Featured Brand: Schott
This week, we're excited to debut a leather jacket UO made in collaboration with Schott, sold online exclusively at Urban Outfitters. Combining the classic Schott look with an updated UO flair, the result is a timeless jacket that'll look good for years to come. (And we mean years - these bad boys are built to last.) After falling in love with the Schott x UO jacket immediately after getting our hands on it, we wanted to dig more into the history of Schott to find out exactly where our favorite leather jackets got their start.
Joey Ramone, wearing Schott
Founder Irving Schott
Various styles of Schott jackets
After reading about Schott for no more than five minutes, we discovered that, chances are, even if you’re not too deeply versed on the brand's backstory, you’ve seen one of your favorite musicians wearing a Schott Perfecto jacket at one point or another (including on an album cover – hi, Bruce). They're the quintessential American leather jacket, made popular by movie stars and musicians. People overseas know the brand Schott the way Americans know Kleenex - it's become the standard for leather jackets. The company has been around for the last 100 years (since 1913, to be exact), so they've had a long time to build their brand. That's over a century of jackets! Their most popular design, the Perfecto, named for founder Irving Schott’s favorite cigar, was one of the company’s first designs and continues to be produced to this day. An innovative company from the beginning, Schott’s legacy doesn't lie solely with their leather designs - they were also the first company ever to put a zipper on a jacket. Talk about trailblazers.
MCA of The Beastie Boys, wearing Schott
The Schott factory
While the company and their jackets are something of a commodity (and cool-guy status) in 2014, that wasn't always the case. When Schott was just starting out, the coats were positively received but were mainly used by bikers and the military in a utilitarian way up through the '40s. In 1954, though, all of that changed. Marlon Brando donned the Perfecto for The Wild One and, unsurprisingly, having a handsome, young actor wear the coat in a (soon-to-be) cult classic movie made the general public want to get their hands on one, too - even if they weren't bikers. What was surprising, though, was that even after the jacket became the coat to have, the company found that sales decreased – schools were banning the coats for their “bad boy” connotation. (Which is so badass.) As time went on, this image ideally worked in the company’s favor; in the ‘70s and ‘80s, punk rockers embraced the jacket’s outsider status and Schott soon became an important component of the punk rock movement. Look up any picture of The Ramones and you’ll likely see them decked out in Schott.
To this day, Schott is still run by the same Schott family out of the US, and each leather jacket remains tailored by hand – something of a rarity for such a widely produced company in this day and age.
Dee Dee Ramone, wearing Schott
SCHOTT IN MUSIC AND POPULAR CULTURE
After Marlon Brando wore the Schott Perfecto in The Wild One, the jacket became significantly more prominent in popular culture. Around the same time, James Dean was also rarely seen without his Perfecto; when he died an untimely death in 1955 due to a car accident, the coat became even more of a symbol for rebelliousness.
Fast-forward to 1974 - at The Ramones first live show, the entire band showed up wearing Schott leather jackets. This was the brand's first foray into the punk music scene and The Ramones ensured that Schott would be well-respected within that community for years to come; Blondie, The Beastie Boys, Joan Jett, Johnny Rotten and Lou Reed have all been photographed wearing their Schott leather jackets. There's even a rumor that good ol' Fonzie wore a Perfecto in the first season of Happy Days, so it's pretty much guaranteed that you become the coolest person in the world as soon as you throw on a Schott.
Recently, Schott has partnered with artists like Jeremy Scott to produce custom jackets and they show no signs of slowing down any time soon. Schott and their coats are here to stay and we'll be here to wear 'em.
The Ramones, all wearing Schott
Marlon Brando, wearing Schott
Book images originally published with permission and © Schott NYC: 100 Years of an American Original by Rin Tanaka, 2013. Image of storefront, factory and Irving Schott all provided courtesy of Schott.