Recently at a very "conservative" estate sale, I found a surprise tucked in the back of the closet ~ a very old, vintage leather motorcycle jacket. No Harley's in the garage, no helmets on the shelf, of course its not unusual to find the unexpected at estates, but here was just a single leather jacket with zippers among Brooks Brothers suits and starched white shirts.
Laying on the seat for the drive home, as I looked at it I wondered who on earth thought of adding zippers to a leather jacket? Its a great look, style and of course, tons of secure pockets!
Research was fun. It lead me all over the place and to a most interesting history of zippered leather jackets.
A Russian immigrant's two sons, Irving and Jack Schott began making raincoats in 1913, selling them on the street door to door in Manhattan and they were a huge hit.
Inspired by his two favorite things, the Perfecto Cigar and motorcycles, Irving changed forever attire to wear riding motorcycles, and named his first leather jacket with zippers the Perfecto in 1928, selling them to a Harley Davidson dealership.
In 1954, the Perfecto jacket was made famous by Marlon Brando in the movie "The Wild One".. but were banned in high schools for their association with "hoodlums." Actor James Dean was always seen wearing his Perfecto.
As all fashions go, the Perfecto was once again resurrected in popularity in the 70s and 80s by punk rockers.
Blondie (Deborah Harry), Joan Jett were women leading the pack in leather~
as well as groups like the Ramones.
Still an American Classic style, still produced by the third and fourth generation of the Schott family, in the same factory and with many of the same vintage sewing machines, the Schott Perfecto is proudly made in the USA.
And my incredible vintage Schott find? it never made it home. My brother grabbed it immediately, and I'm really pleased it will be treasured for another 50 years and will stay in our family.
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