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The History of Leather Jackets

Leather jackets started out as military wear. During World War I, German fighter pilots wore brown leather jackets to keep warm (they later became known as “bomber jackets” during World War II). In 1928, the leather jacket was introduced as a fashion item by Irvin Schott – his design, which he named “The Perfecto” after his favorite cigar, was quite similar to the modern motorcycle jacket and notably featured a zipper instead of a button closure. However, leather jackets didn't become popular among civilians until the 1950s, when Hollywood stars began wearing them onscreen. Marlon Brando wore a leather jacket in his film, The Wild One, which started a trend and began the leather jacket’s long association with rebelliousness and danger. Stars like James Dean and Steve McQueen further solidified the leather jacket's bad-boy appeal, while musical groups like The Beatles and The Rolling Stones established the leather jacket’s strong association with rock 'n roll. In the 1970s and 1980s, additional styles came on the market as female musicians like Joan Jett and Blondie made leather jackets popular among women. Later, models like Kate Moss began to wear leather jackets when off-duty, which helped give them mainstream appeal and solidify their place as a staple in women’s street-style fashion. Today, leather jackets continue to be extremely popular and are available in a wide variety of styles; there are even vegan alternatives available!

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