Leather Jacket: A Century of Rebellion

·         Its first forty years lived in total marginality, associated with the needs of aviation in war and gangs of bikers who lived on the fringes of the law. But his indomitable spirit captivated the French designer Yves Saint Laurent, who became the undisputed star of the collection you created for the House of Dior in 1960. Today, at the edge of the hundred years, shining, once again, on the catwalks of the world as a cultural icon of eternal youth.

Was in the first World War when the confrontation among allies and representatives of the central Empire earned their first victims, the first time that he was seen in action. The pilots of the “bombers” aircraft of the Real body of aviation in Belgium and France were the first who made long leather coats in the year 1915. Command in combat ships cabins were not closed and leather were believed was one of the most thermal materials available to protect them from the weather. According to ewenzhou, this invention did not pass unnoticed to us forces, and two years later created their own leather jackets, where the term “bomber jackets” was born.

The jacket-A2, a version at the waist which became a standard part of the American military uniform and that is still the most popular was born in 1931. Then the Navy fliers devised its own model, known as the M44.

Considered the first garment created without a commercial but hundred percent utilitarian purpose, was precisely in the Decade of the 30 when were given the turn which transformed them into the icon garment that we know today: they shortened and acquired a style of rider, adjusted at the waist and wrists to lovers of speed could protect themselves from the cold air. Then it was incorporating other modern details and became more belted at the waist.

In 1928, brothers Irving and Jack Schott Schott Brothers North American shop created at the request of Harley Davidson motorcycles industry which is considered to be a model to which baptized as “Perfect motorcycle jacket”, for being the favorite Cuban cigar of Irving. The jacket that had an approximate cost of US $100, was made with horse black leather and had an asymmetrical zipper at Center, large flaps, chrome fittings and its design was cinched at the waist.

Since it began to be sold, lived more than two decades of anonymity until in the 1950 Marlon Brando appeared with one of them on tape The Wild One. In the film of director Laslo Benedek, actor epitomized the leader of a gang of bikers who was driving a Triumph Thunderbird with a cigarette in his lips. The character became the object of desire of women around the world. So after shine on the big screen, the creation of the motoquera industry became the garment fetish that most of the men wanted to have. For fashion historians, then became a first great triumph of popular culture in the world fashion.

James Dean was another strong supporter and adopted that style as his uniform: “Perfect” and a white t-shirt. In fact, they say that it is the jacket that he wore the day he died. Another plus point to enliven the rebel myth of this garment.

However, this also had the side B. The image conveyed by Brando and Dean was of bad guys but cool and then the leather jacket teamed with thugs and shoots of juvenile delinquency by what many colleges and universities tried to ban their use. Clear that without success. Over time, would be the redemption.

“Even though that is a model that was made so long ago, is now the standard jacket and which more is seen on the street,” explains Kristen Haggerty, curator of the exhibition Beyond Rebellion: Fashioning the Biker Jacket of Fashion Institute of Technology in New York. In his view, is the intelligence that there are behind the press and its association with symbols of “rebellion and modernity” which explains how with nearly a century of life does not lose validity. “It was breaking the rule and do something different, it was not only the style of the garment but that it was also associated with quarrelsome, as still happens today when people put the jacket. Therefore, throughout history various countercultural movements have used this garment from punks, rockers and pop singers”.

The first designer who saw his potential was Yves Saint Laurent, who, in 1960, presented his first leather jacket at a collection for Christian Dior inspired by youth culture. While aroused applause also brought with them a series of questions to the fact that the inspiration came from an accessory so far associated with marginal life. This provoked an earthquake among fashion purists who did not understand that the street culture began to influence high-design brands. “At the end Sain Laurent proposal succeeded in that jackets become somewhat ‘acceptable’ and ‘modern’, as it is the case today. When no one would dare to doubt that it is a garment that is already adapted to the changes and trends of the moment”, argues Kristen Haggerty.

Throughout history, many musicians have made it part of his uniform. Since Elvis Presley that reached more than one million to The Rolling Stone who made part of his music, passing by Madonna that used it as unique clothing in his provocative book Sex and Michael Jackson that gave the place starring on the cover of their celebrated album Bad. But the punks were that became the canvas where protesting against the system, writing slogans, placing patches and studded which symbolize bullets on the leather.

Every designer who knew how to shine in recent decades has its own interpretation for a product that does not just grow with the passage of the years without losing the joviality of its beginnings. In the 1980s, it was Carolina Herrera who gave the maximum of glamour on the catwalk, by leaving the first row over a model of black velveteen with an asymmetrical zipper and belt game. In the 1990s Versace and Chanel make it the star of several seasons with different lengths, colors and applications that mimic exotic as crocodiles or snakes animals. However, today when he headed a new reign, the classic model still impose as almost a century ago.