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From the Perfecto and the café racer to the engineer boot and the competition sweater, mid-century rebel style took shape where the rubber met the road and man and machine were pushed to their limits.

Sturdy and straight-shooting, the engineer boot provides a muscular and aggressive touch that even the best lace up boots can’t quite equal. Few items in the rebel’s wardrobe have as much throttle-twisting bravado as a pair of engineer boots, and few age as beautifully as a well-made pair.

If you’re ready to hit the road and want the best, look for WescoJohn LofgrenClinchJohn Lofgren, or Role Club on the label. If you’re on a budget, Red Wing Heritage will be your best bet.

Illustration by Florian Bayer

Illustration by Florian Bayer

One of the pieces that properly kickstarted the rebel revolution, the Perfecto remains the quintessentially defiant leather jacket. It’ll rebel against whatever you got. If you’ve got the boots, the jeans, and the tee, the Perfecto will perfect the look.

For almost a century, Schott and Lewis Leathers have been serving up relatively affordable versions for nearly a century. Shoddily constructed versions come a dime a dozen, but if you’re looking for an heirloom piece, look no further than Real McCoy’s Buco label, Double HelixNine Lives, or The Flat Head.

Dehen's competition sweater

Its moment in the sun was all-too brief, but, in the early days of motorcycle racing, it burned brightly. Its role in the development of motorcycle style pre-dating the introduction of leather to the scene earned the competition sweater a place in the annals of heritage style.

Today, the competition sweater gets only a fraction of the love it deserves, in part because there are only a few makers who still produce them. Buco have a racing jersey that captures some of the aesthetic, but American heritage knitwear manufacturer Dehen are a mile ahead.

For the uninitiated observer and the student of rebel style, the name might conjure up images of the English ton-up boys. They both miss the mark. The name was a late innovation given to the style by some clever marketer. Whatever you call it, for the sleek and slick motorcycle style enthusiast, the chopped-collar, high-octane classic is as good as it gets.

Lewis Leathers made what was arguably the first version of this jacket nearly a century ago, and they still produce a stellar version. Schott NYCAero Leathers, and Himel Brothers also do the café racer justice.

The waxed motorcycle jacket is perfectly English in a not-so-English way. Conceived in the days of trial races, which covered hundreds of kilometres on dirt roads and through farmer’s fields, the wax motorcycle jacket, like the iconic riders from the era, is equal parts daredevil and dapper. Continues to look great (some say better) after it’s had its face rubbed in the mud.

Addict’s BMC might be the best you can get, and Private White have a striking version in both waxed cotton and leather. Our favourites are the originals, Belstaff’s Trialmaster and Barbour’s International, which are still as much a tour de force as they’ve ever been.


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    Illustrations from The Rebel’s Wardrobe, gestalten 2022.

    Rebel Essentials » Motors

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