The Iconic Evolution: A Brief History of Leather Jackets and Their Popularity Amongst Actors and World Leaders

September 14, 2023 3 min read

The Iconic Evolution: A Brief History of Leather Jackets and Their Popularity Amongst Actors and World Leaders

In the world of fashion, few garments are as iconic and enduring as the leather jacket. These rugged yet stylish pieces have a rich history that spans centuries. They've been worn by rebels, adventurers, actors, and world leaders, making them a symbol of rebellion, freedom, and style. In this blog post, we'll delve into the fascinating history of leather jackets and explore how they became popularized by actors and world leaders.

Ancient Origins

Leather as a material has been used by humans for thousands of years. The ancient Greeks, Romans, and Persians all fashioned leather into various forms of clothing, including Armor. However, the leather jacket, as we know it today, didn't emerge until the early 20th century.

Early 20th Century

The leather jacket's popularity began to rise during World War I when military aviators needed durable and warm attire to protect themselves from the harsh conditions at high altitudes. Bomber jackets, made from sheepskin or horsehide, became standard issue for pilots. These early leather jackets were practical, but they also exuded a certain rugged charm.

The Hollywood Connection

The real turning point for leather jackets came in the 1950s when Hollywood embraced them as a symbol of rebellion and coolness. Marlon Brando famously donned a Schott Perfecto leather jacket in the 1953 film "The Wild One," solidifying its status as a symbol of defiance. James Dean also contributed to the leather jacket's popularity, wearing one in his iconic film "Rebel Without a Cause."

Elvis Presley, another influential figure in the world of fashion, often sported leather jackets on and off the stage, further fueling the trend. The leather jacket became a symbol of youth, rebellion, and nonconformity.

The Motorcycle Culture

Around the same time, motorcycle culture was on the rise, and biker leather jackets became a staple for bikers. The tough and durable nature of leather made it the ideal choice for riders, offering protection on the road. The jacket's association with motorcycle clubs and their mystique only added to its allure.

World Leaders and the Leather Jacket

While actors like Brando and Dean popularized leather jackets in Hollywood, they also caught the attention of world leaders. Perhaps one of the most iconic images of a leader in a leather jacket is that of President Ronald Reagan, who was often photographed wearing one while on his ranch. This added an air of ruggedness and approachability to his image.

More recently, leaders like Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping have been photographed donning leather jackets on various occasions. These images project an image of strength, resilience, and leadership, associating the leather jacket with power and authority on the global stage.

Contemporary Influence

In the contemporary fashion landscape, leather jackets remain as popular as ever. They've evolved into various styles, from the classic bomber jacket to the sleek biker jacket and the trendy moto jacket. Designers continue to experiment with materials, colors, and embellishments, ensuring that leather jackets stay relevant and stylish.


The history of leather jackets is a tale of evolution, rebellion, and timeless style. From their humble beginnings as practical attire for aviators to their status as a symbol of rebellion in Hollywood and beyond, leather jackets have left an indelible mark on fashion and culture. Whether worn by actors, world leaders, or everyday people, the leather jacket continues to be a powerful statement of individuality and attitude, reminding us that some fashion staples are simply timeless.