Few items of menswear come packaged with as much attitude, heritage or unfiltered masculinity as a leather jacket. Synonymous with punks and pilots, motorcycles and Marlon Brando, the leather jacket is high-testosterone menswear, but it’s also a surprisingly versatile classic. In short, no well-edited wardrobe is complete without one.
Men have been wearing hides and skins since our knuckles stopped skimming the floor, but the leather jacket as we know it today came to prominence in the early 1900s. Brown leather flight jackets were worn by the early aviators and the military, most notably the German Air Force in World War I. Check out Vintage leather Jackets here
The first contemporary-looking style arrived in 1928. A Manhattan raincoat maker, Irving Schott, designed a motorcycle jacket for Harley Davidson. Dubbed the ‘Perfecto’, after his favourite cigar, this leather jacket was built to protect riders from the elements and accidents. During World War II the flight jacket became known as the bomber, and was prized for its warmth having been designed for wear in open cockpits. Bomber leather Jackets
Between then and now, leather jackets have appeared everywhere from in cult flick The Wild One to on the backs of the Sex Pistols. It’s standard-issue for mavericks, scoundrels and sex symbols.
Today, the garment is likely to be one of the most expensive additions to a wardrobe, so don’t be a rebel without a clue – make a shrewd purchase. If for no other reason, a good leather jacket is one of the few long-term relationships you’ll have in fashion. They’re built to last, age as you do and pair with more items than you might expect. If you don’t consider Danny Zuko a style icon, that’s fine – there are other ways to wear it.
How Much Should I Pay For A Leather Jacket?
There are as many price points as there are jackets. Generally, you get what you pay for, but while in some cases you pay for the name, the price usually comes down to the quality and type of leather used. Anything less than &250 is made of lower grade leather quality. So try to avoid this mistake and don’t go for cheap as you wont get the feel of a real leather jacket. Choice is yours!
“A good quality leather garment is often supple and soapy to the touch,”.
For the very best quality (and steepest prices) you’ll need to look for ‘full grain’ leather jackets. These use the best quality hides and, due to its thickness, are rather stiff at first. They will take some breaking in, just like a good pair of Derby shoes, but you’ll be rewarded with a natural patina and a jacket that is unique to you.
If your budget is limited, ‘top grain’ leathers are more affordable. These have had the natural grain sanded off and been stamped to give the leather an even look.
When weighing up a jacket, don’t stop at the leather itself, says Clarke. “Check for the quality of zips and buttons. Zips should run very smoothly and freely.