KING OF COOL

FASHION XY

 

How did the leather jacket, once a uniform for the bad-boys, go from niche to mainstream? Why is the fashion world so much in love with it?

It&rsquos been more than 60 years since 1953 hit &lsquoThe Wild One&rsquo where Marlon Brando played rebel biker with his leather jacket on, but the unofficial uniform of the cool or the rebel or the chic &ndash or whatever &ndash is still magical.

Once it was work-wear for World War I bomber squadrons, then it became the signature piece of the motorcycle gangs after the World War II. We can say that leather jacket was popularized by film industry mostly. Glorious and heart breaker rock 'n' roll music made the leather jacket look like somehow appropriate.

&lsquoGrease&rsquowore it, punks wore it, skin heads and Black Panthers wore it&hellip The most important black leather in history still remains at the heart of social and sexual rebellion.

The subcultural piece &lsquoleather jacket&rsquo was always a visual code for the rebel. It was treated as the cultural subversion of drugs, sex, bikers and dirty rock 'n' roll. But what people missed was that the leather jacket wearers were always the most sensitive and emotional ones. They wanted to look &lsquotough&rsquo on the outside. In the past it was the symbol of the masculine, the Macho. But now it frames the androgynous with a feminine touch.

Now in 2014 the item is the best friend of the &lsquohigh fashion-forward&rsquo people and the fashion industry is betting big on the biker jacket. It has come a long way from its rebel origins. Now it serves the fashion gangs crème de la crème. With four-figure price tags, you can own Balenciaga and Saint Laurent by Hedi Slimane versions of it. If you&rsquore &lsquotoo cool for school&rsquo you can try Acne. Or else vintage and thrift shops are always an option.

It goes with everything from jeans to cocktail dresses. You even wear them over your lingerie. You can wear it to a concert or a gala. The fashion industry insists the motorcycle jacket or the leather jacket is the item every woman must have in her closet.

So what is the deal exactly? Why is the fashion world so much in love with the rebel more than ever now? The jacket's journey from niche to mainstream is actually a well thought maneuver. By reinterpreting the classic design, the industries aim is not to leave a shopper behind. This magical item is perfect for this aim, because you can wear it with anything. The exhibition titled &lsquoBeyond Rebellion: Fashioning the Biker Jacket&rsquo (March 4 - April 5 2014) the Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology, was a booster for the burning trend. The exhibition, organized by Fashion and Textile Studies graduate students, explored the genesis of the biker jacket and &lsquoits evolution into a high-fashion garment&rsquo.

Once a uniform for the bad-boys, the biker jackets first big fashion moment was in 1960. The head designer of Christian Dior at that time, made one with crocodile skin for his couture collection. After that &lsquocouture shock&rsquo the jacket was adopted by the punk movement during the 1970s and 1980s. And who was the designer? Monsieur Yves Saint Laurent. And 1960 was the year that he got fired&hellip

But when did exactly the story of the rebel born? It was in 1928 when Irving Schott and his brother Jack started making jackets using leather. They designed an elite collection of motorcycle jackets and named them Perfecto. What made it special was the asymmetrical zipped feature, its zipped cuffs, epaulettes and the belted front.

The &lsquolittle black dress&rsquo of men&rsquos fashion was always there weather it was on Jean-Michel Basquiat with a painted &lsquocrown&rsquo on its back or on the Ramones guys or on the fellow punk bands at East Village&hellip The legend remains. Rick Owens&rsquo words speak on the behalf of all the leather/biker/motorcycle jacket lovers, &ldquoI think if we are honest with ourselves, the allure of black leather is subliminally related to sex and death. Or, for the squeamish, danger and excitement...&rdquo

by Sila Güven