ITEM OF THE MONTH: LEWIS LEATHERS PHANTOM RACING JACKET
The biker jacket had long been a fashion stable by the time this Lewis Leathers Phantom model was created in the 1970s. The famed Perfecto model had been developed by Schott for a Harley Davidson dealer during the 1930s; it reached iconic status and sealed its rebellious image thanks to Marlon Brando’s misfit wearing one in the 1953 film The Wild One. Although specialist pieces had been designed for riding before, this became the benchmark for biker jackets, especially in the U.S. In the U.K., however, Lewis Leathers was devising a more European feel – more fitted, longer and more blouson in style.
D. Lewis Ltd. had been in business since 1892 as a pioneering maker of clothing for early motorists and aviators; for this latter market, it even introduced its own Aviakit brand. By the 1950s, it had entered the biker clothing market with styles that defined the ‘ton up’ boys of the era – also the British ‘Rockers’ so stylistically and culturally so opposed to the scooter-riding and army-surplus parka-wearing Mods.
Two decades on, the company was reinventing the biker jacket in the most obvious way – by producing it not in the standard black or dark brown, but in bold hues. In 1972, one catalogue proclaimed ‘the colourful world of Lewis Leathers’. This heralded a brash new look for motorcyclists, although it proved to be just an interlude in fashion terms before punk rock made black the biker jacket colour of choice once more.
This jacket was featured in our first book, Vintage Menswear – A Collection from the vintage showroom. The jacket is now up for sale for the first time, available only in our online store.