Back in the 1920’s jackets used for motorcycle riding were the aviator, military style jackets. These were very popular to use from the World War II supply. They were constructed out of goatskin and horsehide. The hides were readily available prior to World War II because the army Calvary and most farmers used horses and provided hides from their stock to the clothing industry.
The first manufactured motorcycle jackets came from the Schott Company which opened in 1913 and started producing jackets for motorcycles in the 1920’s. Later in 1933, a company in Detroit called The Joseph Buegeleisen Company, who was producing accessories for motorcycles, got into the business of making leather jackets for motorcyclists. That officially started in the 1940’s. They later went bankrupt in 1953.
Harley Davidson, who started business in 1910, has supplied quality leather jackets for the motorcycle industry. In the 1940’s they branded two versions, the “Cycle Champ” for men and the “Cycle Queen” for women. It was a popular style and fit.
Over the years motorcycle jackets have taken on a lot of pockets. That seemed to be what the market wanted. The “pistol pocket” holster shaped on the Harley jackets was a popular one, along with a backside pocket.
The Marlon Brando movie “The Wild Ones” popularized motorcycle jackets. Manufacturers couldn’t produce them fast enough.
Aside from the look and style that people like, leather jackets have provide protection from the elements, as well as the pavement, in the event of laying your bike down.