What is the history of bulletproof vests (or bombers)?
There is no lack of showcases for major brands such as ZARA, Hugo Boss or Benetton. You might even have more than one in your closet!
It’s not a current trend, it’s a military-inspired piece with almost a century of history.
What are Bomber Vests?
Flight, aviator or bomber jackets reflect the changes in the aviation industry since the beginning of the 20th century. The design and materials have evolved to adapt to the characteristics of the aircraft.
The first pilot or aviator jackets arose from a practical need. The first helicopters of the early 20th century did not have an enclosed cabin and the temperature during flight could be very low, so pilots needed warm clothing to keep them warm during the flight.
In The First World War
In 1917 – during World War I – the US Army distributed jackets to pilots, made of leather lined with fur.
They had high collars with a zip fastening, as well as adjustable waists and collars. It was dark blue, the background of what would become bomber jackets (but their design still needed to be changed).
In 1927 another jacket, called the A1, also intended for pilots, began to be manufactured, and in 1931 it became the A2.
In the Second World War
Jet aviation was a protagonist during the Second World War (1939-1945). These planes were able to fly at higher altitudes and in cooler conditions. B15 leather jackets can get wet in rain or sweat and freeze in the cold.
Also, the booths are now closed but smaller. Pilots needed other types of clothing to adapt to these new conditions. The thinnest and lightest, but at the same time warm down jackets. The B-15 Jacket was the answer, according to hypebeast.com.
Discovered in 1935, nylon was already used during World War II, but parachutes take precedence over flight suits.
However, since 1945, nylon has become the main material for making bulletproof vests, due to its lightness and good properties. It was resistant to water, mildew, bugs and sweat.
In 1949, the B-15 jacket was updated to the MA-1 version, which is the most classic and imitated version ever since. They are what we now call bomber vests.
Its design represents a new adaptation of developments in aeronautical technology. Aircraft cabins were better insulated from the temperature. It is no longer necessary to wear a thick fur collar.
Instead, it was replaced with a small ribbed round neck that left more room for the parachute straps.
During these years, the orange inlay was added. If a pilot is involved in a plane crash, the pilot can turn the jacket inside out to be more visible at the time of rescue.
The MA-1 jacket changed color in the 1950s for the Korean War and also during the 1960s for the Vietnam War, using shades of khaki green and beige. The colors were more in keeping with the environment of the conflict sites.
Several clothing companies began designing the MA-1 or bomber jacket.
Because it is a light and practical piece, it was easily introduced in the market and was successful. Today, many years after their inception, bomber jackets still hold a prominent role as a fashion staple.