Adam Greenfield wrote a great newsletter a few years ago in which he examined the flood of nostalgia unleashed by his purchase of a new Schott leather jacket (his previous Schott had been stolen from a Lower East Side house party in 1982). In the course of his reverie, Greenfield makes a point about leather jackets that should have been obvious to me but wasn’t at the time: “A Schott is heavy. It’s functional outerwear, meant to protect you in the event that you manage to dump your bike on a rainy corner…So it feels, in the first instance, like urban armor.” I remembered that line in particular a week ago on one of those chilly spring days when leather jackets proliferate in New York, far from any glimmer of physical danger that would necessitate a layer of protection. In Greenfield’s curmudgeonly manner, he compares the leather jacket to the punk rock with which it’s culturally linked: “Any power the thing might have had to connote resistance has been drained from it by overuse and overfamiliarity, if not outright recuperation, but by the same token it is massively reassuring and comfortable.” Like so much fashion, the leather jacket evolved from a functional garment into an image of itself.
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