I am thinking of writing an article on the history of the motorcycle jacket. I was wondering if Schott could help me out with some research. I own and have pictures of multitudes of jackets manufactured pre 1930 using hookless zippers (later Talon) . These early zips date these jackets to the 1920s and I have recorded at least one hundred jacket brands making motorcycle jackets and other leathers during this period. Does Schott have any photos of Schott jackets from the 1920s with Hookless zippers? Can you guys send me any invoices for zippers, pictures of old jackets from this period, sales reciepts or other material that might back up the historical message that you invented the motorcycle jacket. I really want to get my story straight for the article. I was also wondering if there are any sales slips or records regarding selling jackets for Brando in the wild one. I looked at the zippers and patterns on that jacket. It looks very similar to a Durable brand jacket from that time. Is there anything you can send me to verify that it is a Schott jacket? I would really appreciate it as I would love to get the historical references correct in writing my piece on the origins and history of the motorcycle jacket.
My initial research indicates some interesting facts. The earliest mass produced motorcycles appear in Germany...for whom the military produced riding leather jackets to accompany the bikes. These were a modified cavalry style leather jacket (tunic with the angled offset front panel) shortened for riding that later prevailed in the luftwaffe flight design. This cavalry design is the basic motorcycle jacket style that was used when applying the angled zip. Zippers were invented in the U.S. and Hookless was the first manufacturer patent holder...later Talon. There are numerous companies making motorcycle jackets in the 1920s at this time..mostly button up but the basic modern style jacket...many of them had d pockets (known and gun or map pockets at the time). The classic motorcycle jacket look in black appears at this time. The earliest versions I have seen that had a Hookless Zipper were made by LeatherTogs out of Mass. There are many documented pictures of hookless zipped LT jackets so inference is they came closest and earliest to the modern jacket. In the 1930s Schott appears to have made a contract jacket for Harley Davidson...not traditional style as Hellers Cafe..Larry owns one of these jackets. That and one other are the only two I have seen. If we fast forward to Beck and their D pocket jacket...the pattern is an almost dead replica of the Leather Togs jacket. Beck appears to be a contract based company that copied the LT jacket and had it produced under contract. This seems to be the source of the famous Beck jackets which appear in the 1940s. Their styles are shared by companies like Buco and many later copies by others. So the inference is that Schott made these jackets in the 1940s (early) under contract to Beck. So from what I can tell very very good quality leather jackets were made by Schott early in the jacket historical timeline, however not invented, nor the first to make the zippered D pocket. The Brando jacket is a whole other debate. I have been part of discussions with Japanese collectors who have done frame by frame analysis of Brando's jacket. They feel that it is in fact a Durable jacket from the period. I would love to get clairification about this stuff so I am hoping someone at Schott has pictures or records that can flesh out the real story behind this history. If you have any additional information I would love to have some copies so I can send them along to the other collector/historians so we can find out the bigger picture and story of leather motorcycle jackets.
I would strongly suggest for the history of Schott, you purchase our 100th. Anniversary book, which will have the history of Schott. Included in the book are photos of vintage jackets, labels, Beck jackets and alot more. I could never be able to provide all the information you are looking for by emails or postings on the blog. This book contains more then I could ever tell you on our history. I have also posted information on another book done by the same person that did our book, Rin Tanaka, who has published a book on the history of all motorcycle jackets. You can purchase our book on our website by following the link on the Home page. Gail
Rin Tinaka's book entitled "Motorcycle Jackets: Ultimate Biker's Fashions".
I guess my point is....it seems that your brand makes claims to have invented the motorcycle jacket...put the first zip on a motorcycle jacket, invented the d pocket jacket and that the jacket in The Wild Ones worn by Brando was your jacket.....I cant see that any of these claims have factual basis....I can say that Schott was one of many early leather jacket makers in a pantheon of early jacket makers and is still in business. That you made great jackets, and deserve a place in the history books of jackets...but I was hoping you would have some more details about these other claims so I could get some clairification.
I can only direct you to the books that contain the history of motorcycle jackets that have been documented. Rin Tanaka is a historian on motorcyle jackets not just our jackets. Our company knows the history on when we did what and who wore our jackets. We can only tell you our history, based on our records. This is a family business with the 4th.generation now working in the company. I am sure in your family history and stories have been passed down from generation to generation and this company is no different. Who would have known that someone would want something documented when making a jacket. The Schott family know their history just like you know your family history. I am not even sure what kind of proof you want. You need to read the 2 books I recommended hopefully they will provide information you are looking for. Our book will take you through the Schott history and the other book will contain a complete history of motorcycle jackets. Gail