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Published: July 24, 2020
Author: Pareek

Whether you are finally going on that first date with the girl in the library or hanging out with your bros for drinks on the weekend, there is one fashion item that can keep you looking fresh all day long – the leather jacket. The ultimate high fashion apparel combines fashion and function in a way that few others can hope to match.

Popular amid men and women alike, the versatile outfit can be categorized into three mainstream types – the bomber jackets, the biker jackets, and the racer jackets. However, many other types also exist, and the designs in which this outerwear is available in the modern fashion industry are virtually countless.

When we think leather jacket, we think Olsen twins, Kate Moss and pretty much anyone else in the high-fashion, model-off-duty brigade. The innately practical, all-weather jacket may be the unofficial uniform of the modern-day cool-girl-slash-blogger, but the iconic layering piece actually has a very practical start, dating back to the early 1900s during the First World War.

Leather jackets – high fashion since a century and not going away anytime soon!

With a rich history that spans its incarnation from WWI to its presence among the present-day fashion set, it’s easy to see how this versatile closet-staple has retained its cool factor through it all.

Perfect for any and every occasion, this iconic piece of outerwear has been in fashion for more than a century. Since its conception, the leather jacket quickly climbed up the ranks and made its way into all the fashionistas’ hearts.


Before we discuss how leather jackets gained so much popularity and refuse to go away, it is essential to know where our favorite rockabilly outerwear came to be born.

The ultra-stylish fashion item traces its origin back to military wear. It was in the early 1900s during the First World War that the German fighter pilots began wearing the brown leather jacket – that later, in World War II, came to be known as the bomber.

Synonymous with the flight jacket and aviator jacket, the warm bomber jacket was a convenient and sensible choice of outerwear for pilots who had to experience extreme cold at high altitudes. A part of military uniform, the aviators of that time could never have guessed how essential the timelessly chic style would become to the fashion-forward just a few years later.


In 1928, the leather jacket was first introduced as a fashionable garment by the super talented and an inspiration to many future designers, Irvin Schott. His design (as shown above) was similar to the modern motorcycle leather jacket and was named after his favorite cigar company – The Perfecto.

True to its name, the jacket design was perfect – and is highly coveted by fashionistas even today. This OG jacket very much inspires the modern street style leather jacket.

Instead of using buttons for the front closure as was the norm for leather jackets of the time, Schott opted for a daring zipper closure, accentuating the entire look of the garment. This first fashionable leather jacket sold for a measly $5.50, probably the cheapest such a highly acclaimed design has ever been priced at in the history of leather jackets.


Leather bomber jackets had their own fad following. Made of horsehide or cowhide in dark brown or black, almost every man who drove a car or rode a motorbike wore one. Topless convertible sport cars were the envy of every suburban man who longed to escape corporate business life on his way home. Wearing a leather jacket gave him that sense of youthful freedom. Leather made it the most windproof and durable choice as well. Zip out linings made them easy to wash at home.

The black motorcycle jacket with off center zip, slash chest pocket, one button flap pocket, and bottom belt became associated with rebellious youth, even if they didn’t actually ride a motorcycle. For rockabilly greasers, this is the style to wear.

The first time the leather jacket was styled by a Hollywood actor in a famous film was by Marlon Brando in The Wild One. Brando’s character in the movie was a dangerous yet sexy gang member who had a great dressing sense.

This was soon followed by the handsome heartthrob James Dean flaunting the style in Rebel Without A Cause. In this way, Hollywood played a significant part in the history of leather jackets, further encouraging the trend to take hold of the masses. It was because of this adaptation of leather jackets by Hollywood rebels that the jackets began to be associated with a bad boy persona.

As Hollywood realized the potential of the most iconic trends of all times, the leather jacket soon became the next cool thing for fans of the big screen. Rock stars such as Steve McQueen and The Beetles quickly adopted the fashion and leather jackets became synonymous with rock and roll.


At the height of peace, love and rock and roll, feminists asserted their equality and women also began to wear the leather jacket on a widespread scale. Non-conforminst female musicians, especially, began to regularly sport the once male-dominated trend. Sure, rock bands like Duran DuranThe Sex Pistols and The Ramones were wearing roughed-up versions, but female rockers like Blondie and Joan Jett also adopted the trend by adding studs, pins and other mixed metals to the now unisex jacket.

As rock and roll flourished in the following years, so did the favorite outfit of our favorite rockers. A style that was once dominated by men became a hit with the ladies as well. Making the trend equally sought after with all genders was especially assisted by some of the most talented and famous ladies in rock and roll.



Since then, the leather jacket has only increased in its acclamation. Becoming more and more popular with every coming year, the trend has aged like fine wine. With fashion icons and supermodels, the next group to adopt the trend in their own lives, it became more acceptable for the leather jacket to be seen as a softer, more casual, high fashion clothing item.

The leather jacket and its many iterations seems to have found a permanent home in high fashion. Designer takes from Rick Owens, Balenciaga, Anine Bing and other casual-cool brands are at the forefront of celeb street style, gracing the shoulders of many a trendsetter. Today the leather jacket can pass in any situation, casual or formal. Stars like Demi Lovato often sticks to a more rock and roll take, while Rosie Huntington-Whiteley dons a more feminine version.

Since then, the leather jacket has only increased in its acclamation. Becoming more and more popular with every coming year, the trend has aged like fine wine. With fashion icons and supermodels, the next group to adopt the trend in their own lives, it became more acceptable for the leather jacket to be seen as a softer, more casual, high fashion clothing item.

From grunge and edgy studded leather jackets to some vibrantly colored, bold fashion jackets to contemporary, minimalistic designs – leather jackets of the modern times are fit for every occasion.


The leather jacket has had an exciting journey – making its way from the blood and gore of the battlefield to the glitz and glamour of the runway. Throughout the ages, the practical yet fashionable outerwear has kept its enthusiasts warm and snazzy.

Many dapper dressers have made the leather jacket their signature look throughout history, while some others avoided it because it became too mainstream. However, one thing is for sure – whether you think of the leather jacket an overdone look or are all about it, this timeless classic trend is not going anywhere for the foreseeable future.

-By Rukaiya Kudrati





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