The Rise Of The Leather Jacket Came From This Decades-Old Film Reference

They’re effortlessly cool.

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Similar to the classic trench coat, the leather jacket is such an enduring outerwear style. Ahead, read up on the evolution of leather jackets, which quickly evolved from utilitarian to an aesthetic reflection of the times.

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Early 1900s

In 1928, Irving Schott made the first leather moto jacket. It retailed for $5.50 at a Long Island Harley Davidson distributor. Before that, leather jackets were limited to the aviation style, which only began to phase out of fashion at the onset of World War II.Keystone-France/Gamma-Keystone via Getty Images


In The Wild One, actor Marlon Brando wore an Irvin Schott leather jacket to embody a gang member. Such captivating characters in films often became objects of inspiration for the youth of the time, which is perhaps why you may recognize it as today’s classic moto jacket.United Archives/Hulton Archive/Getty Images


While the movie was filmed in the late ’70s, John Travolta spotlighted the ’50s with Grease. While it was perhaps natural for he and the T-Birds to wear motos as their uniform, Olivia Newton-John’s character, Sandy, was bold for trading her dainty, pinky lady topper for a tough leather one.TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images


The leather jacket began to morph into new styles, including thin zip-ups and long button-downs, as worn by The Beatles in their early years.Mark and Colleen Hayward/Hulton Archive/Getty Images


For a London press conference in 1978, Newton-John wore a slick, black leather trench coat — a signal of how the leather jacket evolved and expanded its range.Keystone/Hulton Archive/Getty Images


This decade saw the cyclical resurgence of the simple, zip-up bomber jacket (inspired by the pre-war aviation jackets but sans shearling). In general, however, it welcomed a mélange of styles, including the embellished moto jacket à la Madonna and Joan Jett.Keith Hamshere/Moviepix/Getty Images


In the golden age of fashion, supermodels and other style stars channeled a pared-back aesthetic that focused on plain separates and a simple, blazer-like leather jacket.Rose Hartman/Archive Photos/Getty Images


Makers began to experiment with more than just studs and patches on the classic moto to make it more tricksy than tough. They made wrap coats, military-style jackets, and racer jackets and adorned them with ombré effects, ribbon waistbands, and even fur.Jun Sato/WireImage/Getty Images


Here, designers weren’t afraid to pile on the details, as seen from Olivia Palermo’s mixed metal moto jacket.Marc Piasecki/GC Images/Getty Images


What goes around, comes around. In this case, minimalist styles are back but so too are the original grunge styles according to the runways of Alexander McQueen, Prada, and Simone Rocha.@olivialopez

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