Must Read for Enthusiasts: The Rise of the Bomber Jacket

Must Read for Enthusiasts: The Rise of the Bomber Jacket

Originated from military pilots, the bomber jacket has claimed its place in the heart of fashion enthusiasts as a versatile piece of everyday clothing. The jacket´s history is a bit more interesting than most, and it will be covered in this article.

From military pilots to skinheads to college kids, and now to every fashion enthusiasts. We are indeed talking about the bomber jacket, arguably one of the most iconic jackets still in high demand. Since starting out as a heavy-duty leather piece in the early 1900, it has gained its place as a versatile everyday piece in most fashion houses; Here is the story behind the legendary bomber jacket.

Bomber jacket

Bomber Jacket: Early history

The bomber jacket emerged in World War I aside with the airplanes lack of enclosed cockpits, with the goal of keeping the pilots warm. The U.S. Army launched the Aviation Clothing Board in September 1917, and the distribution of heavy-duty leather jackets started. Those jackets included the famous A-2, an important inspiration to modern flight suits. The A-2 was, and still is, tasteful, but as WWII arose, the fighter planes still lacked proper enclosed cockpits, and with temperatures as low as -50 degrees Celsius due to jet engines, the jackets needed improvement. The A-2 would freeze at the high altitude, making it both cold and uncomfortable. In the need of a lighter and yet warmer jacket, the B-15 was born. This bomber is often seen as the main inspiration to modern bombers.

Forward to 1949, the MA-1 replaced the B-15. This was due to the constriction of the planes, which finally had proper enclosed cockpits installed. That made the tick fur collar absolute, and was replaced with a knitted, elastic collar. In the event of a plane crash, the makers behind the MA-1 also introduced the famous orange lining as a safety feature, with the purpose of turning it inside out to increase visibility. A long with the colored lining came jackets in other colors than midnight blue as well. During the Korean and Vietnam Wars, sage green became the go-to color in case of emergency crashes in vegetated areas, due to its camouflage-effect.

One of the most famous bomber jacket is the G-1, which influenced films like Top Gun.

Bomber Jacket: Increased popularity

As the bomber jacket was made more versatile it began to appear in Europe during the late 1950s, as the European Air Forces popularized the jacket, which eventually made it to the commercial consumer. In the late 1960s the bomber jacket was picked up by subcultures, such as British skinheads. Some say they wore them as a sartorial expression of the changing social conditions at the time, as a split arose amongst the “mods” in London. The wealthier mods bought luxuries such as trendy clothing, scooters and other accessories, and not to mention amphetamines, which the less affluent mods could not afford. That divided the two, and created a social border. The less wealth mods where typically of working class, working in factories or blue-collar jobs, which meant that their hair had to be short and their clothing practical. In comes the bomber jacket, that may also have been a rejection of the wealthy mods lifestyle.

At the same time, after the end of WWII, the American fashion scene greatly influenced Japan, where clothing such as oxford shirts and skinny jeans weren’t to be found. The demand for Americana grew rapidly as the younger populations interest in style and culture exploded. That lead to Kensuke Ishizu establishing the brand VAN in 1951, and the Japanese youth could finally get their hands on, amongst other, the famous bomber jacket.

A long side, in the United States, the bomber jacket became the inspiration for the famous letterman jacket, which purpose was to represent the school the wearer attended. In the later years, the bomber jackets popularity has only grown, seen on artists like Kanye, and included in collections from, amongst many many others, Raf Simons, Nike, etc, all giving the piece their own tweak.

 Outdrop´s Bomber Jacket

Inspired by the bomber jackets rich history, we have developed our own, which yet classic in style, brings an important issue up for discussion.  


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