I've had a lot of nights in my life, many of which I can't fully remember and I've been a lot of places, most which I will never see again. Through it all, there's only one thing that's been a constant and that's the jacket. Maybe its because I grew up in the northern Pennsylvania, stumbling through blizzards every other day but the jacket becomes a permanent staple. Like it or not, we are a superficial society. People start remembering you by that appearance and it becomes a part of who you are. This isn't a bad thing, but you should take the time to consider it. My jacket has saved me from typical (rain, hail, sleet, snow, dust, dirt, etc.) More importantly, its saved me from not so typical things ( rocks, beer, piss, puke, blood, fire, cornfields, the police, boring people, etc.) Wingman my ass, the jacket has saved me quite a bit. And I've had mine for nearly a decade, that's a lot of saves,....... especially the fire. I think those are good enough reasons to have one, but if you need some more than here you go.
Going to the local pub- no problem, going to a nice dinner- no problem, in the woods- no problem. You can't wear it to a wedding, but otherwise your looking pretty good. Leather jackets are acceptable in almost all social settings and are ideal for someone who can benefit from a high level of functionality, such as the world traveler. Adventuring requires you to get your fill of both countryside as well as urban environments, especially in foreign countries.
Overall the jacket gives you the freedom to do whatever you want. Maybe its just me but I would find myself starting downtown and by the end of the night I was at a barn fire, in the middle of a coalfield, or at a country house. If you move around like that it helps a lot since the rest of your clothes probably aren't going to be helping you once you end up outside, especially if you started downtown. And yes, these were the best pictures I could get as examples, I'm disappointed too.
I found the jacket helped me blend in to the European scene a little better since they generally dress more formally than we do. At home, people will wonder why your "all dressed up?" And you'll be wearing jeans. The dude telling you this will most likely be in Wal-Mart on a mobile scooter straining to hold his weight with piss stained sweatpants on.
The History Buff
During both WWI and WWII leather jackets were worn. Nazi Officers, U.S. Army Commanders, and Russian Soldiers all wore them. In fact nearly every military force utilized leather in one form or another, especially aviators due to the unmatched protection the jacket offered against the elements. One of the most famous American military icons to perpetuate this was General Patton. The jacket was immortalized in popular culture through numerous films and solidified in the American psyche as troops returned home from war as American heroes.
After the population growth following WWII, the "baby boomer generation" found themselves in a deeply conformed and regimented society. Ironically, the leather jacket was taken up by teens, becoming a symbol of the cultural (heroic/anti-heroic) embodiment of social rebellion and discontent (greasers eras). Following the leather jacket becoming a new installment in youth culture, it was galvanized by the advent of "Rock and Roll" with sensations such as Elvis and The Beatles.
It isn't everyday that a article of clothing has stood as such a social symbol. From ancient history, to the most pivotal moments in the 20th century, and into the 21st century the leather jacket continues to re-define itself. With this in mind, it really is a blank canvas for which the owner paints the picture. Whether it is conscious or not, American society looks to the leather jacket for social and cultural ques about itself. The people wearing them are painting that picture through their actions and words. I have said it before in previous blogs; I want to be a part of that history, after your gone the jacket could still be laying around. We really don't live that long after all; 80-100yrs is a drop in the bucket of time and space.
Holbrook’s framework relies on the consumer’s relationship with the object in question and seeks to address multi-modal reasoning in the values attached to the black leather jacket. Two perspectives are self and other; within each there are two additional perspectives of active and reactive. These four perspectives combine with extrinsic and intrinsic orientations to equal eight categories. Collectively these eight categories provide a summary framework for a comprehensive study of consumer. The chart provided in the study makes this a bit easier to understand . The values are ( Extrinsic vs. Intrinsic)(Active vs. Reactive)(Self vs. Other).
The first of these is (Extrinsic vs. Intrinsic) value. Extrinsic means-end relationship, where the value lies in a product’s functional, utilitarian service as a means to accomplish some further purpose, such as using a screwdriver to drive in a screw, buying a meal to satisfy hunger, or purchasing an automobile to fulfill transportation needs.Conversely the other value, Intrinsic value, is a consumption experience appreciated as an end in and of itself, such as a day at the beach or listening to a symphony. Intrinsic value is an experience that achieves no other end but enjoyment . This is basically wearing the jacket because one enjoys wearing it, without any reason besides it makes them happy or it is an enjoyable activity.
Next is (Self vs. Other). Self, relates to how the individual owner reacts to the product or the specific value they receive from the item. Examples included clothing providing warmth and comfort to the wearer or music providing listening pleasure to the listener. Other relates to placing value on the item for the impression it gives to others or external subject. Examples of this would be owning a Mercedes because it impresses others or portrays wealth or buying a hybrid car because it helps save the environment .
Last, is (Active vs. Reactive). Active relates to a physical manipulation of, something done to, or with the product such as driving a car or solving a puzzle. It is directly related to the enjoyment one gets from the functional action of the product. Reactive relates to the enjoyment one receives from appreciating, admiring, or otherwise responding to the object. Examples of this include appreciating a painting or assessing the quality of a camera. Others would include cleaning/waxing your car or organizing a prized collection of items, cards, books, coins. The enjoyment of the consumer stems from the experience the product can provide by owning it .
Ultimately, the study showed that previous generations had worn the jacket as a total embodiment of they're persona and a representation of they're lifestyle. It was a item showing that the wearer was part of a sub-culture in society. The majority of contemporary wearers do not report this association with the jacket. They find value in the overall practicalities and functionality of the jacket. However, respondents still cited the leather jacket as an "escape" or a "freedom" from the conventional lives which they live. While the leather jacket is now worn by almost everyone, not just bikers, it still resonates as a symbol of freedom, individuality, and adventure in the American psyche . I find it fascinating to wear something that has such a rich historical background. Plus, what better to adventure the world with than the jacket that has embodied it for well over a century.
While its not a perfect analogy, I like to think of a leather jacket like a tattoo. I know your thinking, Hey guy, you can't take a tattoo off, but slow your roll for a minute. The point I am getting at is that in light of the leather jacket's deep historical connections and cultural impact, it is a defining symbol in someone's life and in part, becomes a representation of "who they are". Even after someone no longer wears their "old leather jacket" it is still holds the memory of that person. It is not uncommon for people to hold onto their jackets for a very long time after they stop wearing them. Why do you think that is? I would propose its because its more than a jacket to them and represents parts of who they are or once were.
Taking that jacket and handing it down to a son or daughter tells a story about your life and is a recognition to the person getting it that they have reached a level of independence and autonomy from their parents or guardians. They are being entrusted with something that has stood the test of time and represents the nature of the generation before them.
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