Let’s recap what we already know about bomber jackets, the versatile menswear staple also known as the MA-1. The jacket has military roots, dating back to WWII. While they may have started out slightly oversized, today, you can also find them cut both extra slim and extra large. In fact, the many styles have become so ubiquitous, that we named them one of our best trends of 2015. They’re also a favorite of The Weekend, one of our best-dressed celebrities of last year.
But, if you think you know everything there is to know about bombers, you may be wrong. Now more than ever, designers are taking the jacket’s popularity to new heights with unique details that make them stand out from the crowd. That means this season alone, your options include elongated versions from labels like Fear of God and Rick Owens, jackets created with surprising fabrics, like an iridescent take from Los Angeles-based designer John Elliott, and pieces that incorporate technical features, such as Christopher Raeburn's bomber made in part from life raft material.
Part of the reason designers enjoy experimenting with the style so much is that it has such a wide appeal, and guys already wear bombers in so many different ways. The possibilities to push the boundaries with innovative details are seemingly endless. “You can change the way it’s cut,” Elliott says. “You can make it slightly cropped and somewhat oversized in the body, and make the silhouette interesting through having slim sleeves, which I did. There are always small ways to tweak it to make it time appropriate, but it’s something that’s a classic piece.”
Raeburn agrees. “I think bombers work because they suit so many styles,” he told Complex. “It's an absolutely classic menswear archetype, steeped in history and coupled with a great amount of flexibility as to how it can be worn.”
Both Raeburn and Elliott confess to having personal outerwear collections that include a healthy number of MA-1’s—each own vintage versions they mix into rotation alongside pieces of their own design. With upgrades and improvements on the bomber coming fast and furious, it’s not a stretch to imagine they’ll be among the many men consistently adding to their private stash over the course of their adult lives.
Elliott, for one, hopes he’ll be dipping back into his extensive archives for years to come. “I pray that when I’m in my rocking chair, my grandkids still think this stuff is cool,” he says.
See below for our favorite upscale updates to the bomber jacket this season.