Leather jackets are jackets made of leather, but they are also more than that. Leather jackets have been a significant part of American and British pop culture for decades.
Depending on their make, purpose, and placement in time, leather jackets have had a variety of styles. The most familiar subculture associated with the leather jacket is that of the ducktails of the 1950s and early 1960s, such as depicted in the movies The Lords of Flatbush and Grease, as well as by “The Fonz” in Happy Days, aired during the early 1970s. These leather jackets, made light and intended for casual wear, were used to convey an image of “toughness” or “coolness” as well to serve as a badge of independence and/or brotherhood among buddies.
Another subculture featuring the leather jacket was that of the bombardiers in the 1940s and early 1950s, but the style was distinctively different, as seen by the sheepskin collar to protect the neck. As a matter of fact, “bomber jackets” were typically interlined all the way through with sheepskin. This kept its wearer warm as well. The leather jackets worn by the police—yet another subculture identified with leather jackets—are also protective, but these are made thicker and heavier with a design to facilitate safety equipment and armor wherever needed, as well as to bring across an intimidating image.
The leather jacket isn’t as popular today as it once had been, but it has left a lasting iconic mark on western civilization with an influence so powerful that the leather jacket holds meaning identified with its earlier symbolism, along with new meaning brought about by changing states-of-mind, such as importance of freedom and a sense of worldliness.
Ultimately, the leather jacket promotes a style that will never lose taste regardless of the changing tides. If anything, the leather jacket will continue to influence the direction in which those tides flow.