‘Bomber jackets,’ as we’ve come to refer to them today, were originally known as ‘flight jackets’ and were created by the US Army Aviation Clothing Board in 1917 to keep WWI pilots warm in the uninsulated, open-air cockpits of the early fighter planes.
Between the two World Wars, flight jacket design evolved alongside aviation advancements. With cockpits becoming closed, narrower and encumbered with technology, new styles were introduced namely, the leather US Army Type A-1 in 1927. The A-1 had a knit waistband and cuffs, which not only insulated the jacket from cold air, but gave it a particularly flattering fit, high on the waist. The A-1 laid the groundwork for the modern bomber jacket we know today with its knitted collar, cuffs and waistband (though the 1927 A-1 had a button-up closure).
The A-1 was followed by the A-2 —now with a zip closure— and then the B-15 going into WWII followed by the upgraded MA-1 model, which appeared around 1949-1950 and that ultimately set a new standard for functional outerwear. Beyond its American military associations, the MA-1 had the added benefit of withstanding temperatures of 14 to 50 degree Fahrenheit — making it an ideal lightweight fall-to-spring jacket. It is regarded as one of the earliest designs to truly bridge the gap between military and civilian wear and like many a fashion trend, it definitively took flight when seen garbed by Hollywood style icons such as Humphrey Bogart in Tokyo Joe (1949), Marlon Brando in A Streetcar Named Desire (1951) and James Dean in Rebel Without a Cause (1955), just to name a few.
And in more recent cinema, you may recall Tom Cruise making hearts throb as a bomber jacket-donning pilot in Top Gun, while the silk scorpion bomber worn by Ryan Gosling in Drive became the film’s most iconic image and was said to be“The Jacket That Made Ryan Gosling a Style Hero,” according to GQ.
The style attributes of a bomber jacket (generally) include a cropped length, looser arms and shoulders, and ribbed collars, waistbands and cuffed sleeves.
Bombers can be made in a variety of materials and cuts that reflect the outwear’s ability to work with any one’s style. The Michael Andrews’ more elevated and sophisticated take on the bomber is first introduced in lamb suede (with a thinsulate lining to take you through the seasons) but stay tuned for visuals of the design in fabrics such as wool, tweed, and waterproof/ performance fabrics. If you already have a vision for your perfect bomber in fabric besides lamb suede, contact one of our stylists, and we can bring it to life.