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The biker jacket is one of the most iconic pieces of clothing to ever exist. It has shaped decades of fashion followers’ lives and is still worn today as a classic staple.
A statement piece that instantly transforms any look. A symbol of rebellion, creativity and rock and roll, however its beginnings started out in a more simplistic and practical way.
It was Schott NYC, founded by brothers Irving and John Schott, which first used the zip fastenings on a jacket in 1925. This stroke of genius led to the creation of what was to be the world’s first motorcycle jacket in 1928, which aptly became known as the ‘Perfecto’ jacket.
Built for utility and durability – the diagonal zip, for example, stopped wind passing through the jacket when riding and the jacket from bunching when the rider sat – it was something of an oddity at the time. Leather biker jackets weren’t fashionable; long, wool coats were. The original jacket featured a cropped, snug fit, with a D-pocket and lapels designed to snap down or fold over each other and zip all the way up. Stocked by a Long Island-based Harley Davidson distributor, the streamlined, rugged garment – then honed from goatskin, cowhide or horsehide – was an instant hit with a new generation of biker
It was almost 30 years after its invention that the biker jacket became the sartorial icon that it is today - and it was all thanks to Marlon Brando.
In the 1953 film The Wild One he starred as the Schott Perfecto-wearing leader of a motorcycle gang, and so the jacket’s rebellious appeal hit the mainstream. James Dean followed suit, rarely being seen without his Perfecto.
It later found its way into the punk phenomenon of the Seventies, thanks to The Ramones, while Bruce Springsteen wearing the jacket on the cover of his 1975 album Born To Run only reinforced its cool factor.
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 Duran, The 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.
The rise of the supermodel in the '90s ushered in the age of model-off-duty style. The majority of fashion followers were still high off of lingering alternative rock and grunge trends from previous decades. That paired with the rise of supermodel stardom perpetuated a new wave of casual-chic fashion.
High-fashion supermodels like Kate Moss, who has held onto the trend over the years, pared down the once harsh leather jacket, by wearing less ornate, streamlined versions.
Shop the classic Biker Jacket here