The leather material is typically dyed black or shades of brown, but a wide range of colors is possible. Leather jackets can be designed for many purposes, and specific styles have been associated with subcultures such as greasers, motorcyclists, and bikers. Most modern leather jackets are produced in Pakistan, India, Canada, Mexico, and the United States. Antelope, buckskin, goatskin, sheepskin, and cowhide are the hides most commonly used to make leather jackets.
In the latter half of the 20th century, the leather jacket—in many forms—achieved iconic status and general acceptance through an inextricable to Hollywood. Such jackets were popularized by numerous stars in the 1940s and 1950s, including actor Jimmy Stewart (who had actually commanded a U.S. bomber squadron during World War II) in the film Night Passage (1957). The brown leather jacket has become a de rigueur part of the wardrobe for the Hollywood adventurer, from Gary Cooper in For Whom the Bell Tolls to Harrison Ford in the Indiana Jones film series.
A leather jacket could be used to shape a character, providing an important ingredient to define the essence of ‘cool‘. Prime examples include the Perfecto motorcycle jacket worn by Marlon Brando‘s Johnny Strabler in The Wild One (1953), Honor Blackman as Cathy Gale on The Avengers, and Michael Pare in Eddie and the Cruisers duo (1983 and 1989). All these served to popularize leather jackets among American youth from the “greaser subculture” of the 1950s and early 1960s. Later depictions of this subculture feature via The Fonz from the television series Happy Days, produced in the 1970s and 1980s, but set in the 1950s and 1960s (Fonzie’s leather jacket is now housed in the Smithsonian Institution), and in the film duos Eddie and the Cruisers and Grease. Flight jackets, also (occasionally with fleece collars, as seen in the film Top Gun (1986), have remained fashionable for decades.
In the 1990s, a variety of leather jackets patterned after an eight-ball, referred to as an eight-ball jacket, was briefly trendy. It occasionally resurfaces as a retro fashion item. There are many more examples of iconic leather jackets worn in popular culture, such as the Schott Perfecto worn by the T-800 character of The Terminator films and the longer ¾ length trench coat style worn by action heroes such as Steven Seagal, by Wesley Snipes as Blade in the Blade films.
Another example is the leather jackets worn by Brad Pitt in Fight Club, where the antagonist Tyler Durden constantly appears with different variations of his red leather jacket. Other famous leather jacket icons include those worn by members of the Black Panthers in the 1960s and 1970s.In most popular culture examples, the jackets are worn by people to cultivate an intimidating image.