We thought we’d take this opportunity to clarify a subtle yet crucial distinction between two commonly confused types of facial hair: the Fu Manchu and the Biker Mustache.
Very few people actually pull off an authentic Fu Manchu, first seen on screen in The Mystery of Dr. Fu Manchu (1923) and then on every Chinese villain ever since. The hair is grown only from the upper lip and hangs down either side of the mouth—but the sides remain clean-shaven.
The American version of the Fu Manchu has come to be known as “The Biker Mustache” or “The Horseshoe” because of its shape and popularity with modern cowboys. It consists of a full mustache with vertical extensions down to the jawline.
There’s nothing like broken-in leather. These gloves come via Scott Toepfer’s biker photoblog It’s Better in the Wind, and they’re one of the most handsome things we’ve seen all day. Of course, you probably won’t need gloves like these unless you’re riding a Harley or wrestling cattle on a regular basis—but they’re right here if you do.
One of our favorite photographers just put up a brace of photos from last weekend’s El Diablo run, a tequila-soaked gathering of motorbikes winding from Temecula, CA down through the Baja haunts of San Felipe and Ensenada. As you might expect, it’s full of tattoos, denim jackets and Harleys. Ride easy, gentlemen.
We usually have a hard time getting excited about gear that won’t be in stores for more than six months, but this one—from Schott's Perfecto brand—is the exception.
You might remember the shape as the classic Schott leather jacket, of the Ramones, Brando and a whole lot of bikers. The fabric, on the other hand, is genuine Harris Tweed, of Doctor Who, Miss Marple and a whole lot of Latin teachers.
We’re big fans of both, but we never would have imagined the quintessential biker item made from the stuffiest fabric in the UK. Needless to say, we can’t way to see this one in the wild once August rolls around.
Snagged from the new rocker compendium Or Glory, this picture shows Brad, Pete, Emma, Brian, Stuart, Steve, Dave in London circa 2001—demonstrating the timeless cool of the cuffed jean, the authority of the leather jacket, and the most dangerous possible situation in which to approach a woman. Be brave, gentlemen.
Naturally, versatility can be a mixed blessing, but if you’ve got the right tailor on board things tend to turn out ok. And it’s hard to make bike clothes uglier than they are already…
Rapha Performance Roadwear recently commissioned traveling tailor Timothy Everest to make a suit designed for bicycling, and the result is surprisingly palatable. The jacket’s lower flaps can be fastened to the pockets to keep them from flapping, and an extra length of sleeve can be rolled down to keep the wrists covered when the rider leans over the handlebars. Best of all, the pattern is a simple gray check that won’t announce itself too loudly. (Don’t be fooled by the zebra stripes; that’s just the camera).
Think of it as just one more example: tailors can do anything if they put their minds to it.
You don’t hear much about biker culture as an influence on modern day designers, partly because the references are hard to name. John Varvatos usually gets a few references to The Wild One, but that’s like tracking British suiting back to James Bond. The look had to come from somewhere…
Rin Tanaka’s Harley-Davidson Book of Fashions gives a pretty good explanation of where. Covering the 1910-1950, Tanaka tracks the evolution of the bike from a useful novelty to a badge of outsider status, along with 40 years worth of bike helmets, any one of which would be enough to get a fledgling designer noticed.
With gas prices showing no signs of slowing, we may be on the cusp of a scooter renaissance, so the book couldn’t have come at a better time. It may not have our favorite biker jacket, but it’s got more inspiration than anything we’ve seen on the racks lately.