Sam Kuper

Leather Jackets:
Cool but Costly  

Every thrift store has at least one rack, sometimes an entire room dedicated to one of the most iconic pieces of Americana that you can own—a leather jacket. If the flannel shirt was the uniform of those rebels outside the mainstream, the leather jacket was perhaps its original ideological counterpart (check out our blog post, “Flannel and Grunge: A Pacific Northwest Love Story”). However, while the flannel went from representing blue-collar workers to angsty teens in rural Washington State, the leather jacket went the opposite direction—from the outskirts to the mainstream.

One of the leather jacket's first subversive moments in modern cultural history was in the movie The Wild One (1953), starring Marlon Brando. Brando's character, Johnny Strabler, leads the Black Rebels Motorcycle Club and is fully clad in leather (fun fact: the first motorcycle leather jacket was sold in 1928 in a New York Harley Davidson store). Steve McQueen, AKA, the "King of Cool," consistently wore leather jackets in his films during the height of the American counterculture trend of the late 60's and 70's, as the rebels of the past became the mainstream popularity of the future. From Michael Jackson's iconic red leather jacket in the "Thriller" music video to Beyonce and Bruno Mars' all-black leather outfits during the Super Bowl XLVII halftime performance, leather has certainly not gone out of style—but at what cost?

While it is a popular quantitative exercise to demonstrate the amount of water it takes to make only one pair of jeans (2,866 gallons), leather being a byproduct of beef means it takes almost three times the amount of water to create just one leather jacket (7,996 gallons!). And while the leather jacket is traditionally known as an American icon, the top five producers of leather in the world are China, Brazil, Italy, Russia, and India, not to mention that many leather jackets come from scraps of hides leftover from the meat industry. It is no secret that the meat industry is a huge contributor to global warming, as emissions from livestock account for about 14.5% of total greenhouse gas emissions. Does this mean you should not wear or buy leather jackets at all? No! Good thing is that essentially every thrift store has excessive amounts of vintage leather jackets—it’s just a matter of finding the right one for you. Here is the selection of leather jackets that we have to offer! 

Ride in thrift,
Sam Kuper

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