The History of Leather Jackets

Here at Camokazi, we have a range of leather jackets and each one has a rich and interesting history. We’ve looked at the history of the leather jackets we sell, so you can see where your favourite style comes from when it was first introduced and what influenced it. 

History of Bomber Jackets

The history of bomber jackets goes back to the US military in 1949 when the MA-1 jacket was produced. These jackets were lightweight so could be worn in warmer climates and also featured the bright orange lining that is now often a staple piece in many bomber jackets. The reason for this lining was so that pilots in the war could turn the jackets inside out in event of the plane crashing to allow rescue teams to find them easily, this is now just a design piece found in many jackets. 

Our stock at Camokazi plays homage to the history of bomber jackets by refraining classic features yet delivering a stylish and timeless design. 

Leather Flight Jacket History

The history of leather flight jackets goes back to 1917 with the US army. Although these jackets are now seen as everyday attire, they were once dedicated to pilots, first in WW1. The first leather flying jackets were heavy duty with fur collars, snug cuffs and waists and wind flaps, features which you still expect to see today. During WW2 flying jackets were also created out of sheepskin for extra warmth, the warmth was important as cockpits in the planes were uninsulated. 

Whilst the history of leather flight jackets goes back to 1917, their popularity among the general public didn’t take off until the 1970s and 1990s when they became popular with scooterboys and skinheads. 

What’s more, here at Camokazi we stock Vulcan leather flight jackets which are actually named after an RAF bomber plane that flew from 1956 to 1984. Shop our leather flight jackets, all of which have traditional styling, fur trim collars and come in a choice of attractive colours. 

Leather Biker Jacket History

Leather biker jackets history dates back to Manhatten in 1928 when Irving Schott, a raincoat designer by trade, designed the first one for Harley Davidson. It was inspired by the traditional flight jackets but quickly became popular among groups of bikers for its robust yet silhouette style with an off centre zip. Gangs of riders then began to embroider the jackets with their emblems as a ‘uniform’. By the 1950s leather biker jackets had made it into the music scene with popularity among artists such as James Dean. By 1953 biker jackets became popular among the general public thanks Marlon Brando wearing one in the film ‘The Wild One’. 

Our leather biker jackets all hold a traditional yet timeless style and deliver excellent quality, produced using the finest cowhide leather. 

Leather Racer Jackets History

Following straight on from biker jackets, the history of leather racer jackets is very similar. The racer jacket is simply an extension of the biker jacket, with the main differences being a more protective jacket, often with padding, a round collar and straight zip. The popularity first became for bikers when either racing or travelling distance for the practicality, but is now popular as a fashion statement and a staple piece for many outfits. 

At Camokazi we sell the Valiant racer jackets which display the traditional styling and are great paired with jeans and a white t-shirt. 

Varsity Jackets History

The varsity jacket has a slightly different history to that of our other jackets, rather than having roots back to the military, the varsity jackets owe thanks to the Harvard University baseball team back in 1865. Original varsity jackets were known as the letterman sweaters and were grey flannel pullovers with a large letter H in the centre and a star indicating the captain. 10 years later the football team at Harvard adapted the jackets to follow the same style but in a cardigan style so that the letter H shifted over to the left, however, these jackets didn’t look anything like the varsity jackets we expect to see today. It wasn’t until 1930 that the varsity jacket really took the traditional appearance we all expect to see with a wool body and leather sleeves. 

Our wool and leather varsity jackets at Camokazi are available in either black or maroon and display the same timeless style we’ve been seeing since 1930 in American sports.

We’ve carefully designed all our jackets to pay homage to the history of leather jackets, whether that be the military, top designers or Harvard University. What’s more, all leather jackets from Camokazi are produced using the finest leather so you have a quality jacket that you can wear season after season. 

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