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The History and Style of the Leather Motorcycle Biker Jacket

The History of the Leather Motorcycle Jacket

When people think about the leather motorcycle jacket, the picture that enters their mind is the burly biker roaming the country by tearing down the interstate on his Harley Davidson. While many years ago, that picture may not have been far from the truth, times have definitely changed. Bikers still swear by their leather jackets and wear them for style and extra protection, but more people have noticed the cut and fit of this popular style to adopt it into everyday life.

Motorcycle enthusiasts have loved leather jackets since the first one appeared on the scene in the 1920s. These jackets provide extra protection to riders should something happen on the road, along with setting them apart for the everyday Joe. The jacket style caught on quickly, and soon, motorcyclists were seen wearing these.

Companies started manufacturing them on a larger scale in the 1930s and 1940s. Schott, Indian, and Harley Davidson all saw the need and want for these amazing jackets and also started designing and selling them in their stores. With style names like Cycle Champ, Cycle Queen, Ranger, and Rangerette, motorcyclists took notice of the leather motorcycle jacket and its usefulness. As a result, sales continued to rise, and the motorcycle jacket earned its place in fashion history.

What we now consider vintage or antique leather motorcycle jackets were originally made from more than just cow leather. In the 1940s, it was not uncommon to find these jackets made of horse leather in addition to cow skin. One of the most popular leather motorcycle designs, the Perfecto, was made out of horse skin leather when it first appeared on the market in the late 1940s.

Leather Jacket Styling and Fit

Whether it is your first ever leather jacket or you have owned one before, one of the most important things next to the style you pick is the fit that you get. Sizes have changed over the years. What is now a size 6 in women's was originally a size 14 in the 1970s. So to get a perfect fit, there are a few things you need to know and do.

Every manufacturer will have a size chart available for you to look at to ensure you are getting the right size. You will want to take these measurements on your body with the assistance of another person to make sure the measurements are correct:

  • Chest measurement: If you like your jackets tighter, take the measurement when you exhaled and relaxed. If you like a looser fit, take a deep breath when this measurement is taken. You will want to measure the widest part of your rib cage.
  • Sleeve measurement: This measurement is from where the shoulder meets the arm on the TOP side to where you want the cuff to end at your wrist.
  • Waist: This measurement is your natural waistline, where the top of your jeans fits on men, and for women, it is where your waist curves inward.

Taking these measurements and then comparing them to the manufacturer's sizing chart should give you the exact fit that you want in your leather motorcycle jacket.

The Leather Motorcycle Jacket and What it Says Today

In today's world, the leather motorcycle jacket is a popular cut for anyone looking to purchase a jacket. This jacket says that you are eternally stylish, that trends are great, but you like things that don’t go out of style. This jacket style sets the wearer apart from those that wear the other, trendier styles of jackets.

It's no secret that these jackets have an allure to them. Most people find a leather jacket to have a bit of mystery and intrigue about the person wearing it. Not everyone can pull this style of jacket off, but if you are daring, free-spirited, and fashion savvy, then it just might be right for you.

The Most Famous Leather Motorcycle Jacket in the World

Arguably, the most famous leather motorcycle jacket in history was the Schott NYC Perfecto 618. This jacket set off the leather motorcycle craze in the middle of 1950 when Marlon Brando wore it in the 1953 movie The Wild One.

This film is about a bad boy biker gang leader named Johnny Strabler, who Brando plays. Johnny rides into a California town to participate in a motorcycle race, and one of his gang members ends up stealing the second place trophy. They create quite a bit of trouble while they are there before being ordered out of town by local law enforcement.

Brando's Perfecto leather jacket has been lost somewhere. No one seems to know if it still exists or if it is hidden away somewhere to hopefully be found at a later date. If it ever surfaced and could be authenticated, it would be a vintage motorcycle jacket collector's dream to own it.

What do you think of these jackets? Do you own one?

giogio on June 07, 2017:

Nowadays leather jackets are mostly used for style and while racing.

The ideal motorcycle jacket material is textile.

They are versatile and lightweight.

I am looking to get a touring one. I have seen Siima Sibirsky Super adventure and Revit Sand 2.

Any help will be appriciated.


Liam Leather from Europe on May 15, 2017:

I love leather, especially jackets and pants. Great jon on your hub, keep writing about leather!

liamhubpages on January 04, 2015:

I just adore leather jackets, especially biker ones, I find them super sexy!