[Elements of FW14]: The Moto Jacket, Pt. II

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There have been countless modifications to the original Perfecto style since its creation back in the 20s, and the innovative takes on this timeless design just get better and better. From unbelievable textures to breathtaking details, and of course, awesome plays on color, what started as merely “a biker thing” has transformed into a key statement maker for guys and girls alike throughout the past century. Standing not only for toughness, but individuality, as well, the moto has been deconstructed, painted on, patched up, studded, spiked, and pretty much anything else you can think of that affords one the ability to be themselves through their jacket. It’s more about the message it gives than the function it serves.

Nowadays, you don’t have to do as much work to stand out from the crowd — the designers are taking care of that. With so many cool styles hitting the racks each day, it’s impossible to keep track of them all.

Textures

Texture plays a huge role in the design of modern motos, especially now that it’s not all about protecting one from 60 mph winds and nasty bruises. With an abundance of fabrics at their disposal, designers are changing the game, one jacket at a time. A favorite of mine is neoprene, which you can see in the style worn below. Juxtaposed against stiffer leatherlike materials, it’s nice to have softer, less constricting components come into play. My girl Leia pulled out a little faux fur, which is commonly seen as an accent detail by way of shearling collars and decorated sleeves (as you can see on hers). Whether it’s in the details or all over, the fabric makes a big impact!

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Other exciting fabrics and textures:

Denim, quilting, wool-blendsanimal skin (like Calvin Klein Collection’s amazing $70k alligator moto—I shot in it for our Head in the Clouds
project and it is jaw-dropping), worn leather, and mixed media (or fabric-blocking, as I love to call it)

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[his]. Jacket: Zara moto with neoprene sleeves // Other pieces featured: Croft & Barrow mock turtleneck, Zara Denim Couture biker pants, PUMA x Miharayasuhiro MY-72 oxford sneakers, DUMB Accessories watch. [hers]. Jacket: Nicole Richie for Impulse faux fur moto // Other pieces featured: Zara tee, BCBGeneration mesh cardigan, H&M leggings, Dr. Martens boots.

Details

It’s not just about the fabric, but what you do with it. The details, whether store-bought or added DIY-style, are truly what set a piece apart. I owe much of my love affair with the moto to Burberry Prorsum’s Spring 2011 runway show and Diesel Black Gold’s FW13 campaign, both of which revamped the essence of the biker by way of the sickest studs and spikes imaginable. But those shiny embellishments are only the beginning. My favorite element would have to be heavy quilting. It packs the perfect punch for the guy (or girl) who wants to give an off-the-charts look without being too flashy. I prefer mine in banded rows, as you can see below.

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Other statement makers:

Military inspiration: think Belstaff — thick, belted waists and tons of pockets;
collar action: point, band, and buckled stand collars; cropped lengths;
trapunto designsfringe.

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Jacket: H&M quilted biker jacket // Other pieces featured: American Apparel sheer tee, Conflict of Interest NYC limited edition fashion parody collection tee, Alexander Wang for H&M neoprene trousers, PUMA x Miharayasuhiro MY-72 oxford sneakers.

Color

If you know me well, then you KNOW I love color. Solid expressions, ombre, color-blocking, subtle accents—however it comes, I’m a fan. With that said, Leia and I pulled out a couple of tinted takes on the moto. I love a good color-blocked moment, so this [midnight blue x black] combo was a no-brainer! Meanwhile, Leia took a brighter approach, pulling out one of my favorite colors of the fall season, orange.

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When I break out my bikers, I tend to stick with black bottoms, but when the jacket’s got a little color to it, I see it as the perfect opportunity to introduce other hues into play. Sometimes I’ll get bold with a tartan pant or just keep it cool with denim, which we both used to complete our looks. Hers, distressed. His, jogger-esque.

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[his]. Jacket: H&M color-blocked moto // Other pieces featured: American Apparel Vintage crew neck sweater, Dirty Robbers Denim Co. joggers, H&M boots. [hers]. Jacket: Club Monaco moto jacket // Other pieces featured: Sara distressed denim jeans, Dr. Martens boots, bling courtesy of Macy’s.

Special thanks to Leia Kelly for hopping in front of the camera with me.
Photographed by Matthew Alexander.

Check out my [elements of FW14] Pinterest board for cool styles from your favorite brands,
a ton of moto inspiration, and even more exclusive [tnn] content to get you right for the season.

[Elements of FW14]: The Moto Jacket, Pt. I

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As I grow more and more in this industry, it seems like my eye for everyday style statements gets sharper as the seconds pass. Strolling down the sidewalks of NYC starts to feel more like reading a magazine and less like a quick trot here and there. This fall, I want to start looking deeper at the trends that jump out at me and really break them down, one at a time. To kick off my [elements of FW14] series, I’m putting the spotlight on [the moto jacket], a timeless staple that’s maintained its place in the menswear world over the years and is currently in the middle of a major moment.

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Easily one of the most undeniable trends on the streets of Manhattan, right next to guys in joggers and an overload of neoprene, the biker jacket is inescapable right now. Whether’s it’s the tried and true design from Schott Bros. or a fun, fast-fashion variation, the time to add some toughness to your look is clearly now. Why, you ask? Maybe it’s the timelessness of the piece that’s giving designers yet another chance to reinvent the style with fresh colors, exciting fabrics, and cool plays on design. Thinking about the direction of the industry right now, it could be that the growing normcore and minimalist movements are leaving consumers thirsty for a little edge to offset their simplified, more relaxed looks. But my guess: it’s simply that, whether they’ve been revamped or not, the collective details that make up these iconic jackets just never lose their cool—EVER!

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Flash back through the past century and you’ll see tons of examples of the moto’s impact on pop culture: Andy Warhol’s street style, Danny Zuko and the Greasers, Arnold as the Terminator, the Ramones, Johnny Depp as Cry Baby, Elvis, and, of course, Marlon Brando’s epic role as Johnny Strabler in The Wild One (the film that sent this outerwear legend to the stars). Created for function, but quickly transcending into the realm of fashion, the biker has stood as a symbol for rebellion, anarchy, rock & roll, and the whole notion of living fast and dying young; not to mention, a number of countercultural groups, like the punks of the 70s and the gay scene’s leather subculture. In the 50s, American high schools went so far as to ban the style in an effort to prevent riotous behavior from students. Wild, right? Even with all this meaning behind it, the jacket got its start as a utilitarian garment for protection on the road. Let’s take it back to the 20s when it all began.

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The Archetype: The Perfecto.

Generally considered the original biker jacket, the Perfecto was created in 1928 by Irving Schott at the request of Beck Industries, a Harley-Davidson distributor, and meant to be worn as a protective garb for bikers. Named after Schott’s favorite brand of cigars, they retailed at a mere $5.50! The Perfecto’s distinguished architecture was inspired by the aviator jackets and duster coats worn by German WWI fighters. Each detail was carefully customized for the American motorcyclist, leaving us with the legendary item we still know and love today.

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The essential details:

1) asymmetrical front closure, 2) belted front, 3) zip-up sleeve cuffs, 4) hidden collar snaps, 5) bad-ass epaulettes (originally with star studs), and 6) plenty of pockets (a change pocket, angled D-pocket, and two side pockets—designed vertically, not horizontally, for easier access while riding)

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The classic style has seen countless modifications by designers through the ages, including Jean Paul Gaultier, Rei Kawakubo for Comme des Garçons, and Yves Saint Laurent. In addition to the introduction of fresh plays on pocket design, new belting styles and updated collars, the trademarked details have been transferred to several other clothing styles, as well. Now, that’s what you call a fashion legacy. And even despite all the innovative advancements in construction, the original Perfecto hasn’t lost one bit of its impact.

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The Classic.

Jacket: vintage moto jacket // Other pieces featured: 21Men button down, Calvin Klein v-neck, Alexander Wang for H&M neoprene trousers, Swatch Scuba Libre timepiece, OAKNYC moto jacket keychain, NIKE Flyknit Trainers.

Photographed by Matthew Alexander.

Check out my [elements of FW14] Pinterest board for cool styles from your favorite brands,
a ton of moto inspiration, and even more exclusive [tnn] content to get you right for the season.