Why Do Leather Jackets Have So Many Zippers?

While looking for a new leather jacket recently, I realized that there are so many options to choose from and equally as many details and features to consider.

In my mission to discover what features are necessary, I have noticed that most leather jackets have so many zippers, and I wanted to know why.

The many zippers on leather jackets were incorporated into the design to prevent belongings from falling out of pockets while riding a motorcycle. The diagonal zipper, however, is meant to close up the jacket and provide warmth.

The leather jacket is now an iconic style statement piece, and you need to keep a few things in mind when investing. So, let’s take a closer look at the zippers of leather jackets.

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The Origin of the Leather Jacket

The stylish fashion item’s origin can be traced back to military wear in the early 1900s. During that time, leather jackets were a necessity and not a luxury.

The German fighter pilots began wearing brown leather jackets during the First World War, which later became known as the bomber jacket.

Synonymous with the flight and aviator jackets, the warm bomber jacket was a convenient and sensible choice for pilots who experienced extreme cold at high altitudes.

As a part of military uniform, the aviators of that time could never have known how popular and timeless the style would become to the fashion world just a few years later.

Why Do Leather Jackets Have So Many Zippers?

Leather jackets have plenty of zippers.

Most have zippers on both sleeves, pockets, shoulders, and chest. Sometimes, the pocket zippers don’t actually have a pocket when you open them, making them seem pointless.

Some of the most common leather jackets would have four pockets on the outside: three between the zipper (one on the chest, two on the hip) and one on the flap.

What is even more practical is that the pockets outline the jacket by small metallic buttons that aren’t noticeable: it maintains the jacket on the torso, even when sitting down.

Contrary to popular belief, each zipper on a leather jacket serves a purpose.

  • Each zipper on the sleeves tightens the cuff and keeps them rolled up.
  • Each zipper on the outside pockets keeps belongings from falling out.
  • The diagonal zipper in the middle closes up the jacket, preventing the wind from bunching up the leather jacket when the rider is on the bike.

Since there are plenty of questions surrounding leather jackets and their zippers, we took some of the most frequently asked questions and answered them below:

1. Why do leather jackets have zippers on the sleeves?

It’s common for leather jackets to feature a small zipper on each sleeve cuff.

Leather jackets are designed with zippers on the sleeves to create a snug fit around the wrists and prevent the sleeves from flapping in the wind while riding a motorcycle.

The zippers on the sleeves of leather jackets are also useful for keeping them rolled up. You can “zip” them in place after you roll up your sleeves, keeping them right above the elbows.

2. Can you roll up the sleeves of a leather jacket?

You can roll up the sleeves of leather jackets by folding the cuff about 2 or 3 inches from the end, then refolding it a second or third time until it extends past your elbows.

By doing so, your elbows should prevent the sleeves from falling down, all while providing you with a cooler and more comfortable fit during the hot summer months.

However, keep in mind that not all leather jackets feature the same construction. Leather jackets made of thicker material make it harder to roll up your sleeves. 

3. Are leather jackets meant to be zipped up?

Leather jackets are meant to be either unzipped or zipped up.

Zipping up a leather jacket keeps you warm and comfortable. It also helps break the wind and prevents the jacket from bunching up when you are riding a motorcycle.

You can also leave the jacket unzipped, which provides more options to customize your look. For example, you can wear a shirt that contrasts with the color of your leather jacket.

At the end of the day, you can zip your leather jackets up or leave them unzipped.

4. Why do motorcycle leather jackets have diagonal zippers?

The diagonal zipper in a leather jacket was purely meant for function over form.

Motorcycle leather jackets have diagonal zippers to help block the wind and prevent the jacket from bunching up when the rider is mounted on his bike.

The 613 and 618 Perfectos have been produced for more than 50 years. There have, however, been slight variations in the design over time.

For example, in the 1940s, the side pockets were at an approximately 60° angle and the breast pocket at a 50° angle, zippers close up. In the late 1980s to 1990s, the side pockets were at an approximately 60° angle and the breast pocket at a 45° angle.

5. Why do bikers wear leather jackets?

In addition to providing warmth and being windproof, bikers wear leather jackets for protection. If a biker falls down, the leather jacket protects their skin.

Leather, unlike cotton, wool, or denim, is significantly better at resisting abrasion.

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Benefits of Leather Jackets with Zippers 

If you’re going to wear your leather jacket while riding a motorcycle, choosing a zipper front is a good idea. Here are some of their benefits:

  • Zippers create an impenetrable and more complete seal than buttons. The zipper will prevent air from getting into your leather jacket and freezing you to the bone when riding on your motorcycle. 
  • Zippers are easy to use if you are wearing gloves.
  • Zippers on sleeves tuck the cuff in to prevent flapping and distraction while riding.
  • Extra pockets in leather jackets are always added for storage space as motorbikes don’t have much room – Zippers keep your pockets closed and items safe.
  • Zippers on cuffs also help gloves slide over, keeping wind and rain out. 

Now you know why leather jackets have so many zippers, including the mysterious zippers on their sleeves. The truth is, each zipper serves a unique purpose.

Written by: Robert Martin