Investigating the origin of leather pants

From rock 'n' roll staple to red carpet favorite. We list the most important milestones in the fashion history of leather pants.
October 10, 2017
  1. IT STARTED IN GREECE
    The history of women in pants dates back to ancient times. In mythology, it was during a battle between Greece and the Scythians that the Greek troops first saw women in pants and decorated armor, riding horseback and fighting alongside the men. After the Greek troops returned from battle, the pant-wearing women were immortalized on vases and murals, portrayed as fierce, chic and powerful.

  2. NATIVE AMERICANS AND THE FIRST LEATHER PANTS
    Man has been tanning and processing hides for thousands of years. In North America, archaeologists have found leather pants in ancient Native American settlements, where they had advanced methods of turning skins into soft leather garments, from moccasins to jackets and pants. When European settlers arrived, the Native Americans' use of leather pants was adopted as leather chaps that cowboys wore in the West.

  3. EVELYN KEYES IMMORTALIZED THEM ON THE BIG SCREEN
    We have to fast-forward to the 1940s and the birth of western-themed films to see the leather pants' big screen debut. One iconic picture of actress Evelyn Keyes squeezing into a pair of skinny pants on the set of Desperados (1943) showed they were actually wearable by others than cowboys.

  4. 60S ROCK STARS MADE THEM ICONIC
    Trends have always been more likely to start on a stage than on a runway. With The Rolling Stones, Elvis Presley and Jim Morrison, leather pants became synonymous with rock 'n' roll heroes. Although male rock stars dominated the charts in the 60s and 70s, there was a group of glorious women taking charge on the trend too. Icons Suzi Quatro, Marianne Faithful and Joan Jett paired their biker jackets and tank tops with tight black leather pants. 

  5. THE PUNK MOVEMENT MADE THEM A MAINSTAY
    As the 70s landed, guitar-slinging rock stars lost their sole right to wear the pants as the new rebellious subculture emerged in Britain and spread over the world. Punks were characterized by their anti-establishment views, DIY attitude and loud ways of promoting their individuality with fashion. This resulted in a badass trend involving bright neon, studded biker jackets, leopard prints, checked skirts, tons of hairspray – and leather pants.

  6.  REACHING THE RED CARPET
    By the end of the 80s, the pants were no longer seen as something exclusive for rock stars or followers of a subculture. This became a cemented fact when Claudia Schiffer and Cindy Crawford appeared in an ad wearing white T-shirts paired with the previously provocative item.

  7. RAPPERS AND 'LEATHER SWEATPANTS'
    Regardless of how much we love them, leather pants are not an easy piece of clothing to pull off. One of the biggest do's when it comes to styling (and comfort) is to opt for a slightly loose and cropped pair so they don't sag (or worse: cause you to overheat). Someone who has drawn on this is Kanye West, who launched the leather sweatpants trend in the early 2010s. Baggy and drop-crotch pants have had a moment with rappers, artists and everyone else ever since. 

Celebrate leather pants and browse our favorites below. 

THE TEAM

PHOTOGRAPHER Andreas Sjödin

DIRECTOR Andreas Sjödin

STYLING Lisa Lindqwister | Lund Lund

DOP Max Larsson

MODEL Alima Fofana | W360

HAIR Lok Lau | CLM Agency

MAKEUP Anya De Tobon | Link Details

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