The Rebel Gears: How Biker Patches and Jackets inspired the Rebel Subculture

Biker Patches

Like other great inventions, biker jacket, the most enduring icon in outwear industry, was created because of a single stroke of genius. In 1928, the co-founder of New York City-based garments factory Schott Bros, Irving Schott, designed and produced their very first leather motorcycle jacket with a zipper in it. They named the jacket, Perfecto, after Irving Schott’s favorite cigar.

It shields the wearer against different elements like cold, dust, rain, or from sunlight. It replaces the less efficient button motorcycle jacket that was very popular at that time. The jacket’s new silver feature with asymmetric positioning design allowed motorists to lean over their motorbikes without cutting into the body.

If you want to a brief history of how Perfecto was made, visit

The original Perfecto jacket featured a cropped, body fit, D-pocket, and lapels design to snap down and fold over each other as well as zip all the way from down to top. Stocked by popular motorbike, Long Island-based company Harley Davidson, the sleek, rugged jacket (the first designs were made from cowhide, horsehide or goat skin) was an instant hit for new generation bikers.

Although other brands like Harley Davidson and Sears went on to make biker jackets, the Perfecto is a registered trademark of Irving Schott’s company, Schott Bros NYC. The most popular color in Perfecto’s early years was brown.
The black jacket takes off in the early 1950s. It was that a particular movie hero named Marlon Brando seal the garment’s fate as the face of the biker outlaw culture.

In his 1953 film, the Wild One, he wears the skull-and-bones Perfecto when he was cast as Johnny Strabler, the leader of a motorcycle club, the Black Rebels Motorcycle Club or BRMC. According to the co-curator of the exhibition Beyond Rebellion, Justine Hel along with Danielle Morrin, Kristen Haggerty, and Tae Ahn: Using the Biker Jacket that was recently displayed at The Museum at FIT or Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City.

The film Wild One was inspired by the riot that happened in California, the Hollister riot in 1947, which became one of the defining moments in the motorcycle as well as the biker jacket history. An unruly motorcycle club called Boozefighters has reportedly started the riot in 1947. An article from Life magazine featured an image of one biker from the motorcycle club wearing a biker jacket during his arrest.

Hell, for leather

The uncanny move by the wardrobe department of the film Wild One was to attract the attention of the era’s subculture groups, led by motorbike enthusiasts in the United States and rockers are also known as the leather boys or the ton-up boys of Britain, as the symbol of youth rebellion.

Spin-off movements like punk also displayed love for the jacket. The Fashion Institute of Technology’s exhibition highlighted how counterculture groups are attracted to the fetishistic and sexual qualities of the biker jackets. Sid Vicious, one of the members of popular British punk group Sex Pistols, is said to ask to be buried with his double-rider biker jacket when he dies.

The same coat was spotted during his mug shot when he was arrested in 1978 for the alleged murder of his girlfriend, Nancy Spungen. According to Jason Schott, a member of the Schott family and the CEO of Schott NYC, the rock ‘n’ roll bad boy image of the jacket was not deliberate when the jacket was first to conceptualize.

But the truth is, the family has always focused on the building of the jacket rather than focus on the image the jacket is perceived by society. That is how Irving Schott started the company, how the biker jackets like Perfecto gained popularity and the connection to the bikers of the United States and the rockers of Britain.

Want to know more about the Fashion Institute of Technology’s take on biker jackets? Visit

When you look at biker jackets, you will see a lot of emotions of the person wearing it. Whether you wear it on yourself or looking at other people wear it, it will always look badass. It is something that has been strengthened over time. It is identified as a jacket for tough people.

Famous personalities like Bruce “The Boss” Springsteen, James Dean, as well as The Ramones, are among the biggest contributors to the Perfecto’s legendary status, though there are “middlemen between the consumers and the manufacturers” so to speak.

The company does not own any of the iconic celebrity-related jackets, but occasionally, Schott NYC occasionally borrows the iconic jackets if there is a special occasion like an exhibit in New York for the company’s 100th anniversary. The celebration also saw the firm’s first store opening in the city since 1940.

To customize your biker jackets with biker-inspired patches, you can visit the website of popular patch manufacturers like for some design ideas.

Hot Schott

With the Perfecto’s street appeal, the legendary garment’s journey from the highway to the runway was unavoidable. Among the most famous interpretations was the beat-inspired alligator jacket by Christian Dior designed by Yves Saint Laurent in 1060 which did not seem to go well with the management.

It was the first haute couture interpretation of biker jacket according to FIT, adding that the exhibition displayed a picture of the design featured in 1960 Vogue magazine alongside a Perfecto-inspired jumpsuit by Yves Saint Laurent designed in 2009 by Stefano Pilati that illustrates the influence of the biker jacket at YSL.

The house’s creative director Hedi Slimane is continuing this tradition. While Gianni Versace Jean Paul Gaultier and Claude Montana are among the prominent designers to revisit Perfecto, the final section of Fashion Institute of Technology exhibition explored more radical and necessary take on biker jackets.

They included designs from the 2005 Biker + Ballerina collection of Comme des Garcon, pairing sculptural, black leather, and saddle-stitched biker jackets with soft tulle skirt and pink gingham, a statement idea of femininity, strength, and masculinity.

The biker jacket trend peaked in the late 80s with a bigger fit on the arms and shoulders just like what Michael Jackson was wearing in his Thriller music video, the red one, although the recent heritage fashion has seen a resurgence in demand for biker jackets which enjoys a multi-cultural and multi-generational appeal.

Click here to see the evolution of motorcycle style of fashion.

Model Kate Moss and music artist Yoko Ono are among the current followers. Harley-Davidson biker jacket that was signed by Pope Francis made a significant buzz in the previous year, which was sold for $77,485 in a charity auction held in Paris.

Despite all that buzz, the sacred status of the biker jackets among hardcore bikers remained untainted. There are still jackets with more technical designs that bikers could use, with ballistic nylon or removable armor, but most bikers are still making a fashion statement with the jackets they are wearing.

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