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Over the course of 90 years, the Perfecto motorcycle jacket has become ingrained in the fabric of American culture. It has become a symbol of bravado and rebellion from the streets of downtown New York City to the open roads across the world. From humble beginnings, the tough, durable jacket has stood the test of time and will remain a timeless classic on the backs of the men and women who make it their own and continue to add to the history.
Irving Schott, son of Russian immigrants, founded Schott Bros with his brother Jack. They made their fur lined raincoats in the basement of atenement building on Manhattan's Lower East Side and peddled them door-to-door.
The Schott brothers were recognized as innovators in the apparel industry; revolutionizing American-made outerwear by being the first in the industry to sew a zipper on a jacket. Irving designed the first motorcycle jacket which he sold for only $5.50 at a Harley Davidson dealer in New York. Wool linings made it warmer, heavy grade leather made it protective, and an asymmetrical zipper made it wind and weather resistant. Irving Schott lovingly named his new motorcycle jacket after his favorite shape of cigar, The Perfecto. It was durable, rugged, and immediately embraced. To this new generation of bikers, the Perfecto® jacket was a symbol of the excitement, adventure and danger that fueled their fascination with motorcycles.
Civilian production of Perfecto leather motorcycle jackets was put on hold while, much like the rest of the nation, the company devoted its efforts towards supplying the US military with sheepskin bomber and leather flight jackets.
Tough and wise cracking, Marlon Brando became a symbol of rebellion, perched on his motorcycle wearing his Perfecto® jacket in the now cult classic film, The Wild One. The subsequent spike in popularity of the Perfecto surprisingly resulted in decreased sales. The jackets were actually banned by school systems around the country because they symbolized a growing teen demographic: young, rough, and rebellious.
The Perfecto® jacket was catapulted to the height of its popularity on the back of the quintessential rebellious teen icon, James Dean, who perfected effortless cool style and was rarely seen on his motorcycle without his Perfecto® jacket .
The New York City music scene changed forever when an unknown band called The Ramones, played in their first live concert at the newly opened downtown club, CBGB. "They were all wearing these black leather jackets...They looked so striking. These guys were not hippies. This was something completely new" describes Punk Magazine founder, Legs McNeil. These leather jackets were of course, the Schott NYC Perfecto® jacket, which took on a new image as the uniform of punk rock.
Irving Schott and his son Mel continued making their leather Perfecto® jackets after moving their manufacturing to New Jersey. Here, local rock musician, Bruce Springsteen, became an icon for the middle-class working families of America performing in rock clubs wearing his Perfecto® jacket.
Female Rock & Roll pioneer, Joan Jett didn't give a damn about her bad reputation and rocked a Schott NYC Perfecto® jacket with her band the Blackhearts. Women everywhere emulated her tough look landing the Perfecto® jacket as a staple of 80s fashion.
Through globalization, the Schott family exported their designs and the Perfecto® jacket became a worldwide symbol for "American Cool". The iconic jacket's name has become a proprietary eponym in Europe which Schott NYC fights to protect as the original. The family adds a fourth generation to its ranks, a feat achieved by less than 3% of all family businesses.
The internet age brought new technology and connected the world in ways never before imagined. As clothing companies began manufacturing overseas, made in the USA became more and more rare. The Schott family stood by their family legacy of traditional manufacturing with original machines right at home in the USA. A new wave of notable American rebels took notice of the authenticity and longevity and brought a new modern style to the ever timeless Perfecto® jacket.
The Schott NYC Perfecto® jacket is still made using traditional techniques in the New York City area. The timeless design is recognized as a fashion icon and acquired by The Museum of Modern Art in New York City. The company is operated by the third and fourth generations of the Schott family, and each leather jacket remains tailored by hand to the original quality standards drawn up by Irving Schott, 90 years ago. The Perfecto® jacket is ingrained with a heritage of rebellion, freedom, and rugged Americana.