit.

The 80s Japan Rockabillys

In ’55, the hit song in the land of the rising sun was “Rock Around the Clock” by Bill Haley & His Comets. In that era though when Spotify or the internet wasn’t available, the only way the youths could listen to music was on the radio or records. A cash grab by Japanese music labels who got their own bands to do American song covers, this birthed an imitation of the American Rockabilly style and manner amongst the Tokyo youths.

While one can claim that the all-black uniform closely matches their American counterparts, the Japanese took it to a new height — namely, their magnificently coiffed hair and souped up motor bikes that can be heard from streets away.

Hermès Sorbet Servings 

The French leather house continues to serve sumptuous jackets in classic or sunny shades.

Baby Face & Kate Moss

Before his mainstream success in the noughties, Johnny Depp was the poster boy for the grunge look of the era — a worn-in biker jacket, baggy Levi’s 501s, and messy unwashed hair.

Even at the age of 56, Depp still dresses like he did in his early 20s which proves that this look will always make one appear dialed in. A black leather jacket, piles of man jewellery, worn-in jeans, a rocker goatee, and a never-say-die attitude.

Versace’s Punk Revival

Men’s Folio has mentioned punk quite a few times in this article and it’s fitting that we end off with Versace — a no-fail biker paired with tartan and pins.