To celebrate the launch of Thomas Pink’s knitted Merino wool zipped bomber, we take a deep dive into the rich history of this classic garment and how it’s transitioned from the cockpit to the runway.
There is no piece of clothing better suited to the silver screen than the bomber jacket. Having clothed some of cinema’s top heart-throbs and testosterone-fuelled protagonists over the decades, the iconic militarystyle jacket has long influenced style-conscious men and women across the globe. When Lieutenant Pete “Maverick” Mitchell returned to our screens in 2022 for the hotly anticipated Top Gun sequel, the highoctane aerial dogfights barely held a candle to the Mav-approved aviator look donned by screen legend Tom Cruise and newcomer Miles Teller.
The reason we haven’t been able to shake the bomber jacket from our wardrobes is not only because of its Hollywood credentials, but also because it is a true style icon. Throughout the history of fashion, the best staple pieces seem to be ones that grow out of functional necessity, and the bomber is no exception.
“Bomber jackets”, as we’ve come to refer to them, were originally called “flight jackets”. Unlike the outerwear staple we know and love today, the primary objective of the flight jacket wasn’t to look good. They were initially created by the US Army Aviation Clothing Board in 1917 to keep World War I pilots warm in the open-air cockpits of the early propeller fighter planes. The jackets were bulky by design, made from thick leather and shearling. However, owing to the rapid growth of aviation technology during the inter-war years, the design quickly evolved and the A-1 was born.
Introduced into the army in 1927, the A-1 swapped out leather for a knit waistband and cuffs, which not only provided insulation from the cold, but also gave it a flattering fit. When the upgraded MA-1 jacket was released in the 1950s, the fur collar was scrapped for a knitted one, and the previous material for modern nylon. In addition, the jacket was made in a camo print that mirrored ground vegetation more closely.
By the late 60s, the MA-1 bomber was popping up in wardrobes across Europe. Its wide-ranging appeal meant that the jacket became the uniform of society’s youth, including ravers, queer communities, activists and punks, who either embraced or subverted its hyper-masculine connotations. Naturally, the popularity of this piece caught the attention of luxury designers and fashion houses, hitting the big time in the late 90s thanks to the likes of Raf Simons and Issey Miyake. Indeed, for over a century, fashion designers have taken the iconic bomber silhouette and remodelled it using different materials and colours.
Thomas Pink’s knitted Merino wool zipped bomber continues to reshape and redefine this outerwear classic. While our version remains loyal to the original MA-1 design in the knitted accents, the traditional silhouette is reimagined to allow for a sleek, minimalistic look. It is also made from light, breathable wool, making it perfect for any season and occasion. Taking a step away from the ubiquitous military green, our designers have opted for the muted tones of black, olive, navy and camel.
The bomber jacket has stood the test of time, both on- and off-screen. And when it comes to navigating style and performance, it’s a true maverick.