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The Schott Perfecto; The Coolest Piece of Motoring Gear Ever

Few items of clothing occupy such an undisputed corner of culture as the leather motorcycle jacket. The moment you see a black motorcycle jacket, your brain connects that jacket with the word “cool.” Leather jackets are cool – full stop. The Fonz didn’t wear a leather jacket because he rode a motorcycle; he wore one because he’s The Fonz, and The Fonz is cool. If the leather motorcycle jacket is cool, what does that make the king of leather jackets, the Schott Perfecto? Ice cold. 

The Schott Perfecto is the coolest item of clothing in the universe 

Before anyone gets too upset, The Fonz didn’t wear a Schott. I only brought him up to help establish the undeniable coolness of the leather jacket in general. If anyone needs direct proof that the Schott, specifically, is the coolest of the cool, well, look no further than one of the coolest dudes in one of the coolest films, Marlon Brando in “The Wild One.” 

Marlon Brando in The Wild One wearing a Schott Perfecto
Marlon Brando in The Wild One | Getty Images

That’s right, in maybe one of the most iconic portrayals of bikers in history, Brando rocked a crisp Schott Perfecto. This immortalized the Perfecto as not only a symbol for bikers but also an undeniable symbol of cool-a-tude. 

The Schott Perfecto came up alongside modern motorcycling 

Melvin Schott is the grandson of Irving Schott, the designer of the famous leather "Perfecto" jacket.
Melvin Schott is the grandson of Irving Schott, the designer of the famous leather “Perfecto” jacket | frederic meylan/Sygma via Getty Images

According to Silodrome, the Perfecto graced the backs of bikers starting in 1928. Irving Schott made it as the first-ever purpose-built leather jacket for motorcycles. To further prove its coolness, the Perfecto got its name from Schott’s favorite style of cigar. Come on, now; that is cooler than cool.

The Perfecto wasn’t just the coolest jacket ever, it was designed to keep riders more safe 

The Schott Perfecto was specially designed with motorcycle riders’ skin in mind. Schott made the Perfecto out of a very heavy-grained horse, and bull hide. This was meant to withstand the road rash of asphalt in hopes of preventing severe abrasions. Part of what makes the jacket safer is what makes it look so damn cool; zippers, snaps, and the belt. These aspects of the jacket are some of the most notable. They are the earmark of the Perfecto. But they aren’t just to look cool; they serve to make the jackets secure and very adjustable to keep the fit tight and immobile in the event of a crash. 

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The iconic design feature of a Schott Perfecto

While the brass snaps and waist belts are both very proud features of these jackets, the most noticeable feature is the asymmetrical front. The zipper goes in an almost diagonal offset to allow the collars to be popped up and stay that way while riding. It is another very cool-looking feature that also serves a practical purpose.

American actor and movie legend, Marlon Brando wearing a Schott Perfecto
American actor and movie legend, Marlon Brando, Robert Coburn/John Kobal Foundation/Getty Images

There are also several pockets and compartments strewn about the jacket. The diagonally-zippered breast pocket and tiny waist pouch are very cool looking, but I have yet to figure out how to use them. These jackets still come with the old “map pocket” on the inside, which for many has probably turned into a cell phone or wallet pocket in these modern times. 

The Perfecto hasn’t changed much

Although the more common leather back in the day was the heavy horsehide, these days, most Shotts are made with bull leather. Bull leather is more available and reliable these days than horsehide. Other than that, the jackets have gone largely unchanged. This is why it is still a popular jacket that has remained not only an icon in the motoring world but a beacon that exudes coolness at nearly unimaginable levels.