The leather jacket will always appear every fall season on the runway; it’s a true testament to its iconic status as a piece of menswear and its versatility in its many forms. But it’s the Air Force-inspired leather bomber that stormed the runway this fall 2012 season with many designers taking advantage of its clean shape and cropped length. After the break, we take a closer look at the menswear classic, its history and its appearance on the runway.
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History of the men’s bomber
The leather bomber can be traced back to WW1, where the Americans developed a jacket that could protect their pilots from the inclement weather when flying in the open cockpits at the time. That jacket was standardised to what is known as the Type A-2. According to specifications, the jacket featured horsehide leather (in seal or russet), knitted wristlets and waistband, zipper front and hidden snap fasteners. Shearling was added for especially cold climates. Retired during the 60’s and the 70’s, it was reissued in 1988 due to the many requests of servicemen after the surging popularity of the film Top Gun. It’s still worn today in the Air Force.
On the runway
Shape and proportion
While there were plenty of leather bombers on the runway this season, the standouts opted for clean forms and complimentary silhouettes. Yigal Azrouel kept it pretty true to form, presenting the bomber jacket in a classic shape without much adulteration. You can see that the naturally cropped length of the bomber jacket elongates the legs, making it very flattering for many men hoping to gain that extra few abstract inches. Acne and Valentino double down on the cropping by pairing the jackets with sharp ankle-length trousers. It’s a risky move but the look can work well if you cut a trim figure.
Shearling and wool
It is a well known fact that wool and leather are natural pairs and the shearling collar proved to be a popular accompaniment. The trim adds warmth and luxury to what is traditionally a utilitarian garment. Many stylists also layered the jacket over knits to reinforce that contrast between the hard and soft. Alexandre Mattiussi of Ami combines both in a look with notable effectiveness and restraint. It’s pretty easy to pull off at home with the right jacket, since it’ll be doing most of the work. Be forewarned that there is an increased chance of girls touching you due to your extreme tactility.
For more about shearling for men beyond the bomber, follow that link.
The men’s bomber jacket: colours
If there’s one element that designers happily play around with, it’s colour. Orange red at Arny’s and Diesel, olive at Dior, baby blue at Acne and even metallics at Bottega Veneta and John Lawrence Sullivan – a quiet foreshadowing for the season ahead. A minimal white version from 3.1 Phillip Lim deserves special recognition for its modern interpretation and downtown streetwear styling. These colours work because they compliment, not clash. While I’m all for advocating the classics, a bomber in the right colour will make a bold style statement.
Going forward in to spring
Look out for the familiar shape come spring, when the bomber transforms into the blouson. The lighter cousin to the leather bomber, the blouson comes in a variety of fabrics and colours and offers a more sporty take for the warmer months. If you like the shape of the bomber, but don’t want to invest in leather then the blouson is a great place to start.
For more inspiration in how to style and wear the leather bomber like a pro, check out the gallery above and click on the thumbnails.