Fashion Trend: Biker Jackets
Based on the recent heatwave we have been experiencing here in the UK, you may think me slightly insane to even contemplate broaching the subject of jackets and layers.
However, being well-versed in the subject of the British summertime, rest assured that the hot weather will not last. The annual promise of a phantom Indian summer aside, you’re probably going to be thankful for an extra layer come mid-August.
And this season’s silhouette of choice for the transitional summer to autumn period is the biker jacket.
The Biker Jacket
Biker jackets rose to prominence as a symbol of rebellious subculture following the Second World War and were glamorised by film stars such as Marlon Brando and James Dean in cult classics such as The Wild One and Rebel Without A Cause.
The jacket went on to epitomise the tough-guy image of a generation of bikers and greasers, and has remained embedded in modern fashion culture as a staple piece that continuously makes its mark, season after season.
On The Runways: SS13
The majority of the biker jackets featured at the global SS13 fashion weeks were largely traditional and didn’t stray too far from the timeless silhouette and signature cut.
Ralph Lauren, Dsquared2 and Calvin Klein were huge advocates of this traditionalist approach, featuring classic biker jackets in black and brown leather complete with stereotypical asymmetric zip fastening:
Key Show: Belstaff
One brand worth particular mention is Belstaff. Motorcycle racing is at the heart of the company’s heritage, so it is not surprising that the biker jacket continues to be a big hitter for the brand. Unsurprisingly, Belstaff featured several traditional versions in various colours – including black, brown and a beautifully soft charcoal grey.
Interestingly, Belstaff also threw a few curve balls into their showcase – taking the stereotypical biker jacket and updating it through choice of material, colour and cut.
For example, the collection featured a knitted, woollen biker jacket, which offered an interesting tactile approach to the trend. In addition, the brand included a yellow suede version with beige stripe detailing, and a slightly longer version in soft brown that played with the standard, cropped cut.
Nevertheless, the highlight of the Belstaff showcase was a soft grey biker with multi-zip detailing, epaulettes and belted waist, which came in a slim, tailored cut – it’s a style that retains the underlying ethos of rebellion, but applies it in a sophisticated manner:
Modernising The Style
Other brands explored modern twists on the biker jacket trend in different ways. Directional detailing was used by Ermenegildo Zegna, with subtle yet effective perforations all over the jacket, whilst John Richmond utilised cut-out detailing to update the styles in his collection.
Similarly, external detailing was applied to the shoulders and sleeves of biker jackets by other designers in order to make them stand out from the crowd. Balmain emphasised shoulders and sleeves with ribbed stitching, John Richmond applied fish scale clipping to the sleeves and Diesel Black Gold included embroidered leather detail on the sleeves:
An easy way to separate your biker jacket from the crowd is to utilise colour, and several designer collections chose to go down this route.
Philip Lim 3.1 opted for white, Elie Tahari went for soft grey, Belstaff included a khaki green version and Iceberg pushed on trend navy blue. Meanwhile, Kenzo and Paul Smith offered an even bolder take on the trend by featuring biker jackets in bold, bright hues of yellow and orange, respectively:
The Fashion Press
Looking to the fashion press, it is clear that the biker jacket has been a prominent, running theme since SS12.
In March 2012, Esquire magazine ran a feature on SS12 jackets which saw British actor Alfie Allen sporting a blue leather biker jacket by Emporio Armani. Fast-forward to September and the magazine published an AW12 feature with Aaron Taylor-Johnson wearing a Hermes biker jacket in soft yet durable wool.
Similarly, Shortlist magazine has labelled the biker jacket as a must-own for SS13 and has recently published an article that uses the 1970s film Easy Rider as a source of inspiration. The article in question incorporated various designer pieces, including a traditional leather jacket by R13, a brown leather/suede biker jacket with shearling lining by Roberto Cavalli, and a brown leather biker jacket by Schott.
Shortlist went on to report that Yves Saint Laurent featured biker jackets in thicker, warmer fabrics for AW13, whilst the magazine also featured the biker silhouette in a preview piece for SS14 – proving that the style is here to stay for the foreseeable future.
Turning our attention to the biker jackets currently available on the market, it seems there is something for everyone. For those feeling a little flush, or looking for a true signature/investment piece, Mr Porter has a wide range of designer versions – from Schott’s traditional James Dean-esque black leather biker jacket to a cream leather version with front zip detailing by Maison Martin Margiela.
Similarly, Matches is stocking a burgundy leather jacket by McQ by Alexander McQueen and a cotton, leather and tweed panelled biker jacket in black, grey and white by Balenciaga.
For those with tighter budget constraints, several high street retailers are offering more cost-effective styles. Topman in particular have a plethora of leather and leather-look biker jackets to choose from, whilst ASOS’ in house line continues to produce affordable options each and every season:
It seems you cannot go wrong with a biker silhouette for the transitional period between summer and autumn this year.
The biker jacket is such a classic and versatile style that it will always remain a constant within the industry, yet its flame only looks set to burn brighter in seasons to come – cementing its status as a true investment piece.
But, as always, we want to hear your thoughts: is the biker jacket a piece that you already champion? Or is it a key silhouette that you will be looking to purchase in the months to come? Will you opt for timeless leather or something more contemporary?