Cafe Racer leather jacket

Cafe Racer leather jacket

 

Introduction. Cafe Racer leather jacket

Cafe Racer leather jacket

 

The Cafe Racer leather jacket could be defined as the leather jacket that began to be used with the Cafe Racer movement, wich was born in Great Britain in the aftermath of the Second World War and is characterized by a particular aesthetic of the bikes and those who rode them at that time.

Chaqueta moto Cafe Racer

Cafe Racers of the 60s | Cafe Racer leather jacket

The leather jacket, is one of the most iconic garments in the world of fashion that was born in the early twentieth century, a garment that accompanied the most important social movements in the history of the century, a symbol for those who broke with the stereotypes of the time.

Companion of the first motorcyclists and heroes of aviation, symbol of virility for tough bikers and a powerful erotic armor for fetishists.

The aviator jacket, the black biker jacket, the fringed jacket, all in its own way tell important events in the history of the world and in fashion, wars, the sexual revolution, movies, the explosion of rock and roll and the birth of youth as a social group to be taken into account.

Companion of the first motorcyclists and heroes of aviation, symbol of virility for tough bikers and a powerful erotic armor for fetishists.

 

The motorcycle in Great Britain

Cafe Racer leather jacket

 

Motorcycles were born in the early twentieth century and its beginnings were as with the car a vehicle basically utilitarian and transport, began replacing horses and the voracious restlessness of man was also transformed into a vehicle for leisure and sport. This constant evolution quickly develops true fast vehicles that have fans in all parts of the world.

Chaqueta moto Cafe Racer

Lawrence of Arabia riding his Brought Superior | Cafe Racer leather jacket

Although it was not the country where the motorcycle was created, Great Britain was a key country in its development, not only because of the technological advances achieved in the early days, but also because the brands created in those years in the United Kingdom reached great popularity levels, consequence of its technical characteristics and the beauty of its designs.

One of the mythical British characters that helped his popularity at the beginning of the 20th century was T.E Lawrence “Lawrence of Arabia” who enjoyed his Brough Superior, a prodigy of beauty, mechanics and performance.

In those years, also in the United Kingdom, the splendor of one of the most famous races of the world is experienced, the TT of the Isle of Man, a competition developed on unpaved roads and very hard for the pilots, since They spent many hours riding the bike in extreme conditions.

The difference between motorcycle and car enthusiasts was beginning to be felt, the former beginning to see themselves as more adventurous and outsiders on the road dressed in their first leather jackets.

Chaqueta moto Cafe Racer

TT Isle of Man competition |  Cafe Racer leather jacket

Great Britain contributes great part of the brands of those years, AJS, AMC, VINCENT, VELOCETTE, ARIEL, CALTHORPE, DOUGLAS, COTTON, EXCELSIOR, SCOTT, VILLIERS and we could name some 10 additional brands to these. Of the most emblematic we could mention:

BSA (Birmingham small arms), MATCHLESS, NORTON and TRIUMPH.

At the end of the 50s, the company continues its evolution and the motorbike market also, a new fashion arrives in Great Britain, the Italian scooters, economic and easy driving vehicles that young British like very much.

The difference between motorcycle and car enthusiasts was beginning to be felt, the former beginning to see themselves as more adventurous and outsiders on the road dressed in their first leather jackets.

With this untimely interruption in the market of new vehicles begins the decline of classic brands and motorcycles in the United Kingdom. The arrival a little later of the Japanese motorcycles gives the definitive blow to the industry.

Virtually all of the British motorcycle brands disappear.

 

Leather jackets. Cafe Racer leather jacket

Cafe Racer leather jacket

 

The beginnings of the motorcycle leather jacket were placed at the beginning of the 20th century and its development is totally connected with the beginnings of the aviation industry and motorcycles. It is born as an element of protection against cold wind and possible falls. As we enter the 20th century and the performance of airplanes and motorcycles increase, leather jackets also evolve in designs and materials.

Chaqueta moto Cafe Racer

Elvis Presley with a leather jacket | Cafe Racer leather jacket

Great Britain seems to be ahead in the manufacture of this type of garments. Exclusive retail stores in London, such as Dunhill and Harrods, made custom leather coats for the wealthy aircraft and motorcycle fans in the 1910s.

Tailor-made tailoring Lewis, a favorite of the British Café Racers and the Rockers in the 1950s-60s was established in 1897, and also made some custom leather coats around this time. We can find similar stories in France, Italy and Germany.

Its were half jackets or long jackets made of horsehide or pigskin, with design elements taken from male jackets, suggesting that the first motorcycle jackets were made by artisans of raincoats.

Around 1920, in the USA, companies such as Schott Brothers, Leathertogs and Harley Davidson started to manufacture their own line of biker jackets.

With World War II and the development of new combat aircraft, it is necessary to improve the equipment of the pilots. This causes the definitive boost to the technological development of leather jackets, the American government begins to produce aviator jackets, the most popular models are the A2, B3 and G1. In particular the A2, was the most popular of them all and they came to manufacture 200,000 units.

Many of these jackets were later used by young people to ride a motorcycle when returning from the war.

Although at the beginning of the century, Europe seemed to be more advanced in the manufacture and design of leather jackets, was in USA, which returns victorious from the incursion to the old continent, where a true industry of this type of garments was generated.

With World War II and the development of new combat aircraft, it is necessary to improve the equipment of the pilots. This causes the definitive boost to the technological development of leather jackets, the American government begins to produce aviator jackets, the most popular models are the A2, B3 and G1. In particular the A2, was the most popular of them all and they came to manufacture 200,000 units.

 

The Cafe Racers and their leather jackets.

Cafe Racer leather jacket

 

For the Second World War, Britain made about 400,000 motorcycles, its role within the war was quite secondary since it was used as a vehicle for comunication and transport. At the end of the war, many of these vehicles returned home and were sold at a very low price, a good portion of society would have the possibility of obtaining a cheap vehicle.

Cafe Racers of the 60s | Cafe Racer leather jacket

With the end of the war, they return home a huge number of young soldiers who intend to reintegrate into society. Having experienced so many traumatic situations will leave a mark. And we have to rebuild a country that had been badly damaged.

They had in common the feeling of camaraderie, strong emotions and alcohol.

Many of them find in the motorcycle a vehicle that will make them regain adrenaline and strong emotions, a distraction that will make them forget what happened and place them on the margins of society.

In the 50s, the conjunction of all these factors plus an economy that is beginning to recover makes all these young guys with some money in their pocket and free time, begin to modify the bikes they bought after returning from the war.

The premise was to make them faster, for that they modified the motors extracting from them the maximum benefits, they place a smaller handlebar that changes the driving position to a more sporty one, they place a single-seat saddle and even change the chassis.

Many of them find in the motorcycle a vehicle that will make them regain adrenaline and strong emotions, a distraction that will make them forget what happened and place them on the margins of society.

They loved rock and roll, they are Rockers motorcyclists, they are called Ton up boys.

In the year 53 the movie “The Wild One” was released in the USA, the appearance of this film is a phenomenon among young people, they all dress up as Marlon Brando and begin to behave like him.

Cafe Racer of the 60s | Cafe Racer leather jacket

They meet to drink beer in roadside bars, like the Ace café in London, they go from bar to bar doing competitions to see who arrives before each one of them. The police do nothing, this attitude of the authorities plus the self-confidence and impetus of young people, in search of strong emotions, make the “Cafe Racer” movement begin.

They wore leather jackets, at first they used the aviator jackets that they had used in the war, but at the most important moment of the “Café racer” movement they used especially the one that Marlon Brando wore in the movie “The wild one”, the model in particular it was the Perfect “One star” black color of Schott Bros.

The brothers Irving and Jack Schott, children of Russian immigrants, opened their factory in 1913, in the east of Broadway, they started making waterproof coats and a few years later biker leather jackets.

When everyone put buttons on the jackets, they decided to put zippers, revolutionizing the design of these garments. They decide to name their high-end jackets “Perfecto”, in honor of their favorite Cuban cigars.

In the 30s, they launched the leather jacket “Perfecto” for bikers, which later, with some variations, will be transformed into the “One star” that Marlon Brando will use in “The wild one”, becoming an iconographic garment that will last in time to this day.

The popularity of the film among young people in the 50s makes it the preferred jacket of the English Cafe Racers.

Cafe Racers of the 60s | Cafe Racer leather jacket

It is also true that, already entering the decade, the variety of designs used is wide, do not forget that the development of the industry had been very prolific. But in general, never abandoning the black color, inherited from the uniforms of the Second World War especially the German army.

As time passes, the young people and the companies that design it, look for some decorative variation, especially they are placed metal studs and they are sewn embroidered patches, giving the jacket a very particular aesthetic.

At the beginning of the 60s, with the new wave of color that invades the world, the young Café Racers paint their jackets by hand with inscriptions and symbols in full color. They would be the last variations that we would see from their jackets.

Society continued to evolve and MODs appeared, a new tribe of young people who wore suits and drove Italian scooters. Already advanced the 60s, the Café Racers of little by little were disappearing, and with them the British industry of the motorbike.

They meet to drink beer in roadside bars, like the Ace café in London, they go from bar to bar doing competitions to see who arrives before each one of them. The police do nothing, this attitude of the authorities plus the self-confidence and impetus of young people, in search of strong emotions, make the “Cafe Racer” movement begin.

 

 


Klauer & Iannuzzi | 2019 | Cafe Racer leather jacket