NOTES ON THE HISTORY OF THE MOTORCYCLE JACKET
Early jackets used for motorcycle riding from 1920-30 were aviator/military style jackets with a button front closure, and short mandarin style collar. Brown goatskin styles were very popular with short styling, fitted waist. Many of these emulated the A-1 jacket used by the Army Air Corp prior to WWII. Also used were button front coat styles constructed of thick horsehide. The hides were abundantly available prior to WWII because the Army Calvary and most farmers used horses and provided hides from their stock to the clothing industry.
The initial development of the motorcycle jacket began with companies like Schott who opened in 1913, and began producing motorcycle jackets during the 1920’s. In Detroit, The Joseph Buegeleisen Co. started business in 1933 providing motorcycle accessories & saddlebags, and began producing motorcycle jackets in the 1940’s. Other early jacket makers/retailers include Indian Motorcycles with only one model jacket, the “Ranger” for men, and the “Rangerette” for women. The woman’s model had the pocket and zipper opposite of the man’s model. Both jackets were produced during the 1940’s until the bankruptcy of the company in 1953.
Harley Davidson has also fielded quality leathers since the early days, starting business in 1910. The 1940’s “Cycle Champ” for men, and the “Cycle Queen” for the ladies were the epitome of the style and function during the 1940’s. The “Pistol Pocket” holster shaped design on Harley Davidson jackets was also used by such makers as: Buco, Hercules, Beck, and a number of others. This was a popular 1940’s design element that carried over into the 1960’s with the Sears Oakbrook model. Another old style design incorporates a storage pocket in the back accessed by a zippered opening on the left side, not unlike the pockets on many hunting jackets. This style was used by companies such as: Buco, Blatt, and Grais. These design elements required more man hours to produce. As a result they fell victim to the need to cut corners and streamline the process. All of this maneuvering was in order to compete with products being imported and sold for mass consumption by non motorcyclists of the early rock & roll period.
An additional factor in the design of the motorcycle jacket was the Seminal influence on fashion provided by Marlon Brando in “The Wild Ones” in which his double breasted “one star” Schott jacket became the norm. Many jacket manufacturers followed suit, and added another star to the epaulet, though not necessarily a quality improvement over Schott’s original.
*Note: Individuals ultimately decide prices during a transaction. Our price guide is an approximation of prices possible for #1 quality, condition, and desirable size.