The item: the leather jacket


Nothing says rebellion like putting on a leather jacket. This is the story behind an item loved by aviators, motor heads, punks, supermodels – and everyone else.

Like so many items we have written about before, the modern leather jacket too has a military history, and was originally used as a top layer by fighter pilots seated in open and unheated cockpits. This was in the early 1900s, and the jackets they wore came in a bomber silhouette, always in shades of brown and were heavily insulated to keep warm and hold up in tough conditions. Because of these perks, leather jackets soon gained popularity with other groups than aviators. With time, the item started showing up in Hollywood productions and eventually a trend was born.

In difference to almost every other item, a leather jacket instantly adds a sense of cool and toughness to whoever puts one on. So it’s no surprise that the item was the uniform for rock stars like Blondie, The Ramones and The Sex Pistols, as well as iconic film characters like Marlon Brando’s Johnny Strabler in The Wild One (1953). The jacket that made up the uniform of rebellion had little to do with the original bomber-style leather jacket that aviators wore. For punks, greasers, rockers and motor heads, it was all about the biker, a silhouette that has been on trend ever since its launch in the 1920s. 

Matching its proudest wearers’ sense and style, the first biker jackets were created and developed in a basement in the gritty Lower East Side neighbourhood of Manhattan, New York. Leather jackets are great for their resilience, warmth and the fact that most of them look better with age. The bomber-style jacket was great for many purposes – but it wasn’t perfect for motorcycle riding, so the new silhouette added plenty of functional pockets, a reworked collar, zip details and a belt. Today, the leather jacket remains the item of choice for anyone wanting to look effortlessly cool, whether they’re channelling their inner renegade or just want to look good while keeping the elements in check. 

The pictured biker jacket is from the H&M Studio S/S 16 collection and arrives in stores and online on 25 February. The beautiful model is named Laure Julie (Le Management), Lok Lau (CLM) did her hair and Anya De Tobon (LinkDetails) did her makeup.