Schott NYC Leather: “Daddy, where do biker gangs come from?”
Established in 1913 Schott NYC was the first company to put a zipper on a jacket and came out with the Perfecto motorcycle jacket early on, setting a style trend that would last more than a century – well almost a century! They also produced jackets and clothes for the US military during WWII and later for US law enforcement.
After WWII many vets came back and as is usually the case, found it difficult to integrate back into daily civilian life. The motorcycle gang was an easy way to find the camaraderie and feel of a unit, and with the extra money Uncle Sam provided consistently through paychecks, the vets grouped up on moto-bikes. At first, it was just about the brotherhood. Then Hollister happened.
In 1947, during the races on the July 4th weekend a group of hooligans rolled up wanting to blow off some steam by spectating, which naturally requires the consuming (consummation?) of alcohol. The races included all types of racing except for asphalt road racing, which in all honesty hadn’t quite been invented yet.
The hooligans got a little rowdy, and there were “riots”, but the hooligans did more damage to themselves than anybody or anything around them. The press blew it out of proportion and the rebel biker was born.
Part of how the situation was blown out of proportion was Marlon Brando and the Schott 618 jacket in the movie inspired by Hollister – The Wild One (1954). Don’t think you’ll find this jacket however, it has stars from the 613, so some customization will have to happen here. This cemented in place the image of the “outlaw biker” causing black leather jackets to be banned from some schools in the 1950’s. From there Hollywood took a hold of it with a vengeance and with these biker gangs providing plenty of material to pull from with their steadily increasing antics, the Hells Angels, the Banditos, the Sons of Silence and many others were born and propagandized.
I often wonder if these gangs would have gotten as brutal as they are today were it not for the media hype they had to live up to.
But what does all this fascinating history have to do with a leather jacket? Um, the jacket is the token it’s recognized by! And it is a very hooligan jacket, isn’t it? I didn’t specify which model is so particularly hooligan because lets face it, they are all awesome! I don’t think there is a Schott in existence that isn’t a hooligan skin. There might be a spectrum allowing options for Rockers, Mods and hipster cuts and designs though.
Pricing is quite reasonable, if not easily affordable for a genuine leather jacket which will hold up to asphalt rash and put you next to that honey in as much time as it takes to bat an eyelid. The Perfecto, aptly named as it has stood the test of time decade after decade, is the icon which denotes the tough biker look, way before “tough bikers” existed. Funny how a jacket can have such a story to tell? What’s your jacket’s story?