6 Leather Jacket Styles to Know – Rider, Bomber, Varsity, and More
The leather jacket is another one of those wardrobe staples that comes in a whole host of styles and silhouettes. But except for some anomalies, most leather jackets out there follow the blueprint of classic styles which have been present for decades. So, whether you’re looking to invest in your first leather jacket or simply in need of a brief refresher, here is our rundown of six classic leather jacket styles.
A-2/G-1 Style Bomber
The A-2 and G-1 leather jackets were largely worn by U.S. Army Air Corps during World War II, and will forever be known as the bomber or flight jacket. The G-1 is iconically worn by Tom Cruise in the 1986 film, Top Gun.
Both styles are hip length, with substantial elastic at the hems and cuffs and dual patch-pockets at the lower torso. The main difference between the A-2 and G-1 is the collars, the A-2 has a point collar, whilst the G-1 features a pronounced fur collar, but both styles are made up of tough leather, traditionally in a rugged brown color. Wartime A-2s were typically made of horsehide and G-1s of goatskin, and most decent reproductions of these U.S. military classics will utilize these leathers.
Current makers of A-2 and G-1 styles include:
Originally made famous by Marlon Brando’s bad boy character in the 1953 film, The Wild One, the rider/Perfecto style is the classic motorcycle jacket. Typically constructed from thick cowhide, the Perfecto features iconic asymmetrical zipper closures, snap-down lapels and shoulder epaulettes, and an adjustable belt at the waist. Zippered cuffs allow for chunky riding gloves to be worn, and boxy fit makes for easy layering.
Makers of the Perfecto style include:
- The Real McCoy’s Buco
- Himel Bros.
- Langlitz Leather
- Falcon Garments
- The Flat Head
- Lewis Leathers
- Nine Lives
The Moto/Cafe Racer style was developed in England and gained popularity in the 1960s. As English riders adopted the culture of modifying pre-WWII motorbikes and racing them between pubs and cafes across the U.K, they sported the lightest leathers they could find on their rides, hence the name of this clean, minimal style. Typically made from cow or horsehide, Moto/Cafe Racer jackets feature a mandarin collar with a throat latch, zipped cuffs and pockets, and a straight zip-through closure. Another common feature of this style is the single chest pocket which often has a decorative chain or ring-pull on the zipper.
Makers of this style include:
First introduced between the late 1920s and early 1930s, the Cossack/Campus style is traditionally made from lightweight leather for comfort and versatility. Originally worn as a sportswear piece, the Cossack was donned by college sports teams and off-duty servicemen as a casual throw-on. You can recognize this hip-length style by its smaller, often rounded or rolled collar, and use of buttons as opposed to zippers or snaps. Other classic details include dual patch pockets at the lower torso, adjusters at the hip, and cotton lining.
Makers of this style include:
Varsity jackets can be traced back to the late nineteenth century when ivy league colleges began adorning cardigans, sweaters, and jackets with the name of their institution, by using felt or chenille patches or decorative stitching. The jacket we refer to today as the ‘Varsity’ typically has a wool body with button or snap closure, leather sleeves, and elasticated hems and cuffs. Varsity collars are usually the knitted flat style like the Golden Bear varsity pictured above, but traditional pointed or shawl collars are also used.
Makers of Varsity jackets include:
The classic Type III trucker jacket doesn’t just come in denim, leather versions with similar hallmarks have been in production for decades, too. Leather trucker jackets still feature metal buttons, dual patch pockets – and the iconic knife pleats of the Type III – or something similar depending on the brand.
Makers of leather truckers include: