Challenge 0: The (P)Leather Jacket

by baltringer

The leather jacket has its origin in the military, first worn by German fighter pilots in WWI for protection and warmth. This style is also known as a bomber jacket and is more heavy duty. WWII also saw members of the US Army wearing this style of leather jackets.

In 1928, Irving Schott designed the “Perfecto” jacket, which was shorter and had a zipper instead of buttons. This leather jacket was sold through a deal with Harley Davidson dealerships, and this style is now known as a motorcycle or biker jacket. This style was popularized in the 1940s and ‘50s by Hollywood; movies like The Wild One had leading men, who were often charming and rebellious, donning Schott’s jackets. This led to the jacket’s perception as a symbol of the “bad boy,” which was reinforced in the 1970s and ‘80s as rock and punk bands, like the Ramones and the Sex Pistols, began to wear leather jackets as part of their look. Later, fashion designers like Vivienne Westwood and Yves Saint Laurent turned the leather jacket trendy and made leather a popular fashion material. Now, the leather jacket is a mainstream and classic fashion item, and you see leather jackets in various shapes and colors, for both men and women. (Harley Davidson didn’t make a women’s leather jacket until it released the “Ladies Companion Jacket,” now better known as the “Cycle Queen” jacket, until 1954.)

The jacket I have is from Forever 21, and it has the same shape as the classic Perfecto jacket. The triangular lapels can be worn open or folded over and zipped all the way up. It’s black, which became a more popular color than brown jackets in the 1950s. It has different pockets than the Perfecto, and lacks a belt around the waist and tabs on the shoulders.

My jacket is also not made from real leather, but “pleather,” a material that was improved and made usable in clothing by DuPont in the 1960s. Most pleather used in clothing is polyurethane, which is made by coating fabric with a polymer-based substance and then treating it to look like real leather. Pleather has become more common in clothing as it is cheaper, easier to work with, and more readily available than leather. It is also perceived by some as more ethical, as it doesn’t require the death of any animals.

Overall, this jacket reflects both the classic style of early leather jackets and the modern changes in material choice and slight variations in design.

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