The bomber jacket is one of those fashions we trace back really to the 1980s when we think about the origins of its popularity. These jackets were fashionable, but they also protected you from the elements, as they were thick and made of very durable leather material.
Sometimes thought of as a fashion for rebellious bikers and “bad boys”, bomber jackets were also popular as casual wear for just about anyone, and surprisingly even for women in the 1980s.
The bomber jacket, which is also known simply as a flight jacket, was specifically created for military pilots. Over the decades, the bomber jacket has gone through many different changes in cut and material, and while there are many different styles of flight jackets, the two that remain the most popular are the A-2 and the G-1.
The A-2 bomber jacket was specifically designed for the Air Force while the G-1 was designed for the U.S. Navy. They were part of the regular uniform of pilots up until 1978 when it was dropped due to popular demand in the civilian sector. Rather than overwhelming the supply system of the US military, U.S. Congress decided to cancel the use of both jackets.
While bomber jackets are still very popular today, they reached the height of their popularity in the mid-1980s. Over the years, bomber jackets have appeared in a number of popular films, but it wasn’t until Tom Cruise put on a leather G-1 bomber jacket for his role in the film Top Gun, that the bomber jacket became a staple of the 1980s fashion industry.
80s Bomber Jackets
Bomber Jackets had been around for decades before they reached the height of their popularity in the 1980s. They were used of course by our military pilots, and they were just thought of as jackets that were more functional than fashionable.
However in the 1980s that all changed. Many 80s movies began featuring bomber jackets that were worn by the cool and rebellious characters, and the masses wanted to emulate that.
The film Top Gun was released in May 1986. In the lead role, Tom Cruise played Lieutenant Pete “Maverick” Mitchell who was sent to the Top Gun Naval Academy. While attending the Naval Flight Weapon School, Tom Cruise along with Nick “Goose” Bradshaw, his Radar Intercept Officer, sought to prove that he was the best fighter pilot in the world.
Throughout most of the film, Tom Cruise could be seen sporting a leather bomber jacket, as was customary for naval aviators of the time. You could argue that Tom Cruise is solely responsible for ushering in the popularity of the bomber jacket (as well as Ray-Ban Sunglasses) to the mainstream masses during the 1980s.
G-1 Bomber Jacket
The most popular bomber jacket of the 1980s was known as the G-1. This was this same jacket that was sported by Tom Cruise in the 1986 film, Top Gun. It is a leather jacket that features a fur-lined collar.
This particular jacket was originally designed for use in the Navy, Coast Guard, and Marine Corps during World War II. And although Congress canceled the bomber jacket in 1978, it was still a popular choice for aviators in the 1980s and early 1990s.
Different From The “Letterman Jacket”
Unfortunately sometimes the very popular Letterman jacket is often confused with the bomber jacket. In fact, the two are often interchanged with one another, though incorrectly so. The reason for this is that both of the jackets are structured using the same type of cut, which is known as the MA-1.
While some will argue that they are very different, this argument comes down to the fact that bomber jackets are one color while Letterman jackets typically have two coordinating colors. For this reason they are classified as different fashions.
Are Bomber Jackets Still Popular?
It may have been Tom Cruise who inspired the 1980s fashion trend, but even decades after the release of the film, the bomber jacket is still a very popular style.
Over the years, many different variations of the jacket have been produced, although current variations are composed of nylon and other synthetics rather than leather.
Even though they are not as popular as they once were in the 1980s, the bomber jacket can still be seen worn time to time by celebrities, and we don’t expect this timeless fashion to go out of style any time soon.