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Friday, September 30, 2011

The Eight Most Iconic Cinematic Jackets ... and Where to Get Them



By now, a good number of you regular theater goers probably checked out Nicolas Winding Refn's Drive, which sped into theaters last weekend. One of the elements of the film that cannot be ignored is Ryan Gosling's white quilted sateen racing jacket, emblazoned with a giant scorpion patch on the back (more on the careful choosing of and inspiration behind Gosling's character's jacket in my recent interview with Refn).

Having always been a fan of both film and fashion, I thought it fitting to take a look back at the coolest jackets in cinematic history. Whether the clothes make the man or the man makes the clothes, the jacket is the essential piece of cool for any iconic character.

Try them on after the jump.

Indiana Jones (Harrison Ford) and his brown leather adventurer jacket from Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark

This is the cinematic jacket. It is the Holy Grail when it comes to film fashion. If ever a character was known by his iconic pieces of clothing, it's Indiana Jones. The fedora. The boots. The bag. The shirt. And of course the jacket.

Other than just being eternally cool with its brown leather bomber style, Indy's jacket serves as an external, visual reminder of just what the teacher by day/adventure-seeking archaeologist by any other day has been through on his quest to find the secret treasures of the Earth. Rough and weathered. Beaten, bruised and worn in. Nicked, scratched and scarred just as Indy, a man's man, is. But the jacket, also like Indy, is always ready to keep on absorbing the abuse, looking cooler and cooler as time and wear conditions it. But, most importantly, it never looks as if it belongs in a museum.

Kind of crazy when you think about the fact that not only did Harrison Ford play not one but three iconic fanboy characters (Indiana Jones, Han Solo, and Rick Deckard) and that each character had their own iconic jacket.

Original maker: Wested Leather Co.

Peter Botwright, Wested's original tailor of the Indy jacket commissioned by Spielberg for Raiders, is still producing authentic replicas of the jacket in standard sizes and even made-to-order custom tailored ones, which come complete with a Certificate of Authenticity. Botwright even offers the rest of Indy's outfit, including the trousers, the shirt and the belt. Punching sound effects not included.

Where to get a good reproduction: There are number of places that make their own version of the Indy jacket though screen accuracy is always a big determining factor that separates the costumes from the clothing so to speak. If you don't want to pay the equivalent of a few golden idols, then Todd's Costumes is your best bet.

The Rocketeer (Billy Campbell) and his tan leather aviator jacket from The Rocketeer

Another leather jacket inspired by fashion from the aviation days of the '30s and '40s in another film inspired by serials of the same period (Disney actually planned The Rocketeer as a trilogy hoping it would take off after the success of Raiders but unfortunately it ran out of gas at the box office). Flyboy Cliff Secord already had the aviator ensemble ... all he needed was a retro-futuristic jet pack created by Howard Hughes and a helmet that resembled a hood ornament to bring out the hero in him. Yet, he wouldn't have looked as cool jetting around saving the world from Nazis without that camel-colored jacket!

Original maker: Unknown

Where to get a good reproduction: Only a few companies offer reproductions of The Rocketeer's jacket, ranging in price all the way up to $700, but the cheapest is coincidentally Wested Leather Co. - maker of the original Raiders jacket. Their jacket is made using original patterns from the actual film jacket and will run you about $352.

Johnny Strabler (Marlon Brando) and his black leather motorcycle jacket from The Wild One

If we're talking leather jackets and film, it doesn't get any more eternally cool than Johnny Strabler's black leather motorcycle jacket from The Wild One. You see this style of jacket on bikers, ruffians, punks and rebels everywhere but it was Brando who first made it iconic. The Wild One jacket (officially known as the "Perfecto") has been seen on the likes of James Dean, Bruce Springsteen and just about every other icon of Americana cool.

Original maker: Schott, NYC., the first company to put zippers on jackets!

Where to get a good reproduction: Don't settle for a reproduction! Get the real deal from Schott, who offers the jacket for $540 bucks (along with plenty of other cool leather moto jackets like the red, white and blue racing striped Easy Rider jacket). If you don't want to drop that much, you can probably find a close enough style at any respectable vintage shop or motorcycle outfitter. Just remember, no amount of money can buy cool. You've got to wear it!

Jim Stark (James Dean) and his red Baracuta-style jacket from Rebel Without A Cause
Speaking of Jimmy Dean, the rebel without a cause made a jacket of his own iconic in the second of only three films he starred before suddenly and tragically dying in an automobile accident. Dean's on-screen presence as Jim Stark was as fiery and eye-catching as his signature red wind breaker, which instantly became as recognizable as Dean himself.

Original maker: The original maker of the Rebel jacket is still unknown, despite many enthusiasts efforts to discover its origin. Many believe it was not made by Baracuta but was in fact a McGregor Anti-freeze style, popular in the '50s, custom made by the film's costume designer, Moss Mabry. However, director Nicholas Ray claimed he took it off a Red Cross worker and another account claims that it was simply bought at a department store. So, it seems the famous red Rebel jacket is as mysterious as the man who made it famous.

Where to get a good reproduction: Being that the jacket is so recognizable (come on, even people who have never even seen Rebel Without A Cause are familiar with that jacket), you can find various versions all over the place, both screen accurate replicas with all the buttons, flaps, and zippers in the right place or off-the-rack jackets inspired by Dean's. This American Apparel nylon taffeta wind breaker is a good start. A Google search for red Baracuta jacket will get you going in the right direction if you're looking for something a little more authentic. There are even times when you can even find original vintage McGregor Anti-freeze jacket on eBay but they are rarely in red and are typically more expensive.

The Joker (Heath Ledger) and his purple long coat from The Dark Knight

Like James Dean, Heath Ledger was an actor taken well before his time. Fortunately, he left us with an eclectic filmography filled with memorable performances. No performance of Ledger's, however, is more memorable than his last: Batman's arch nemesis The Joker in Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight.
What made The Joker's clothing, specifically his signature purple long coat, so memorable is the true style it had. So opposing yet so complimentary to his personality. A character that represented total anarchy in its truest and purest form, that cared about nothing more than watching the world burn just to see what happened, was actually quite the snappy dresser! Not exactly what you'd expect from this guy, right? Exactly. The Joker's custom clothing (that was made referenced more than a few times in the film) only added to the dynamic contrasts of the character.

Original maker: The Joker's clothing was in fact custom made by the film's costume designer, Lindy Hemming. Man, was she ever born for that profession with that last name. [Editor's note: Rimshot! He's here every week! Try the lamb!]
Where to get a good reproduction: Don't settle for the lousy Halloween costume version on this one! Magnoli Clothiers -- the leading tailors in film costume reproduction -- offers the entire Joker ensemble, including his violet-colored long coat.

Lloyd Dobler (John Cusack) and his '80s tan trench coat from Say Anything
Another cool long coat worn on screen, yet this time it was by a Mr. Nice Guy. Lloyd Dobler had a thing for Diane Court to the point that, when he gave her his heart and she gave him a pen, he stood outside her window blaring "In Your Eyes." Eat your heart out, Romeo! But aside from Peter Gabriel's ballad blaring for a boom box held high, what makes this titular '80s scene so totally rad is, yep you guessed it, Lloyd's trenchcoat.

Original maker: Who knows? Say Anything isn't exactly up there on the list of cinematic jackets so not too much detective work has been done on this one ... outside of my own that is for when I went as Lloyd for Halloween one year. Talk about commitment; your arms get tired holding that boom box all night!
Where to get a good reproduction: Your local Goodwill. Actually, that's probably where Lloyd would get his anyway.

Marty McFly (Michael J. Fox) and his reddish-orange puffy down vest and denim jacket from Back to the Future

Speaking of quintessential '80s movies, no list about jackets or '80s flicks in general would be complete without Back to the Future and Marty McFly's bitchin' threads. Sure, his vest may have not had arms -- which is generally what qualifies something as a jacket -- but, as a subject of multiple classic jokes in the film (For one, "Hey kid, what'd you do, jump ship?") and an iconic piece of film clothing in general, it deserves its spot on this list! Not to mention the fact that the denim jacket McFly sports underneath his vest is a sought after piece of cinematic clothing in itself.

Made by Guess by Marciano, the denim jacket was actually a rare run almost impossible to find nowadays that many BTTF enthusiasts have begged and pleaded the fashion label to rerelease. Hey, Nike did it with the Air Mags and we saw the media frenzy that caused.

Original maker: Of the vest, no one knows. The two-tone gray and blue denim jacket was made by Guess by Marciano.

Where to get a good reproduction: For the vest, you should be able to find a good red puffy down vest at just about any department or sporting goods store as the temperatures get colder. But if you want one that is the right shade of redish-orange and has buttons instead of a zipper like McFly's, then eBay is probably you're best best. For the denim jacket, well, as we said it's extremely rare. But Magnoli Clothiers -- we told you they were the leading tailors in film costume reproduction -- make the most accurate reproduction out there, complete with the jacket's unique lining.

Tyler Durden (Brad Pitt) and his red blazer/red leather racing jacket from Fight Club

Red. A color that keeps reappearing on this list. Jim Stark's red wind breaker. Marty McFly's red down vest. And of course, Tyler Durden's not one but two insanely cool red leather jackets. It takes a lot for a man to wear a red leather jacket, but if ever an actor or a character could pull it off, it was Brad Pitt's Tyler Durden. Then again, he wasn't real so he could wear whatever he wanted to ... and, well, as you'll recall, he did. But somehow, even though it all looked so thrown together and effortless, it still had such a well-dressed vibe. In this case, the man definitely made the clothes.

Original maker: Unknown. But Durden's red leather blazer was likely vintage as a lot of his clothing was. As for his red leather racing jacket, that was probably made by a more high end designer.
Where to get a good reproduction: Both styles are all over the Internet. From expensive reproductions (like this one or this one) to cheaper pleather ones, they are not too hard to come by. Nowadays, being able to wear one and look and feel like Brad Pitt while you do it is a little more difficult to achieve.

So what about Drive's sateen scorpion-emblazoned racing jacket that inspired this whole thing...
Well, with the film being so fresh, no one has announced a reproduction yet. Refn himself told me that he has three hanging in his closet and, in a recent interview all about the jacket, the film's costume designer, Erin Benach said that 13 total were made. After all, The Driver's jacket does get a little dirty and blood-soaked as the film plays on...

According to Benach, the character's jacket was inspired by 1950s Korean souvenir jackets that Gosling himself actually wears (you know, the kind that were kind of baseball-style jackets and had patches of tigers and dragons all over them -- before Ed Hardy made that forever uncool).

The good news for all of us cinematic jacket enthusiasts out there is that Benach also hinted that the jacket may soon be available for purchase online. (For the rest of Gosling's get-up, check out these two recent articles on GQ &

Where there is a famous film jacket, there is a group of people out there (myself included) who want to get their hands on it. For proof, look no further than, a website wholly devoted to this quest.
I hope this list helps you to stay cool while you stay warm this fall, sporting one of your cinematic hero's outerwear.


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