From Marlon Brando’s iconic double-breasted ‘One Star’ jacket in 1953's The Wild Ones to James Dean, Easy Rider and Brigitte Bardot, biker chic has maintained a defiant allure since its commercial birth in the 1950s. The decade saw a counterculture of rolled denim, heavy boots and leather born off the back of Californian motorcycle gangs, which later progressed into Rock ‘n’ Roll and punk.
Phillip Lim’s A/W13 collection was inspired by bikers, or rather the girlfriends of bikers; the groomed sidekick to the hell’s angel. “Marianne Faithfull, Anita Pallenberg, Francoise Hardy,” cites Lim. There is a seductive appeal in the masculinity of the biker uniform worn on the female frame; a feisty note of rebellion with an air of femininity. “It was their spirit,” Lim explains, “They were effectively like groupies but much more committed to the cause.” The collection taps into the autobiographical appeal of a biker’s wardrobe; their clothing embodies the road they have travelled through badges, pins and patches, layered up and thrown on with a cool nonchalance representative of the Phillip Lim label, summarised by the name of the collection, Sono Mama, which translates to “as you are” in Japanese. Here AnOther breaks down the five codes to achieving biker chic.
1. A leather jacket
The staple piece in any biker wardrobe and the lynchpin to the style, the leather jacket was originally based on the A-1 jacket used by the Army Air Corp prior to WWII. It became adopted by motorcycle gangs, progressing into a key piece within the look. “I think that the way they wear and travel with you through life is really important,” explains Lim, “I am very interested in pieces that tell stories and I think a leather jacket, specifically a biker or rider version, can tell a thousand.”
"There is a seductive appeal in the masculinity of the biker uniform worn on the female frame"
A shirt, a jumper, a coat, multiple collars, a sleeveless leather jacket. Biker chic builds up layers to place an effortless casual notch on each outfit. Slouchy jumpers worn over patterned shirts, teamed with lapelled coats and fur jackets. ”It goes back to a state of mind for sure, but also the ceremony in the look. There is a real utilitarian commitment to looking a certain way that intrigues me," Lim says.
3. Biker boots
From ankle length to over-the-knee, in brown, black and grey leather. Part equestrian, part grunge, the heavy-tread boots create a hardened edge.
Biker chic has always had a D.I.Y appeal, collated from pin and badge-covered denim and moto jackets. The 3.1 Phillip Lim collection features a badge assemblage on denim, running down trouser legs and emblazoned across jumpers, culminating with a denim all-in-one. “The badged denim pieces were a nod to the idea of collecting along the way – like a scrap book of travels assembled together in a trophy,” explains Lim, summarising the biographical symbolism of the badged effect; collected, personal emblems idiosyncratic to the wearer.
A hybrid between the badge and the ragged edge, Lim’s patchwork composition of fur, leather, jersey and print act as a key note within biker chic. A progression from his S/S13 Cut Up approach, contrasting lapels and collage trousers are key, alongside two-tone shirts and geometric cuts. “I always like to pay particular attention to how fabrics play alongside each other, the weights and how they work with life. They are all functional fabrics that can be worn in life, nothing is too fantastical.”
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Text by Mhairi Graham