The leather jacket has some very interesting rumours about its origin. The most scandalous one being that it was first designed for the German military during the world war. Before the version we know now came into being, they wore long leather coats made out of tougher leathers like horse hide that could withstand extreme weather conditions. It is believed that the shorter silhouette came into being out of practicality reasons for the aviation industry during war time. Once the war ended, the bikers picked it up. The moto jacket silhouette that is popular today came out of a collaboration in 1928, between Irving Scott and Beck Industry, a distributor for Harley Davidson bikes. He introduced the first jacket with a zipper and named his version ‘The Perfecto’. Many many knockoffs of this design exist today. The fashion designers have been re-designing it for decades but today’s motto jacket still resembles the original after a century. That is an ode to great design. ( Honorable mention to Rick Owens for an original design that doesn’t resemble anything I have seen from the past. )
Some iterations through the decades
This is a tiny subset of the versions that existed over the century. Each designer made a few over the years and many iterations of each version was designed based on utility. Car coats, bomber jackets, riding jackets, perfecto with half belt, painted jackets, padded jackets, puffer jackets, … Each industry and country had a few variations. The years of war had its influence. The jazz age in America had its influence. The moto and punk subcultures had their influence … Since the 60s, its evolution has been c/o fashion designers. Monsieur Laurent made a few. Calvin Klein, Helmut Lang, … Ralph Lauren, Michael Kors, Balenciaga, Balmain, Acne, Rick Owens, …. everyone makes a version of it. The dedicated companies that design for bikers, continue to evolve the design. I am researching post 60s evolution and perhaps in a few years, I can make a post on it. If you want a detailed pre-50s history, do check out : The Vintage Jacket. (All the pictures were stolen from this book.) You can stare at jackets for days.
Part 3 – My Perfect Leather Jacket ( coming up )