International Women's Day celebrates the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women, globally. The day marks a call to action for accelerating gender parity. Significant activity is witnessed worldwide as groups come together to celebrate women's achievements and/or rally for women's equality. At BODA SKINS, we celebrate IWD all year round, so today we've taken a closer look into how women have shaped the meaning of leather.
Below, we have looked into the history of some of the most iconic women to walk the earth. From movie stars, to international musicians, to athletes that are at the top of their game; they all have one thing in common: leather. But, one thing that goes unnoticed, is the length of time and that leather has been an integral part of the evolution of womenswear fashion.
Peep below for our timeline on the history of ladies in leather.
1950's: LEATHER WAS REBELLIOUS
In the 1950's leather jackets were seen as the most rebellious things for women to wear. According to Harley-Davidson, the perfect female fit came in the form of the "Ladies Companion Jacket" in 1954.
The jacket still had the same masculine features, but it had been tailored more specifically for the ladies. During this time, figures such as Brando or Dean were thriving in a sea of roomy, and heavily-pocketed leather jackets that would soon become iconic in female history.
For the women who dared to wear the leather jacket during this time, you have to look no further than Sandy in 'Grease'. As the movie was set in the '50s, it shows a clear representation of what it was like to rock the Female Companion Jacket at this time.
1960's: BRITISH "MOD" SUBCULTURE CAME TO PLAY
During the 1960's, the leather jacket was known to have been famous with the Beatles and Elvis Presley.
The women saw this, however, and turned it into their own thing. Following the wave of 1950's biker films, women were inspired to be themselves. This lead to the popularity of female biker culture sky-rocketing - women's fashion shifted after this.
Women began to ignore the ideas of how society thought they "should" dress, and began to rebel against the norms. This meant looks of head-to-toe in black, finished off with stunning leather jackets.
1970's: WOMEN WERE THE REAL ROCKSTARS
In the 1970s, leather jackets were most commonly seen on the backs of men like Fonzie or members of the Hells Angels, who were varying degrees of cool and hugely dangerous. But when women wore leather jackets, the subversive nature of them proudly wearing this tough guy look was seen as 'sexy'.
By the end of the decade, female members of Joan Jett & the Blackhearts and Blondie were regularly photographed wearing pin-covered leather jackets to signal that they were both tough and cooler than you will ever be.
1980's: MADONNA BEGAN TO CHANGE THE WORLD
In the 1980s, the jacket went from merely signifying "sexy" or "badass" to being a staple for anyone and every woman, from a pop star to a soul songstress to a punk kid. The jacket couldn't define the woman, but the woman could definitely define the jacket.
Madonna wore leather for her 1986 music video for "Papa Don't Preach", and even before, earlier in the decade, powerful women in music like Tina Turner had started favouring the leather jacket as well.
According to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Madonna gave women power: she gave more than just dance hits, she created a change that saw the brith of hundreds of new female pop stars around the globe, and fashion statements that will last for decades to come.
1990's: LEATHER BECAME THE NORM
In the 90's, the jacket was just another item of clothing that they could wear without much of a stir.
You could purchase a leather jacket at your local department store, and during this time, there were women that made the leather they wore quite iconic. From sports stars, to actors, to singers and bands, the leather jacket became the thing to own in your wardrobe. The jackets became much more accessible, too. Available at numerous price ranges, those growing up in working-class homes were able to buy alternative jackets to what they saw their role model wearing on the TV that weekend.
Cher was one huge example of a mega-star that wore leather on the international stage. She was seen wearing leather for her iconic record "Turn Back Time".
2000's: LEATHER SIGNIFIED REAL CLASS
The most important women in the world were all rocking leather during the 90s. After the fabric began to move from the realms of every day fashion, it quickly moved into a more luxury space.
Actress and singer, Alicia Keys, being one of the main figures that regularly wore the iconic style. Her connection to the streets of New York created an undeniable attachment to the city and black leather.
Her single, "Try Sleeping With A Broken Heart", exemplified the solidarity of her look, while staying relatable within the New York streets.
TODAY: LEATHER MEANS POWER
Now, in 2022, leather evokes different connotations than it once did. Over the last decade, we've seen it evolve into a material that portrays class, wealth and power.
Leather is worn by the biggest and most influential women on the planet: from athletes, to politicians. The style has become an integral part of fashion globally, and has continued evolve to move with the times.
While the jackets continue to have the same connotations as they've always had, the look has been adapted to become transferrable across numerous styles.
Leather has now become a symbol of class, and as a leather jacket lasts a lifetime, female-power continues to blossom in line with it.