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The “Perfecto” Motorcycle Jacket

If there’s one thing we’ve learned from our greatest music heroes, it’s that style is necessary to stand out. Whether you listen to Kanye or Sufjan Stevens, you’ve likely learned that different is good. Different is interesting. Different is style. This month, we tip our hat to the kissing cousin of musical style: The Classic Perfecto Motorcycle Jacket, by Schott NYC.

Shortly after the turn of the century, at the ripe age of 21, Irving Schott and his brother Jack began their business of making raincoats in the basement of their Manhattan-based mainstay. The brothers started their business on a bustling New York street with a model that’s all but dead today: door to door sales (unless you’re in the telecommunications business). In the short years after, the brothers expanded their line beyond raincoats. With an attitude of irreverence for what’s supposed to be (and a drive towards what should be), their new designs of sheepskin-lined leather jackets were branded as the Perfecto line, named after Irving’s favorite type of cigar. Throughout the rest of the 1910s and into the ‘20’s, Schott NYC continued its growth in popularity and charisma.

In 1925, Irving became the first clothier to put a zipper on a jacket. And just three years later, he designed what we now know as the motorcycle jacket. Standing tall at a retail price of $5.50, this instant icon exuded style as much as it delivered function. The asymmetrical front added an element of wind protection (the lapels carried carefully placed snaps to prevent unwanted collar whips), and of course, it had the notorious zippers throughout. By the time the 1950’s rolled around, the Schott Motorcycle Jacket, now named the 618, became synonymous with the likes of some of America’s greatest badasses: namely Marlon Brando and James Dean. The 618 was a sign of rebellion and was banned by schools across the country. In the ‘70s and ‘80s, rebellion took on a different face: punk rock. The Ramones, Joan Jett, and the Sex Pistols all uniformed both on and off stage in their all black, studded, and pinned 618s.

Today, the 618 plays on it’s own stage. “I don’t even think of it as fashion,” says former GQ Style Guy Glenn O’Brien. “If it doesn’t go in and it doesn’t go out [of style], then it’s not really fashion.”

Glenn is right. This jacket needs no season. And it certainly isn’t looking for your approval. All it needs is a cool white tee and a pair of black pants. It’s always ready to be worn and is perfect for almost every occasion. It is, after all, the Perfecto.

About the model: Danielle Sullivan
Danielle Sullivan is the lead singer of the band “Wild Ones”. As shown here, she demonstrates the best way to wear the Perfecto leather jacket: white tee, black jeans, and bold confidence.