- Harley-Davidson has successfully established itself as a lifestyle brand, with its clothing line being recognizable globally.
- The classic biker jacket is a staple in many riders’ wardrobes, symbolizing toughness and edginess.
- Harley-Davidson’s influence extends beyond motorcycles, with its presence in music, movies, and TV shows further solidifying the brand’s image as rebellious and adventurous.
For the last 120 years, Harley-Davidson has been one of the biggest contenders in the motorcycling world. So much that the brand itself isn’t just about motorcycles, it’s about lifestyle. From helmets, to leather jackets, to shop-specific t-shirts, all the way down to the boots, Harley-Davidson has successfully managed to insert itself into the world of fashion. Riders all over the world can express themselves not just through their rides, but through their gear. So much that certain parts of the globe recognize Harley-Davidson only through its clothing line. Because over time, there have been certain key indicators of the “Harley look” that would suggest that someone rides a Harley-Davidson. It could be the quintessential biker jacket. It could be a t-shirt with a bald eagle or a wolf with a lightning background. It could be a bandana tied around one’s head or tucked in their back pocket. Maybe it could be a pair of leather harness boots. And in some cases, a Harley-Davidson tattoo (because when’s the last time you saw someone with a Honda tattoo?). Harley-Davidson’s expansive clothing line continues to stay true to its roots throughout its 120 years. From the days when gentlemen would race bikes on dirt tracks, to the wild 1980s, and even forging ahead with newer styles forming today. So let’s explore how Harley-Davidson continues to carry the mantle of “biker fashion” for today’s riders.
The Classic Biker Jacket
Who doesn’t love a biker jacket? In fact, if you don’t own a leather biker jacket, can you really call yourself a biker at all? Obviously, nobody is gatekeeping this concept, but a black leather jacket with zippers, buttons, and sometimes metal studs is one of the biggest giveaways when someone rides a Harley-Davidson. These days, biker jackets are all the rage, and they are a bold fashion statement whether you ride a motorcycle or not. They give off a sense of “toughness” and “edginess”, and they can certainly feel that way wearing them too. The biker jacket was created by brothers Irving and Jack Schott in 1913. Though it did not enter the mainstream until 1928, when their company, Schott NYV, designed a jacket specifically for riding motorcycles known as the “Perfecto” for Harley-Davidson. It featured everything that a biker jacket is known for: functioning zippers, buttons, allowing customers to wear it layered with other clothing, and easy to put on and take off. In those days, the jacket was priced at $5.50, which would calculate to about $94.36 in 2023. Now with almost a century of being associated with Harley-Davidson and biker culture, the biker jacket remains a staple in many riders’ wardrobe thanks to its stylish and practical nature.
Thankfully for all of us, Harley-Davidson is still producing the classic biker jacket with some modern improvements known as the “Motorbreath“.
Priced at $300, some of the special features on this jacket include:
- Midweight goatskin leather
- 100% polyester taffeta lining.
- Asymmetrical zip front and zippered sleeves.
- Welt hand-warmer pockets with zipper closure
- Snap flap front coin pocket
- Interior stash pocket
- Metal snaps along collar points
- Snap-tabs at waistband
- Debossed eagle graphic with nailhead studs.
Influence On Music
Just like many motorcycle riders, many musicians view themselves as outcasts of society. They chose a different path, regardless of the obstacles and trials they would face. It certainly isn’t the most “traditional” of lifestyles, but they all manage to speak to all of us to some degree. It is because of this overlap why many musicians would associate themselves with Harley-Davidson. H-D is the brand of rebels, as well as bring out that inner-rebel inside all of us, so it comes as no surprise that some of the biggest names in music throughout the decades would stock up on Harley-Davidson gear in their wardrobes. In the early 1960’s, there was a growing counterculture among the youth of America, and one band that best represented that attitude of the time was The Ramones. Seen all wearing leather biker jackets, these punk rockers pushed against the mainstream to the point when it was symbolic of “anti-authority” in rock music. From there, many other rock bands would be seen in Harley gear like the Sex Pistols, Judas Priest, Billy Idol, Motörhead, and so on. The brand continues to work with some of the biggest names in music today, from Green Day, Foo Fighters, and even a collaboration with rapper/singer Post Malone in a limited edition “Chrome Malone” collection featuring t-shirts, hoodies, riding gloves, pants, and jewelry.
Post Malone x H-D Collection
- Chrome Malone Tee – $50
- Flaming Bar & Shield Chrome Chain Necklace – $120
- Horsepower Leather Gloves – $70
- Flaming Bar & Shield Tee – $50
- Horsepower Full Zip Hoodie – $150
- Horsepower Pullover Hoodie – $125
- Studded Horsepower Slim Fit Demin Vest – $150
- Chrome Malone Bandana – $25
- Men’s Studded Horsepower Denim Pants – $175
- Chrome Malone Adjustable Baseball Cap – $40
Influence On Movies And TV
When it comes movies and television, Harley-Davidson has quite the presence. With some of the biggest biker films like Easy Rider and Terminator 2: Judgment Day, we can forever associate H-D with Arnold Schwarzenegger’s famous line “I need your clothes, your boots, and your motorcycle.” These movies helped solidify the image Harley riders would project: carefree adventure-lovers, leather-clad badasses, and sometimes a mixture of both. Sons of Anarchy was another hit television series that put Harley-Davidson in the spotlight while telling the stories of a group of American renegades bound by blood and family. Since then, a new generation of riders wanted to be like Jax Teller. From his slicked-back hair, flannel, leather vest, and white sneakers. While there are many Hollywood celebs that will throw on a leather biker jacket just for photo op purposes on the red carpet, and then never hop on a bike in their life, some stars like Jason Momoa will unapologetically flaunt his love and passion for Harley-Davidson motorcycles. In fact, H-D has on multiple occasions joined forces with the actor to produce the “On The Roam” collection for the adventurous and free-spirited. Featuring tees, tank tops, hoodies, leather jackets, and pants inspired by Harley-Davidson imagery and the Momoa’s passion with the brand, which includes a graphic of his ’36 Knucklehead. This is all coming from the guy who arrived at his second Saturday Night Live hosting gig on a Harley, so we’re pretty sure he’s all in.
On The Roam x Harley-Davidson Collection
- The Real McCoy’s x H-D Cycle Champ 1940s Leather Jacket – $2,400
- On The Roam x H-D Knucklehead Hoodie – $170
- On The Roam x H-D Classic Racing Hoodie – $195
- On The Roam x H-D Knucklehead Tee – $65
- On The Roam x H-D Ringer Tee – $65
- On The Roam x H-D Chainstitch Script Henley – $110
- On The Roam x H-D Canvas Work Pant – $195
- On The Roam x H-D 1/4 Zip Leather Pullover – $1,500
- On The Roam x H-D Tank – $60
Evolution Of The “Biker Look”
If you’re ever walking down the street and see a “biker” walking near you, the first thing that pops into your head is not “I bet that guy rides a Kawasaki.” You’re probably imagining him just getting off a Road King or a Street Bob, not a Ninja 400. While the iconic biker jacket will forever be a part of motorcycle fashion, the typical “biker look” has grown and evolved to take on many new forms, and we can still give that credit to Harley-Davidson. Granted that there are more styles of jackets available to consumers, that means there are ways to express one’s self. Some prefer gear that is sleek and performance-based. Others prefer something more durable and weather-resistant. Others will ditch leather completely and stock up on the ever-growing flannel trend. The same can be said for the growing population of female riders. Not every woman who rides a Harley-Davidson has to look like a ball-busting broad at a Mötley-Crüe concert. Instead, there is a large selection of practical and stylish gear that celebrate one’s passion for riding while still remaining feminine. All in all, Harley’s expansive clothing line has been able to apply itself to riders of all styles and backgrounds. It covers those that are fans of your classic Harley biker look, those that are in for a sportier angle, riders that prefer to let everyone know they like to really open up their Milwaukee-Eight 114, and those that just like to throw on a Harley-Davidson t-shirt as part of their regular casual wardrobe. Harley riders come in all shapes and sizes, and these days, different personal interpretations of what it means to look like a biker.