The ‘Souvenir’ Bomber Jacket Returns To Fashion

The bomber jacket gets its origins in post-war Japan when American troops had designs sewn onto their jackets during their service.  Dubbed the “souvenir” jacket, badges and embroideries of bright, ornately hand-crafted designs, mixing both Eastern and Western themes, featured Japanese (and even Chinese) dragons, tigers, cherry blossoms and trees which sat side-by-side with American eagles, military iconography and phraseology.

And thanks to brands like Gucci, Saint Laurent, and Dries van Noten the souvenir jacket makes a return to fashion as a craze sparked by celebrity street style.

Gucci spring 2016 Campaign
Kate Moss in a satin bomber jacket (2016)
Kanye West in Saint Laurent Paris spring 2016 satin bomber jacket

Today’s offerings feature 70s Japanese-inspired embroidery, badges and allover designs. Most popular are the collared and quilted satin bombers (in the past they were crafted sometimes from excess parachute silk) with varsity-style shawl collars.

The satin bomber jacket variations seen at shows like Louis Vuitton are now poised to become the signature piece of the season, especially those that are embroidered or meshed.

Louis Vuitton spring 2016 satin bomber jacket
Former One Direction band member Zayn Malik, of Britain, poses in Louis Vuitton satin bomber from the spring/summer 2016 collection

But if that’s all too floral for you, the thinly padded MA1 bomber-style jacket, which was also seen across the spring/summer 2016 runways, is an equally easy and effortless nod to utilitarian minimalism.

Rihanna in a FK styes qomens classic style zip up MA1 bomber jacket

Spotted heavily on the backs of Hollywood characters who have sported them in the past such as James Dean and Marilyn Monroe, the appeal of the jacket lies in how it can be changed to suit the needs of the wearer.

Marilyn Monroe looks fab in a B15c bomber jacket with fur lapel

For spring 2016 the bomber has this season been crafted from luxe fabrics like satin and lace, as well as embroidered or embellished by the likes of Marni and Jonathan Saunders for a seriously decadent take on this perma-trend.


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Nichelle Cole is the founder & editor-in-chief of The Fashion Plate magazine. A respected writer, stylist and influencer, she has been published in fashion magazines around the world.

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