Tuesday, June 14, 2016

VBL : Japanese Bomber Jackets

The bomber jacket or MA-1 flight jacket has a long and colorful history that stretches from the first world war until today. 

Although it may have started as a garment best suited for chilly, cramped cockpits, the bomber jacket has become an iconic counterculture staple. 


Now available at 188 Galerie

From vintage collections to high fashion houses, this garment has been reinterpreted in countless imaginative versions through the years. 

Bomber jackets have evolved from standard issue classics to the wardrobe staple of our current closets. 



As World War II ended and soldiers ending their tours prepared to return home and they hunted local markets for personal keepsakes from the war to take home, souvenir shopping became the priority. 

In war torn areas, enterprising locals cobbled wartime discards in inventive ways and sold them to their captured market, the stationed military surrounding their street stalls and looking for hot deals.  

The A-2 set a standard in the 1940s

MA-1 bomber/flight jacket

Known as a flight jacket or bombardier jacket, the bomber jacket was originally created for use in fighter planes, where it was crowded and cold. 

The garment featured sleek material like leather or silk and satin, it was padded for cushioning and warmth, it came fitted at the waist and cuffs but loose around the chest and abdomen. 

Embroidered souvenir jacket by Tailor Toyo

Stock image courtesy of Life Magazine

These garments were sold as popular souvenir items at gift shops in port and concession stands at base camps. The jacket is known as a Yokosuka jumper, later abbreviated to Sukajyan, which is what they’re still called in Japan today. 




The “Suka” refers to the city of Yokosuka, the largest naval base in the Far East and the “jyan” refers to a jumper or a jacket. In short, the jacket was born in the city of Yokosuka. Later conflicts in Korea and Vietnam spread this intricate embroidered style elsewhere. 




As the jackets were brought back Stateside and spread throughout Asia and Europe, they were coveted even outside the military and soon become emblematic symbols of counterculture. 



Today, the bomber jacket is an icon of style, power and leadership with everyone from presidents to rebels.