If you’ve ever caught yourself admiring a leather motorcycle jacket, you’ll love these photos. These were taken from Rin Tanaka’s book Motorcycle Jackets: A Century of Leather Design. Tuesday had a post about the “Pre-Dawn” and “Sport Jacket” eras. Today’s is about “The Golden Age” of motorcycle jacket design.
The Golden Age is short - starting just after the war in 1945 and ending in the mid-1950s. Jackets in this period were characterized by a “W” collar, bi-swing or full-swing back, and a kidney panel “action back” with belt loops. Details that we only saw glimpses of in the Pre-Dawn and Sport Jacket eras became staples in this period. The fronts were always closed with zippers (usually Talon or Conmar, although Crown’s were the best). Sleeves were also zippered, epaulets were usually present (some decorated with spot work), and holster-shaped double pockets on the front were a common feature. And where most leather jackets before were brown, we see the emergence of the black leather jacket in The Golden Age. This is essentially the period that defined what we think of as the “quintessential motorcycle jacket”- a kind of design that was immortalized by Marlon Brando’s performance in The Wild One.