In the Market Report: Cream of the “Crop”

YSL Slim Fit black Leather biker Jacket $3,340
(Click on images for larger views)
The cropped leather motorcycle jacket has been such an iconic wardrobe staple throughout the years, it’s a cliché (albeit a good cliché). And it’s been all but ubiquitous, thanks in good part to the Metropolitan Museum’s Costume Institute Exhibition, “Punk: Chaos to Couture”, where it was front row center and glorified in all its dizzying variety: from the streetwise to the couture (the exhibit closes on Wednesday, August 14th). In Bill Cunningham’s “On the Street” column this past Sunday, dubbed “Well Tanned”, he focused on the surprise appearance of black leather on the streets of New York, even on the hottest days of the summer, and included some pictures of women wearing their beloved black leather biker’s vests and jackets.
Balmain padded biker jacket $3396.59

It’s easy to understand their ongoing appeal: small, brief, compact, and to the point, they are proof that “good things come in small packages” and “brevity is the soul of wit”. Their abbreviated length and clean lines, makes them practical, versatile, season less, universally flattering, easy to wear, perfect for packing and layering, and they can be worn both day and evening. Plus, they add that ‘edge’ that somehow, you don’t get with a traditional blazer or cardigan (you don’t have to be innately ‘cool’ to look ‘cool’ wearing one). They could not be more perfect for this time of year: a transitional moment somewhere in between summer and fall, especially since the temperatures have been moderating and there’s a noticeable chill in the air.

Forever21 “Street Femme Moto jacket” $42.50

It’s been hard not to notice how abundantly available they are, in a myriad of incarnations. From the classic to the ‘tweaked’, there are endless variations on the theme, and at every price point, ranging from $22.80 at for more info to the “stratosphere” and beyond, depending on the label and the fabrication. While leather is the standard fare, they are also available in faux leather (or trimmed with faux leather), wool and wool blends, nubbly tweeds, denim, silks, quilted microfiber and polyester, and high tech fabrics. And while black, white, or ivory, are most common, they look pretty great in shades of blue, or even, in graphic color blocks or bold stripes.

 McQ by Alexander McQueen’s sharply tailored grey fleece wool
 cropped peplum jacket  $881

This is a sampling of some that have caught my eye in a rather crowded playing field (by virtue or price and/or design): Forever 21’s Street-Femme Moto Jacket in ivory faux leather, $42.50; Michael Michael Kors gunmetal tweed zip jacket, $195 at for more info; Club Monaco’s Rory black wool blend moto jacket with black leather trim, $289, their Kaylan Jacket, $269, in a dark quilted navy wool blend trimmed in black faux leather with distinctive gold zippers, and their silk blend Tamia jacket featuring wide horizontal black & white stripes, $259 at for more info ; Burberry Brit’s cropped black quilted polyester biker jacket trimmed in black leather, and their cropped dark navy military inspired jacket made of a wool twill blend, which features gold toned metal snaps, zippers, and epaulets, both $795 at for more info;

Rick Owens hooded leather biker jacket

Rick Owens’ face framing black leather biker jacket made of slick Italian leather, $2325, and his hooded icy gray leather biker jacket, $2175 at for more info; Saint Laurent’s sleek black leather biker jacket, $5290 at for more info/; J Brand’s  Konnix jacket in blueberry (a fabulous shade of blue that is quite neutral and looks great with black), $1495, and their Karle jacket in black, $1795, both with versatile fold over collars, at for more info
;  McQ by Alexander McQueen’s sharply tailored grey fleece wool cropped peplum jacket, $881 at for more info ; Balmain sharply tailored padded black polyester biker jacket, $3396.59 at for more info and his quilted denim motorcycle jacket at for more info.

The iconic Courreges cropped vinyl logo jacket from the 1960’s

But no discussion about distinctive cropped jackets would be complete without mentioning the iconic Courreges snap front vinyl jacket made famous in the 60’s. In 2012, the fabled house celebrated its 50th anniversary, and marked the occasion with a limited edition, 50-piece release of its signature vinyl jacket in the Paris concept store Colette. At the same time, Jacques Bungert and Frédéric Torloting, bought the company from André and his wife Coqueline Courrèges, with a five year perfume license in place to re-launch the house’s scents, eyewear, luggage, and home furnishings.  And they wasted no time in launching an e-commerce site,, stocked with updated Courrèges classics from its 1960s heyday such as cropped vinyl jackets and A-line dresses. Up until that time, these pieces were only available via a flagship store in Paris and Jeffrey in New York (Jeffrey does not have any stock right now but they are awaiting their fall delivery). The originals are getting harder and harder to find, but they are available from time to time on websites like ,, and; and is selling the reproductions in limited quantities (they currently have black, white, neon yellow, fluorescent red, $1235).

Lisa Perry Snazzy Jacket

By the way, along those same “lines”, Lisa Perry, is a designer and avid vintage collector, whose aesthetic is all about the mod 60’s. Her treasure trove of vintage Courreges jackets are admittedly, among her most beloved pieces, and they served as inspiration for the Snazzy Jacket, in black crinkled patent, $1195 at for info .

– Marilyn Kirschner

Marilyn Kirschner

I am a long time fashion editor with 40+ years of experience. As senior market of Harper's Bazaar for 21 years I met and worked with every major fashion designer in the world and covered all of the collections in Paris, London, Milan and New York. I was responsible for overall content, finding and pulling in the best clothes out there, and for formulating ideas and stories.

1 Comment
  1. It is great that all these jackets are made easily available at the designers' ecommerce sites. Many people would definitely appreciate this service because not everyone likes the idea of visiting a physical store just to go grab an overpriced jacket. Furthermore, for individuals like me who are a little insecure about the glares that I often get from the sales personnel at the designer boutiques are enough to keep me sticking to my preference for the ecommerce platform.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.