The mythical leather jacket. The cool, easy rider symbol for all rebels, bikers, Top Gun rock stars, punks, goths, metal heads, rivet heads, modern day warriors and even the police, who’ve worn versions designed for protective purposes and occasionally for their potentially intimidating appearance.
Looks above from Bottega Veneta, Burberry & Z Zegna.
In the 20th century the leather jacket has achieved iconic status, in part due to popular culture. Remember the Perfecto motorcycle jacket worn by Marlon Brando’s Johnny Strabler character in The Wild One (1953)?
How about The Fonz’s ‘greaser’ jacket in the television series Happy Days? It’s achieved such great heights of leather notoriety that it’s now housed in the Smithsonian Institution and in eons to come, our descendants will exclaim in wonder at the lasting legacy of cool embodied in a cow hide coat.
Then there’s Blade. No one yet has carried off the long leather jacket as well as Wesley Snipes, not even Steven Seagal in his custom ¾ length leather trench coat nor Keanu Reeves and Laurence Fishburne in The Matrix films.
The leather jackets worn by aviators and members of the military were brown and frequently called “Bomber jackets” as seen on numerous stars in the 1940s and 1950s such as Jimmy Stewart in the 1957 film, Night Passage. Bomber jackets, often with sheepskin collars, have remained popular, even appearing on the sets of Top Gun, X-Men, The Dark Knight and Mission Impossible. And in most of these examples, the leather jacket brand seen onscreen has been the iconic ‘Belstaff’.
When it comes to colour, it doesn’t always have to be black. Brad Pitt’s ‘Tyler Durden’, in the movie Fight Club, appears with different variations of his ‘red’ leather jacket.
The brown leather jacket has also been a de rigueur part of the wardrobe of a Hollywood adventurer, from Gary Cooper in For Whom the Bell Tolls to Harrison Ford in the Indiana Jones film series.
In particular, the tan leather jacket has become very popular with the Brit Pop and Indie music image and culture and is famously worn by people such as Kelly Jones of the Stereophonics.
The Punk culture also “rocks” the leather jacket with accessories suck as chains, studs, cuts, and sketch designs. Many “Metal Heads” go with the Judas Priest look (black leather jacket, black leather pants, chains, and tons of studs.)
There is a substantial difference between leather jackets designed for fashion and those worn for protection (a la motorcycle riding). Made-for-Fashion leather jackets are not likely to be of much use in a motorcycle accident due to their light construction.
Leather jackets designed for protective use are safety equipment and are heavier, thicker, and often equipped with armor, thus becoming a very practical item of clothing regardless of the symbolism invested in them by popular culture. 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 so as to protect riders from the cold while they are bent over their machine.
It’s a no brainer. Every man ought to invest in a great leather jacket and while you may not be necessarily be channeling the Black Panthers, the Ramones, the Libertines or trying to masquerade as a member of a heavy metal subcultures, you’ll appreciate the cool class that a we’ll fitted, excellently cut leather jacket will add to your wardrobe.
Style Tips: How to wear a leather jacket:
Pull on skinny or straight pant jeans – Throw a bold graphic tee on top and slip on destroyed Converse or Superga canvas hi tops – preferably in a dark colour. Simple, effective, cool. Dsquared2 show off their new SS2014 range with graffiti. Many other jackets in this genre rock studs and two tone leather panels, heavy embellishment and the latest effect, dye-cut leather panels.
Start with a checked or coloured shirt. You can choose to opened that over a plain tee, a vest or keep it buttoned up, both work just as well. Jeans – blue or black to provide a dark contrast for the checked shirt and then the leather jacket thrown over it all. If it’s cold, a scarf will add some panache to the finished look.
Slim jeans are a must but they shouldn’t really be skinny in this instance. We want to tuck them into the military boots but want to keep some width in the leg for that military/worker vibe as opposed to rocker. You can also opt for Converse trainers, if them boots are too chunky for your liking.
Start with a great pair of smart slim fitting trousers. Then an antiqued formal shoe followed by a light piece of knitwear and then the leather jacket over the top. You can layer up the look with knitwear if you want… if you wear a cardigan then try a v-neck t-shirt underneath, or if you go for a v-neck knit then you can rock a crew neck underneath. The options are there for you to play with to create your look. If you’re in the sun, then sunglasses would definitely round it out with that extra bit of cool.
Here are a few of the latest leather jackets on offer, from hi-end designer to mid level brands and also riding jackets from mo’bike gear retailers. Click on the ‘i’ to find out more about the brand and the $$ you have to part with to get that stylish look: