A Brief History
Leather jackets and leather clothing as well as leather boots have been a while for quite some time and have been used for multiple applications throughout the years. The black leather bomber jacket is the icon trend setter and has been around since WWII. After the wall the leather jacket became fashionable via pop culture in the 1950s and 1960s.
Marlon Brando’s Perfecto jacket really set off the leather jacket craze that we still see today. The Perfecto jacket was actually developed in 1928 by the Schott family. The jacket was created out of necessity. Irving Schott was trying to ride a motorbike or bicycle with a rain jacket. The rain jacket would flap around and come undone and didn’t fit correctly. They weren’t snug where they needed to be snug and the sleeve length was incorrect. The old style jackets also used buttons, which was quickly replaced with zippers which tend to not open in the presence of strong winds. The Schott NYC company still makes these jackets today.
Safety and Function
So, why black leather jackets? Why zippers instead of buttons? Why double breasted? There’s a few good reasons for all of these things. It’s ultimately a matter of safety and function, and finally style.
Black leather jackets don’t show dirt or stains from oil, they are windproof and warm, and in terms of safety are more abrasive resistant. It is similar to having a second set of skin on in the event that you go down on your motorcycle.
Throughout the years leather jackets have become synonymous with Harley Davidson Motorcycles and motorcycle riding in general. The leather jackets that are available today have armor pockets where you can literally slip a piece of hardened plastic in the jacket to protect you in the event of a crash and most of them have different forms of venting for changing climate conditions throughout a bike ride.
The wind proof feel of a leather jacket also keeps a bike rider less fatigued after a long ride. With traditional textiles they flap around quite a bit and you can feel every bit of wind hit your body on your ride. With a leather jacket it feels as if your entire body has a windshield around it keeping the force of the wind off of you. This wind proofing feature also means you’ll sweat more, but not to worry. Motorcycle leather jacket manufacturers have vents for this exact purpose.
With anything wearable a big part of public acceptance is the style of the garment. Leather can be as practicable, safe, or functional as anything else out there, but if people don’t buy into the look it won’t be something that will last. Since the early days of leather wear a few major styles have come out by designers. These styles offer different functions. We’ll break down some of the major ones here.
- Bomber Jackets / Aviator Jackets
Bomber jackets usually have a more relaxed fit and got it’s debut in the military. It was used by pilots and flight crew members to keep them warm at high altitudes. Some key traits of a bomber jacket include a ribbed hem and cuffs and sit waist length. Some of the more classic details include a large stand up collar and front pockets along with shoulder epaulets.
- Leather Moto/Racer Jackets
This style of jacket is of course inspired by the classic motorcycle jacket but is more lightweight and stylish rather than used for protective qualities. Usually made out a lightweight and softer leather these jackets tend to be more streamlined and meant to be worn casually. They typically have a small snap over a banded collar and front zip pockets and a front zipper.
- Leather Vests
Very common amongst “riders” spanning from horse back to motorcycle riding, the leather vest has been around for quite some time. It is a versatile garment that can be worn in the summer as well as the winter with warmer layers underneath. Leather vests, while not covering the arms, do keep undergarments from moving around in heavy winds and trap body heat central to the core of the torso where it is needed most. During the warmer months having your arms exposed keeps you cool while still keeping a bulk of the wind off of the torso. Fun fact, bikers wore leather jackets in the 80s and 90s as a display of rebellion.
- Leather Shirt Jackets
Shirt jackets are a perfect application for a lightweight garment meant to keep you warm without the necessity of a full size jacket. Shirt jackets have the same details as button down collared shirts in your closet, but instead cut from leather. These are perfect for layering up in the cold months or to wear underneath a vest during the cooler months.
-Protective Leather Motorcycle Jackets
For a full scale heavy duty riding jacket look no further than a proper motorcycle jacket from a reputable source such as Harley Davidson. Jackets that are made for the intention of riding a motorcycle often come with many features that help foster the best experience possible for the rider. Typically you’ll see vents and zippered fronts with zippered pockets along with headphone cable access points and pockets for specific items, such as cellphones. These jackets often come with liners for colder weather and spots for padding if you plan on doing some racing or a lot of hard riding.
Due to leather’s functionality other leather clothing options have since come out that utilize this material in an effort to keep riders safe on a ride. Leather gloves, leather boots, and leather pants and/or chaps can all be made out of leather to protect and enhance the experience of the rider while riding a motorcycle.
In addition to being more abrasive resistant and wind blocking, leather boots, leather chaps, and leather gloves are more heat resistant than other textiles so you won’t burn your leather pants or leather boots on your exhaust pipe. On a cold day a pair of leather pants or leather chaps to go over your denim pants will keep the warmth in and the cool wind out, while protecting your legs from the threat of a crash or a hot exhaust pipe.
If you are a motorcycle rider looking for some added protection or warmth on those long off season rides do yourself a favor and look at leather jackets and other leather goods. A local Harley Davidson Dealership near you should have multiple options and multiple styles of all the gear mentioned above. What’s good about trying on leather at a Harley Davidson Dealership is that once you have the gear on you can sit on a bike and make sure your posture allows you to be comfortable while wearing the leather jacket or leather pants of your choosing.
Be Safe and Have Fun!