The evolution of motorcycling and car racing has come a long way since its inception in the late 1800’s. For many of us, our memories of such a sport or recreation would date back to the ’50s, ’60s and ’70s when it was represented on the silver screen. Films such as Rebel Without A Cause, The Love Bug and Grease romanticised the notion of the gritty and dirty speedways and back alleys through its hot on-screen love affairs and more importantly its style.
In 2019, racing-centred film Ford v Ferrari, gained a slew of awards nominations including Best Picture at the Oscars – proving our love for the vintage raceways never really died. And whilst the Shell branded one piece or emblem treated biker jacket was sign of a uniform, the belonging of a group or organisation, it is now a sign of individualism, dare I say it, a rebel without a cause.
The trend never really disappeared but why has it remained a staple in our daily kits? What is so powerful about these eras that lend a certain attitude to the look? We tapped Welsh-born, London-based costume and fashion designer Edie Ashley off the back of her collaborative collection with Andrew Almond of BOLT – available exclusively at MatchesFashion – to give us a rundown on the sport and its community and how it sparked a culture phenomena.
ICON: Where do you think the fascination of rebel-wear stems from?
Edie Ashley: “The fantasy of the unconventional. The clothing that you wear on the outside is a reflection of how you feel on the inside. This goes back a long way, for example, a native American would watch an eagle flying above him and want to wear the feathers of the eagle on his head in order to take on the spirt of his hero.
I think it’s about the essence of rebellion, personal to an individual within a piece of clothing rather than a specific rebellious look itself. Therefore rebel-wear is ever changing. To dress like a rebel you have to be a rebel. It’s a state of mind more than a look, it’s not what you are wearing it’s how you wear it.”
In your opinion, what has contributed to the longevity of the leather jacket?
EA: “For centuries, human beings have hunted animals to survive, and have been resourceful with their find, the skin of an animal has always been used as a by-product of the meat they used to feed themselves. Since the cave men and woman, leather has been worn not only for protection against the weather but as a symbol of strength and power. Not only towards other animals but towards their own personal embodiment and expression. To this day, the leather jacket still carries that animalistic essence from our history and represents rebel style. Whether you are wearing a leather jacket for your own benefit or for the benefit of others, it’s the same attitude.
The leather jacket is a very powerful symbol, it’s like wearing a flag. A rockers whole history gets indelibly rubbed into his jacket – In John Stuarts book Rockers he speaks of “A thoroughbred rock ’n roller”, the leather jacket was their uniform, their tribal stamp, unique to each individual. Often leather jackets have silk linings, in the book Stuart speaks about the “complex magic of the black leather jacket and the play on its outer toughness and inner vulnerability”.”
How can we incorporate this trend into our everyday wardrobe?
EA: “If we acknowledge the trend as a feeling and an attitude, we can use customisation and styling through our existing wardrobe to express ourselves and capture our individual spirit. For many people the ancient act of wearing a leather jacket no longer excites them, the mood has changed. We now rebel against leather, and make these symbolic jackets in plant-based materials, and even better – from left over fabrics, which takes us back to our ancestors, the resourceful cave men and woman. Although the jacket is no longer made of leather, the attitude still remains.”
Shop ICON’s picks below.
BOLT x EDIE Upcycled Cotton-Drill Jumpsuit available at MatchesFashion / $1,583 AUD SHOP NOW
Holly Ryan Men’s Signet Ring / $280 AUD SHOP NOW
Givenchy Lace-Up Leather Military Boots available at MatchesFashion / $1,575 AUD SHOP NOW
Coach Leather Blouson / $2,195 AUD SHOP NOW
Heart of Bone Chunky Necklace Chain / $650 AUD SHOP NOW
Zara Paint Splatter Loose Fit Jeans / $70 AUD SHOP NOW