Before the black leather jacket was reduced to another innocuous darling of the fashion world, it was an honored utility—a form of arthropod armor worn by the less-than-gentle men who roamed the fraying fringes of a disquieted society. The original BLJ silhouette, in fact, was donned by German fighter pilots in both World War I and World War II. Throughout the 1930s and ’40s, the U.S. military followed suit, as leather jackets became standard uniforms for both American troops and police officers. However, it would not be long before the citizenry and street urchins seized and subverted this talisman of authority.
Made for Misfits: The Colorful History of the Black Leather Jacket