The History of the Bomber Jacket

Can you believe that a lot of your wardrobe basics derive from military wear? The bomber (also known as a flight jacket) we’re seeing everywhere today is actually based on the MA-1. That design was first issued in the Air Force and military of United States in 1950.

Military men used to wear leather and wool shearling flight jackets before that, but it was during the WWII when the airplane technology advanced and planes flew to higher altitudes and breakneck speeds. It was getting so cold up that it was leaving pilots to freeze while in the air. The solution was to make flight jackets from nylon, prized for its insulation and quick-drying properties. Unfortunately, during the war, the nylon was used to make parachutes. When the war ended, the military started making the jackets from nylon, with an orange lining underneath, for the pilots to be spotted even from a distance in an event of a sudden crash. That is how the MA-1 was born.

By the late 60’s through the 80’s, the bomber jacket began crossing into a more fashion territory. It was then that the transition from a uniform to a symbol of rebellion happened, and when it became big part of the punk movement, usually paired with Dr Martens. The popularity of the bomber jacket exploded in the 80’s, as it was featured in several hit films of the decade. Harrison Ford in Indiana Jones and Tom Cruise in Top Gun were one of the most notable ones. Both the fact that the jacket fit so well and the huge celebrity promotion made it a classic piece of the decade.

Today, the bomber jacket still remains the most notable fashion staple. It is frequently worn by celebrities and re-interpreted into modern versions by different brands.

Photo credits: luke rohde