Retro Leather Jackets – Recreating Automotive Fashion History

Spending the better part of 40+ years with a variety of major fashion retailers, I have learned some certain truths. Along with the inevitability of death and taxes is the truth that , in fashion, what had gone around comes around again. The cycle is usually generational. For some reason, every 40 years the essence of the hot fashion of the time is revived and given the title “Retro”. It was only natural, that with the upsurge in Vintage Automobile collecting and racing, some of the hot fashion associated with with the era of the 1960’s / 1970’s would start showing up about now – and also inevitable that there would be a large appeal to a younger, non automotive related audience.

First comes the fabric. Leather jackets have always been cool, but when worn by Marlon Brando and his motorcycle gang, Jimmy Dean in his Porsche 550, Steve McQueen “The King of Cool” in the Great Escape – “cool” had a new meaning. Leather in jackets relating to automobiles, modern and vintage, is back with a vengeance. Next comes the style. When I was buying jackets back in the late 60’s / early 70’s there was one style designed for “cool ” drivers and its generic name was the descriptive name of the company – “Style Auto”. Literally thousands of dozens of this style in a variety of fabric were made. It’s baaaack.

Tony “a2z racer” Adamowicz, working from his original 1970 collection of jackets has produced and is marketing an improved retro Top Grain Leather Jacket that captures the essence of the original. Perfect for both the new and old Porsche, Corvette, BMW, Shelby Mustang GT500, etc. Tony, who just had a podium finish at Infineon Raceway in his 40 year old 1969 F5000 Championship car, said that he will also be designing this Satin Lined, Leather Jacket in other fabrics including Corduroy and Nylon Cire. Tony plans to be styling in his vintage Datsun 240Z. I plan to follow suit in my 65 Alfa Romeo Spider Veloce. Niche market to mainstream continues to be the mantra for retro design.

The Big Transformation in the Fashion History

The evolution of fashion history began 19th century that includes Empire, Victorian and Regency styles. It was then followed the styles of Duchess of Windsor, Vionnet, Great Gatsby and flappers in the 1920s to 1930s. The latest trends in this era are dropped waistlines, raised hemlines and bobbed hair. The famous fashion designer, Christian Dior, gave a new look in clothing in 1940s to 1950s and the rock and roll styles began to emerged in this period.

Television also influenced several people on how they dressed in years ’40s and ’50s. The men’s fashion in this year was single-breasted jackets with three buttons, casual T-shirts like Hawaiian and fall-cut suits. These are some of the innovations made in terms of men’s clothing. The women’s fashion in the 1940s was jackets, shorter skirts and long-wearing styles.

On the other hand, the fashion history of the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s focused more on Mod styles, leg warmers and bellbottoms. From 1990s up to present, the revolution of the latest trends and styles continue to change as there are many fashion designers that creates a lot of styles and new designs in terms of men and women clothing, shoes, bags and accessories.

Since fashion is very important even in the history, it also helps you to present a good impression with others. Remember that personal style is the best way to express your own self. The way you carry yourself will reflect on what you opt to when it comes to fashion. You need to have a good appearance.

If you want to emphasize your body by the way you dress, you also need to know that wearing too tight clothes are not as good as you think because it can give others a bad impression towards you. You will also not be comfortable with this kind of outfit. Aside from wearing fashionable clothes, you also need to comb your hair to look neat and do not wear too much make-up in a broad day.

Furthermore, your style and fashion will let others know if you are serious or not. That is why it is important that you know what to wear in every occasion you are attending particularly if you are looking for a job. Always make sure that you look best in every clothes you wear because it also signifies your personality.

Fashion – History’s Bread Trail

Just as the rings of a tree tell its age, fashion acts as that ring. Immediately seeing a particular style of fashion, you can, with most certainty, tell its age. Clothing has the ability to be an excellent indicator of time. When you turn on an episode of say, COPS, by examining the clothing and hairstyles you can almost immediately decipher the decade. The same can be said for when one is watching say a movie preview, is it a period piece? What era? All you need to do is look at the clothing and think back to your middle-school history class. Let us not forget to mention what intense and indelible effect clothing has on culture and society. The first thing we see has a tendency to say a lot about who we are as people, as well as a society as a whole. In the beginning clothing was about protection and heat regulation. There are so many theories as to why homo-sapiens (man) began to loose the hair covering their bodies. Perhaps no one wanted lice living on them and eating them alive. Whatever the reason, the shift has shaped culture, questioning what may be acceptable and challenging that which is not acceptable, in addition to its primary purpose of shelter for the body.

Marie Antoinette, a woman famous for her fashion sense and ability to create trends, indulged her passion for fashion. While prominent heads of state lived off the yearly wage of 50,000 livres, Antoinette spend double that, around 100,000 livres on her wardrobe alone every year. Although well known for her high style, she kept some of her more extravagant spending a secret from the King. Antoinette not only set trends and presented new ways to express oneself through fashion it may have been a secondary function to her spending. Antoinette was unable to bear children, frustrated and childless, she kept tails waging with her wild wigs and costuming, diverting attention from the fact that she could not produce an heir.

The period of 1911 to around 1925 saw a lot of change in the way of women’s rights as well as women’s hemlines. The social upheaval that occurred as a result of World War I created a shift in the economy, which also created a shift in society’s role for women. As men went off to war, women were left behind to rear the children, tend the home, and now more than ever bring home the bacon. After the war, the Age of Jazz was ushered in, an era when prohibition looms large and styles changed dramatically, creating quite the controversy in the streets. In 1910 the hemlines were ankle-length; in 1919 they hiked up to the mid-calf and finally by 1925 hemlines were all the way up to the knee. In the span of 15 years, men and women were exposed to more feminine flesh than previously experienced in history. As women fought for their rights, they also questioned what society told them to wear and how to dress. If they had to take on both role of mother and father, they had better wear whatever makes them feel good.

Since its conception, the movie industry wanted to uphold the values and morals of the time. In 1922 the industry created the Motion Picture Producers and Distributors of America (MPPDA), headed by the former postmaster Will H. Hays. Later nicknamed the “Hays Office,” was all about upholding the standards of society, which decent people valued, e.g., regulating what was acceptable to be seen in regards to violence, sex, hemlines and necklines. For a while it was a great self-governing system solution for the motion picture industry, though in the 1940s with WWII, saw a weakening in its governing strength. Independent movie producers like Howard Hughes created films such as “The Outlaw,” a 1943 western, starring Jane Russell that chipped away at the compliance of the board. Considered too sexual and provocative, Hughes cut many scenes, raised necklines, and later was granted a seal approval from the “Hayes Office,” but disgruntled by all the editing, Hughes shelved the project until 1946. In 1946 Hughes, in a strong act of defiance, released his film without any edits and experienced widespread mainstream success despite the board’s obvious disapproval. Finally, in the 1950s the board was disbanded and the ratings system we now have in place started to come to fruition.

During and after the sexual revolution, society saw severe shifts in the styles seen in the streets. Though in the beginning of the 1960s only the hippies were wearing and doing radical practices. As the decade went on, it was more about a self-made expression of social defiance. Hippies wore less clothing, louder styles and even created garments of their own design as an answer to war, hate, ignorance and the values of regimented society. The clothing embraced by the hippie community reflected influences of eastern philosophy, psychedelic rock music, drug experimentation and all other forms of alternative consciousness. It shocked suburbia and shifted the acceptable standards of dress, no longer would women have to leave the house with set hair, a full face of makeup, gloves a coat and of course a hat. After the 1960s women and men have enjoyed much more freedom of expression in personal style. Maybe we were all just happy that some people put their clothes back on, no matter what those clothes might be.

The 1990s were another decade enjoying a new sense of identity, courtesy of the fashion world. Widespread economic productivity, a new way to communicate via the internet and a clear shift in gender roles in industrialized countries worldwide all lent to fashion’s mainstream appeal. Instead of actors and actresses on our magazine covers, it was the faces of Cindy Crawford, Linda Evangelista, Claudia Schiffer, Stephanie Seymour, Naomi Campbell, and Christy Turlington. High fashion’s heavy influence during this decade was certainly a bi-product of increased economic productivity. We started to watch runway shows on cable every Saturday morning, we wanted models in our gossip mags, and we defiantly needed their wardrobes. These big supermodels crossed all mainstream borders, appearing on the runways, as contract faces for the major labels, on TV and even in film. If not for these major crossovers, where would we be today? We would be without our Cameron Diaz’ and Charlize Theron’, both former models who have crossed the lines and influenced what we want to emulate in fashion.

Fashion is a force to follow, fueling the frenzy of civilization, questioning standards and crossing borders, acting as a permanent marker of what culture values and considers new or acceptable, feeding our dreams, fantasies, fears, and beliefs, and creating a piece of time to teach and test the ages.