1960s London: rebellious youths sped down highways on their motorbikes, sporting leather jackets, black boots and studs. Their outfits were sturdy and functional, perfect for the wild lives they led. But without meaning to, those bikers created a look that, even after decades, is still considered quintessentially cool. A timeless look that came to represent individualism –and this irresistible spirit lives on in the work of some of today’s top designers. Influenced by the freedom and resilience of the riders and the sleek design of motorcycles themselves, this season’s collections are redefining the biker heritage in contemporary fashion.
Hogan teamed up with British designer Simon Holloway for its fall/winter 2014-15 men’s collection, which streamlines traditional biking styles into a sophisticated casual collection. Fur-trimmed parkas of wool and cotton and slender biking boots both made appearances at Milan’s fashion week, combining cool elegance with the original biker spirit. For the women’s collection, the same influence is echoed in leather boots and more masculine outerwear, but the rest of the looks have a more romantic twist. (Left, a jacket in the women's fall/winter 2014-15 collection by Hogan).
Belstaff has been producing quality motorcycle jackets since 1924, and is celebrating its 90th anniversary. Along with a new collection designed by David Beckham, Belstaff has recently revamped its Pure Motorcycle line. The brand focuses on creating jackets that meet all the needs for safety and performance in a riding jacket, while also implementing luxury style. These jackets are no longer purely functional – they have become stand-alone statements of contemporary design. (Below, Belstaff).
Phillip Plein’s women’s collection for fall/winter 2014 is another that draws influence from the wild world of motorcycles. Focused on the idea of the ‘American Dream,’ the looks are dominated by leather, furs and studs. The sharp contrasts of colour and the power of materials like leather and denim conjure up the freedom of riding out into the American frontier. (Below, Philipp Plein).
In addition to designers finding inspiration from bikers, the motorcycle world is feeling the influence of fashion. Matchless, Britain’s oldest and most iconic motorcycle brand, has built a legacy of history since they began manufacturing bikes in 1899. Just recently, though, the brand has launched an outerwear line for men and women. Matchless has created a line of jackets that captures the spirit of riding, but they can be worn by anyone regardless of whether they own a bike or not. Drawing inspiration from Marlon Brando’s iconic biker role in ‘The Wild One,’ and featuring Kate Moss in its campaign, the brand has succeeded in building a line of stylish jackets with a rich background of authenticity.
Another example of blending motorbike heritage with luxury is the recent collaboration between French watch company Bell & Ross and Shaw Harley Davidson. Together they created the B-rocket, a one-of-a-kind bike constructed with the same precision that a watchmaker needs to create a luxury watch. The design recalls the speed bikes used to break records in Nevada and Utah in the 1960s, in turn inspired by the earliest jet fighters. Two timepieces by Bell & Ross, the BR 01 and BR 03 B-Rocket, show the influence of the quest for speed common to both aircraft and motorcycles.
With this year’s influx of biker style and influence, it looks like the free spirit of the 1960s motorcyclists is here to stay.