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The history of Leather Jackets

Date: 2012-02-07

The history of Leather Jackets

A leather jacket is a jacket made of leather. The jacket usually has a brown, dark grey or black color. Leather jackets have a rich history and can be styled in countless ways, different leather jackets have served different purposes from fashion, to motorcycling, to the military

The history of wearing animal hides can be traced back as far as the palaeothic period where cave paintings were discovered depicting the use of leather clothing, unlike the modern approach primitive man discovered that smoke could preserve skins, and that they could be treated with natural ingredients such as barks and plants.


Wall paintings and artefacts in Egyptian tombs indicate that leather was used for clothing, burying the dead and for military equipment. The ancient Greeks and Romans also made good use of leather and it has remained an important industrial raw material since those times.


The Romans used leather on a large scale for footwear, clothes, and military equipment including shields, saddles and harnesses. Excavation of Roman sites has yielded large quantities of leather articles such as footwear and clothing.


Leather manufacturing was introduced to Britain by the Romans, and by religious communities, the monks were experts at making leather, especially vellum and parchment for writing purposes. The Britons then used leather for footwear, clothing and leather bags. They were also used on the hulls of the early boats, known as coracles


Through the centuries leather manufacture expanded steadily and by mediaeval times most towns and villages had a tannery. Many of these tanneries still exist, but in many towns the only remaining evidence is in street names, like Tanner Street, Bark Street and Leather Lane.


In the 20th century the leather jacket achieved iconic status especially in the cinema. The most obvious has to be Marlon Brando's Johnny Strabler character in The Wild One (1953),as a result these all masiveley popularised leather jackets through out American and British youth. The leather jacket appeared in everyones wardrobe from the "greaser" subculture in the 1950s and early 1960s, an example of this is The Fonz's iconic leather jacket from Happy days. The Fonz's leather jacket has now been layed to rest in the Smithsonian Institution,

Leather jackets were also worn in aviation and the military they were often reffered to as "Bomber jackets" and were also seen on many stars in the 1940s and 1950s examples include Jimmy Stewart in the 1957 film, Night Passage. The brown leather jacket has been a de rigueur part of the wardrobe of a Hollywood adventurer,

There are many more examples of iconic leather jackets worn in popular culture towards the end of the 20th century from the T-800 Character in the Terminator movies, to the longer ¾ length trench coat style worn by action heroes such as Steven Seagal and then again in The Matrix as worn by Keanu Reeves and Laurence Fishburne.

Brad Pitt gave the world a fresh spin on the leather jacket in the movie Fight Club, whereTyler Durden constantly appears with different variations of his red leather jacket.

Leather jackets have always been popular in music. Punk rock groups such as the Ramones and the Libertines were both seen wearing several styles.

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