The Evolution of Leather Jackets

From military uniforms to iconic, cultural pieces of fashion, the evolution of leather jackets quickly expanded over the last century.

Military Origins

Originating in the early 1900s, leather jackets were first used as uniforms, worn by German fighter pilots during the first World War. Back then, they were known as “flighter jackets” or “aviation jackets”. 

During World War 2, brown leather jackets were commonly known as “bomber jackets”.


Evolving from representation of war to a fashionable garment, leather jackets appeared as a symbol of style in 1928. 

A famous designer amped the original leather jacket. He created a chic zipper in the front for closure, replacing the buttons, and gave a fresh, fashion-forward perspective to the leather jacket. 

Initially designed for the premium motorcycle manufacturer company, Harley Davidson, the ‘Perfecto’ was developed for motorcyclists. These black leather jackets were created for style and utility.

The original prototype had three pockets with zippers and one that snapped. The idea for placing the pockets on the sides and chest was for motorcyclists’ convenience as they cruised on the road.

The ‘Perfecto’ gained popularity and was adopted by many to represent their culture.


Through television and the media, leather jackets today symbolize a number subcultures and those subcultures identify themselves through these iconic pieces of clothing.


If you own a Harley, chances are you own a leather jacket. In fact, the “Perfecto”, the first zippered leather jacket, was created for Harley Davidson. 

This item of clothing is both fashionable and functional. Motorcyclists wear this garment to protect them from the harsh whippings from the wind.


The leather jacket is one of the most iconic articles of clothing that represent the rock and roll culture.

Although black leather jackets are famously known in the rock n’ roll and punk eras of the 70’s and 80’s, the first origins of the leather jacket in music occurred in the 1950’s. 

Chuck Berrybegan wore a black leather jacket when rock and roll became one of the most domineering genres of music at that time. Since then, other musicians created their own style revolving around this infamous piece of clothing.

The Beatles, Blondie, Duran Duran, Joan Jett, and The Ramones are just a few of the bands and musicians who have this leather garment in their wardrobe.


Leather jackets first made there debut on the big screen in 1953 by Marlon Brando. Then, James Dean adopted the leather jacket and created his own style as he starred in Rebel Without A Cause.