History of The Biker Jacket

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Here’s everything you need to know about the classic biker jacket – where it came from and how it became a staple icon of music subcultures, motorcycle sports and international men’s fashion. From the Perfecto to the Pilot, here is what you need to know about the iconic biker leather jacket.

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The biker jacket is one of those pieces that people instantly love. Stemming from practicality and straight into menswear it has stood the test of time to allow us to experiment with shape and colour within our wardrobes. With the ability to smarten up an outfit, or simply slung over your shoulders for a cracking casual look.

It’s the symbolistic item of ‘cool’, representing the effortless attitude of rebellion. With it’s long timeline of history, we’re not lying either when we say it’s timeless. From the wheels of the bikerheads, to the fashionistas of today,  the leather jacket is your best friend to your jacket collection. Today, it’s easy to find your perfect leather biker jacket. Available now as bombers, classic, pilot, and  shearling lined, it’s no doubt you can find your leather for any style.

Here at Idle HQ we love a good biker jacket and bring it back every season. For that, we thought we’d give you a little background on this classic piece, and some badass facts about the beloved jacket. From the back of Steve McQueen to the rebellious attitude of the Sex Pistols, here’s our quick history of the Biker Jacket.

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Early 20th Century

Originally worn on the field of WWII, the leather jacket has come from a distant past to what it is today. Constructed of warmth and quality, it was the uniformity item for the Miltary. Also known as the Bomber Jacket, the leather jacket was favoured for it’s heavy duty and protection for the aviators and military.

Rendered in brown and later in iconic black, the leather jacket became a popular item across borders. For so, it was then the popularity of the leather jacket was born.

With most uniformity wear, the leather biker jacket soon trickled out of the fields. Like any staple item today, it became noticed for it’s durability and longevity construction. Following its brief introduction from the Miltary, the renowned jacket brand Schott knew where to push his design direction towards. Originally making raincoats with his brother, Schott decided to tap into a jacket that no other label was doing. Named after his favourite cigar, this then lead to the iconic NYC Perfecto Leather Jacket.

1928 schott perfecto jacket history of biker jackets
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With a masculine silhouette and careful construction, the NYC Perfecto Jacket became a staple item, especially within the biker communities. Irving Schott decided to take his design to Harley Davidson store, in the heart of New York, with a selling price of $5.50 (yes, as cheap as they used to be!). From then on, the jacket became a major item for the rough and rugged and essentially the spark of rebellion.

How to Wear the Perfecto Motorcycle Jacket

While the design was first of many, it hasn’t outdated. With the folded lapels, cropped snug fit and zip pockets, the Perfecto Jacket as becoming an iconoclastically item within the Jacket age, and is constantly renewed each year, trend and season. Featuring lapels which could be snapped down or folded over each other,  it’s no wonder the jacket became a protective essential for the bikers of the early 20th century.

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For that, we say the Schott Perfecto Leather jacket, £349.90, is definitely a staple item everyone needs for their wardrobe. Easy to dress up for occasions and dress down for colder days, the jacket is easy to stylise for anything. When opting for the Schott Perfecto jacket we recommend pairing with black slim jean. With its heavy-duty construction, slimming the leg down can elevate the overall look of the jacket.

If you wanting to relive the roots and go for a biker look, opt for a white t-shirt and a Dr Marten 8 Eye Classic boot. This look is timeless, and can become a wardrobe favourite (especially if you are a fan of the colour black that is).

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1950’s to 1980’s

As the popularity grew, so did the jacket. With more labels tapping into the whirlwind of leather, the jacket revolutionised. It became the symbolism of rebellion and the transition of cultures – especially the youth. The jacket successfully demonstrated the meaning of cool, becoming an item pretty much everyone wanting to get their hands on. It’s only thanks to Marlon Brando, who wore the jacket for his 1953 debut ‘The Wild Ones’ (1953). From then on, the Perfecto jacket established itself an iconic statement.

Bands and musicians became to jump on the image, channelling their place in music. With The Ramones to be a very first to adapt the biker image, the leather jacket was the item rendered for punk and rock subcultures. This was then followed by multiple appearances, shaping some of the most iconic looks of Steve McQueen, The Beatles and Elvis.

marlo brando the wild one the idle man leather biker jacket history
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Still, with the feeling of freshness from the 1920’s, it became a popular item for any wardrobe all around the globe. While the focus of ‘hippie progressive rock subcultures’ and music began to phase out, the leather jacket changed the image of rock drastically, embedding the image of rebellion.

People began to love the idea of rough and raw, turning to the essence of DIY in design during the 1970s. Sid Vicious, the bassist from the Sex Pistols is to credit with popularising the personalised biker jacket along with his signature spiked hair. Punk carried a do-it-yourself ethos when it came to image, and so many young punks took typical rock elements like the biker jacket and added on studs, spikes, patches, paint, images of favourite bands and even political/socially aware slogans expressing themselves.

sid vicious biker jacket history the idle man
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How to Wear the Leather Biker Jacket

If you are in need of a look for an upcoming gig or pint down the pub, you cannot go wrong with opting for a Classic Leather jacket. Just like the Perfecto, the Leather Biker jacket is easy to wear with the most simplistic items.

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Pair the jacket with a white Oxford shirt, and a selvedge denim jean. The look is consistent with a defined edge, and the balance between casual and smart. To then complete the look, throw in a pair of Chelsea Boots.

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1980’s to 1990’s

While the Perfecto was successfully representing the mod from the 1950s, the original roots of the Leather Bomber Jacket made it’s comeback, becoming a wishlist item for our wardrobes during the 1980s. With a demanding choice in design, the leather bomber jacket diverted back  into fashionable uniformity.

This then lead to maintaining the demand for leather goods by Schott, bringing out the Scott NYC Bomber with borg collar design in the 1980s. Like the Perfecto, it soon made it’s movie debut. Worn by Tom Cruise in 1986 hit Top Gun, the Schott NYC Pilot became a jacket sensation prior and after the movie release.

the idle man biker pilot jacket top gun
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How to Wear Schott NYC Pilot Jacket

The Pilot jacket silhouette has never really left our trend-radar since the WWII. While the pilot jacket is a big item for us during the  seasons of 2016, the Schott NYC Pilot Jacket, £259.90, is an essential for any jacket collection. Extremely warm, durable, featuring detail of shearling the jacket is easy to wear like the Perfecto.

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So, if you are needing an outfit to elevate your autumn wardrobe then opting for Schott NYC Pilot Jacket is guaranteed to keep you looking sharp on the last few months of 2016. While shearling is dominating the catwalks the AW16 trend season, it’s a jacket that doesn’t let you down and essentially looks better with age. When opting for the jacket, create a country-vibe which is consistent.  Pair the jacket with a grey slim smart trouser and roll neck jumper, with the finishing the look with a pair of black G.H Bass & Co loafers. Keeping you effortlessly sharp, this look will successfully take you through the colder months of 2016.

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The Biker Leather Jacket Today

With its rich heritage, we can agree the leather jacket has made it’s way overseas, through cultures, and big names, it has finished it’s journey into our wardrobes. It’s the item that improves with age, which for us at Idle HQ, makes it a favourite for investing. What has seem consistent throughout the years is the provocative look it always achieves. Whether you are wanting to dress defined or rough and rugged, the leather jacket manages to keep you in check.

The leather jacket has proved to be long-lasting, which no wonder, makes it such a popular fabric today. With the Perfecto still  being remade by different labels and the original label Schott, the leather jacket circle is bigger than ever before. Seen at least once every season on the catwalks and the street, the leather biker jacket is the versatile item you need. Now available as bombers, petticoats and duffles – you can now get your leather jacket to be tailored for any look you wish to go for.

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Biker Leather bomber

The leather bomber jacket can host a multitude of looks and styles. With its classic shape and neutral colour, the leather bomber jacket will be a wardrobe essential for every man. You can go either way with a leather bomber jacket for men, but keep it simple with a black roll neck, and pair of black jeans and a formal shoe. Perfect for the office and a great look to head out to dinner afterwards.

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History of the Leather Biker Jacket

  • While the history of the leather jacket is one of the most influential, the leather jacket is one of the easiest items to dress.
  • When investing in a leather jacket always take extra time in looking for quality and design. Leather jackets are loved because of their ageless ageing. The more tired they look, the better. So if you are in need of a jacket to keep you protected, while also to be worn everyday – make sure you opt for a jacket that can keep up.
leather biker jacket mens paris street style
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On That Note

The biker jacket has, in its 100 year history, become a piece of clothing associated with everything from biking sports to teenage rebellion and cultural identity. It is what people tend to think of when stereotyping a bully or the cool kids because of how the film and music world has given it such a vibe. With it soaring with popularity still and making it’s way onto the rails during the colder months, it seems the Leather Jacket wouldn’t be fading out anytime soon.

Here at Idle HQ our editors will always be fans of the jacket, essentially being labelled timeless by our very own. It doesn’t matter if you’re into bikes or Rock music; the biker jacket will always keep you warm and can protect you against rough terrain if you ever find yourself in a tight spot. As well as being ever so suave it’s certainly worth considering if you want to look like a badass. So whether you are opting for a look for that anticipated date or a drink at the pub with friends, you can always consider a Leather Jacket easy to incorporate with your look.

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