Some things in the world go around so well together that they become almost unanimous. There is a good reason why in such satiations we say that they go so well together like bread and butter. Everyone knows bread meshes well with so many things, but first and foremost it has to have some quality butter on it. The same concept is used in so many other situations and it is a fun language thing that helps us learn about the world. Gin and tonic, coffee and cream, knife and fork, wine and cheese, needle and thread, nuts and bolts, bikers and leather jackets… Well, that last one is not really on the same level but it can be if we consider how closely related they actually are.
This is the topic of our article today if it was not clear by now. When we imagine a biker, he or she has to wear a leather jacket, or else they are not a real biker. It goes without saying and there is no question about it. Leather gear in general has become an integral part of a biker’s wardrobe, not just jackets. Vests, gloves, and pants are also leather. However, it is the jacket that is the most important piece, and right here and now we are going to talk about why exactly that is. Why do bikers really wear leather jackets? Keep reading to learn more and be sure to click here to browse some amazing leather jackets.
In order to talk about the relationship between leather jackets and motorbikes, we need to go back all the way to WWII when motorcycles truly started to take shape. Back then, troops on motorbikes and special units who specialized in two-wheelers of the time wore either bomber jackets or leather overcoats. After the war, the fashion trend remained and during the 1950s and 1960s, they became very popular with anyone who was a fan of riding motorcycles. Movie stars of the time like Marlon Brando also popularized the jacket. When he appeared in The Wild One in a double-breasted black leather jacket, there was no going back. The was the newest symbol of rebellion, riding a red motorcycle and wearing a Perfecto jacket. The movie was an instant hit, not a cult classic, and every subsequent movie of that type brought on more popularity for the jacket. The sales went down however because schools banned them all over the country due to their ties with rebellion and roughness among the youth.
This was the golden age of the bilker leather jacket that made the style popular for decades after, but not really the first time riding a motorcycle and wearing a leather jacket were used together. For that, we go even further back to the 1920s. Zippers were not really a standard on jackets, at least not until 1925 when Irving Schott and his brother popularized it. In addition, they had another problem.
Coats of the time were not really suited for motorcycle riding at all, while the jackets lacked the right fight. They would remain open in windy situations while riding, making the motorcyclist cold and uncomfortable. This is where the zipper came in quite handy. Finally, in 1928, Schott and his brother combined diagonal zippers with tight leather jackets and the Perfecto was born. The original Schott company in New York City still makes them to this day.
But Why Dark Leather?
This still does not explain why leather is the material bikers wear. Other fabrics work with diagonal zippers too. They did back then and now. In reality, it has to do with safety and with practicality. First of all, darker colors like black or dark brown do not show any dirt or oil and the stains are not really noticeable. Perhaps the most important feature of the leather is that it is windproof, a crucial feature of any biker clothing due to the constant oncoming winds. When it comes to the inside, leather works well with any other warmer fabric. On its own, it is quite cold and rugged, but if you line it with fur or something else soft, the potential for warmth and protection from the wind and cold is not matched.
Compared to other popular materials at the time, especially denim, leather is better at resisting physical damage like abrasion. If the biker falls over and slides across hard surfaces, their skin is protected much better if they wear leather. These are all very practical features that combine to make the leather jacket a must-have item for anyone who owns a motorcycle. They do not have to be a true biker who lives on the road. On the contrary, they can be occasional rider who enjoys laidback riding too.
Over the many decades since the 1920s-1950s, the fashion and style changed and so did the motorcycles. However, the leather jacket is one of those iconic pieces that will not and cannot go out of fashion, ever. They are a great investment due to their durability, ruggedness, and the fact that you can wear them anywhere even without a bike. Leather also has a very unique feature. The longer you have it and the more wear and tear it goes through, then it looks better. Time and wearing give it character and it is much comfier and cooler to wear a jacket with creases, patches, and history than a brand new one. All of these things have become a part of each other and the collective consciousness of modern people has the leather jacket as an essential piece of the wardrobe.
In the 21st century, bikers have so many new models to choose from, from those with special pockets for armor to protect during falls and mesh venting for summer rides, to special fits for the ladies, children, and larger sizes. Black is no longer the only option either as there are so many other colorful ones to choose from. The only downside of leather is that it is not waterproof and rarely do bikers ride in rain conditions. Even if they do, special rain overcoats are used over the jacket. All in all, bikers and leather jackets go together for a very good reason, one that comes out of tradition, style, and practicality.