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STYLE AND CULTURE

CULT ITEM: BOMBER JACKET

By Matt Glazebrook, September 16, 2018

As its name suggests, the classic bomber jacket has a military heritage. Created for pilots in the '40s, the bulky leather G-1 has become something of a cult streetwear item over the years, thanks in no small part to Tom Cruise's look in Top Gun (stay tuned for the return of those aviator sunglasses and toothy grin with the Top Gun 2 reboot, due for release in 2020). But it's the more comfortable, soft-shelled cousin of the G-1, developed a decade after the original 1986 blockbuster, that’s arguably the more enduring style icon.

A still from the film This Is England | ASOS Style Feed

Picture: Rex

Warm enough for hanging around street corners in, yet lightweight enough not to hamper you when running from pesky authority figures, the bomber jacket has long been a youth tribe staple. James Dean's iconic character in Rebel Without A Cause, troubled teen Jim Stark, famously sported a red version, while the collarless, nylon MA-1 — matched with cherry red Dr. Martens, tight blue jeans and a freshly shorn 'do — became synonymous with the '70s skinhead scene.

Chuck D from Public Enemy in a bomber jacket | ASOS Style Feed

Picture: Getty

Though the skinhead movement's descent into knuckleheaded neo-Nazism (as depicted in Shane Meadows' This Is England) threatened the bomber jacket's universal appeal, credibility was restored by the embrace of the item by the hip-hop movement in the late '80s and early '90s, with Public Enemy as noted fans.

A street-styler wearing an emergency-orange coloured bomber jacket | ASOS Style Feed

Picture: Getty

Today, the classic versatile waist-length cut of the MA-1 ensures its status as a timeless wardrobe staple. Traditional olive green, navy blue or black varieties will see get through fall after fall — or you can opt for a burst of seasonal color (rust, caramel, burgundy, or even emergency orange) for an on-trend approach. Some of the beloved derivatives offer even more opportunity for a stylistic statement — the wool Letterman jacket with its leather sleeves and all-American varsity badges, and the silky sukajan with Japanese-inspired embroidery.

A street-styler wearing a black bomber jacket, sweatshirt, beanie, Yeezy trainers and side-stripe joggers | ASOS Style Feed

Picture: Getty

To show you’re ready for FW18, why not don an all-black ensemble? Make like this guy and opt for a black bomber jacket, then base the rest of your threads around it for a monochrome, minimal get-up. A beanie hat, sweatshirt, side-striped tracksuit bottoms and fresh kicks will give a distinct streetwear edge — and because your outfit's all one color, the structure of your bomber jacket will stand out even more.

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