A Brief History: The Leather Jacket



Today, the leather jacket is pretty much cultural shorthand for cool – put it on and your outfit instantly exudes an edgy, bad-boy quality. Here, a look at how the outerwear icon evolved from protective gear to a modern-day style must-have.

Early 1900s
Brown leather flight jackets are worn by aviators and members of the military. During WWII they become known as “bomber jackets,” prized for their heavy insulation and warmth.

Irving Schott designs the first motorcycle jacket and sells it for $5.50 (yes, you read that right) at the Harley Davidson store in NYC.

Here’s where the Hollywood years come in. Marlon Brando wears a leather bomber jacket and schools everywhere ban “the Brando look,” fearing it symbolizes a rebellious youth culture.

Rebel-without-a-cause (and movie star heartthrob) James Dean is hardly ever seen without his leather jacket, further perpetuating its rebellious reputation.

Paired with his signature aviators, Steve McQueen single-handedly makes the leather jacket the epitome of cool.

The Fonz” debuts his leather jacket on the popular TV show Happy Days. This very jacket remains on display today in the Smithsonian Institution.

Early 1980s
Punk rockers (see Blondie and Billy Idol) give the leather jacket their own spin, adding studs, safety pins, and of course, plenty of attitude.

The leather jacket is an outerwear staple seen on a slew of celebrities. Purchase your own in our Giorgio Armani Men Boutique.

Our Giorgio Armani Men Boutique opens Wednesday, December 19, at 3PM ET.

By Keriann Coffey, Associate Blog Editor

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December 20, 2012