First developed in the 1950’s, the MA-1 bomber jacket was intended for use as a flight jacket on jet aircrafts, to keep pilots warm and comfortable. The unique orange lining was designed to make it easy for other pilots to spot if another pilot had crash landed and be able to locate them immediately.
Today, the MA-1 bomber jacket has been adapted repeatedly for modern styles, though many still wear the original style as it is seen as a symbol of mod culture after it became a popular choice for skinheads in the 1970s.
Worn by pilots
Before the jet aircraft, pilots often wore thick sheepskin jackets that could keep them warm at high altitudes, but when the jet came along and reached new heights, the sheepskin leather jacket would often get wet and then freeze over, making the pilots even more cold and uncomfortable than before.
It was also a matter of space. With the new, advanced technology, there was less space in the cockpit and the bulky sheepskin jackets were no longer a suitable choice.
The MA-1 bomber jacket was made of nylon, which did not absorb water like the old flying jackets. It was heavily insulated and malleable, which meant the pilot was more comfortable during the flight. Because of the clever use of materials, the bomber jacket kept pilots warm in freezing temperatures, and this did not go unnoticed by the fashion industry.
MA-1 bomber jackets in the mainstream
The high quality design that kept the wearer warm in such extreme temperatures attracted the attention of the police and special forces who frequently worked outside in very cold weather.
Other industries such as security also started wearing the MA-1 bomber jacket first as a means of keeping out the cold, but this soon became symbolic of strength and power, and was adapted by punks and skinheads in the 1970s.
Often paired with a tucked-in shirt, drainpipe jeans and Dr. Martens boots, the MA-1 bomber jacket was the final stylish touch to any skinhead outfit which not only kept them extremely warm but also identified them as part of a significant sub-culture in the 1970s.
The bomber jacket was adapted by the mainstream in the 1980s, and became a popular choice of jacket, though it was adapted and changed in ways to suit all sorts of style and for every type of weather. The signature orange lining is a great way to identify an MA-1 from any other type of bomber jacket, and is often worn by those who want to nod to the original style.
MA-1 bomber jackets in the modern day
While the structure of the jacket remains similar to the original MA-1 design, creating a puffy, rounded silhouette, high street brands and designers have adapted the jacket into a wide range of colours, materials and lengths to suit different body shapes and trends.
It has even been adapted to be a super lightweight jacket, quite the opposite of its original purpose, with designers such as Celine mimicking the original design but with expensive, eye-catching materials and a hefty price tag.
Despite the range in adaptations, the MA-1 bomber jacket is still worn by many, particularly security staff and ex-punk/skinheads that still want to identify themselves as part of mod culture, but with a more modern approach.
Should you be wearing one?
There’s no doubt that this jacket is perfect for the winter months due to its thick lining and waterproof qualities that make for the perfect shield against freezing temperatures. If you are looking for a high-quality jacket that will keep you warm and dry through the winter months then this is the jacket for you.
You don’t have to be part of mod culture (or a pilot!) to wear one of these jackets as they are available in a wide range of colours that are both bold and subtle. If you want to go for the classic, vintage look then opting for the green outer shell with orange lining is a simple and easy way to add some retro style to your wardrobe. If you are after a more subtle jacket but with all the qualities of the MA-1, then a dark colour such as black could be the choice for you.
You don’t have to search far and wide to find one either. They are widely available in high street shops and online, although if you want to purchase the original MA-1 design then shopping at a retro store or even searching for a genuine vintage jacket would be the best way of finding your dream bomber jacket.
Now you know the history of the MA-1, hopefully, you have learned just how durable and warm this jacket really is, and will agree that this is the perfect jacket for winter. It’s true that technology has come a long way since the 1950’s and there are lots of coats and jackets available that will keep you warm in the cold winter months, but the MA-1 has stood the test of time and is still very popular today.