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Original Indian Motorcycle Jackets

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88
As a collector of vintage Indian Motorcycles and antique riding gear I want to put some light onto motorcycle jackets tagged with "Indian Sportswear for Motorcyclists".
This was the mercandise company to the famous Indian Motocycle Co. in Springfield Mass. They offered riding gear from 1946 to 1960. Including the well known "Indian Ranger" leather jacket.
This thread focusses on the motorcycle leather jackets tailored in 1957 and 1958.
The budget for marketing and merch was always small and therefore only two designs of motorcycle jackets were launched.
In the accessoires catalog of 1957 a black steerhide jacket was pictured. It had a detachable black fur collar , a simple leather belt and the back section was one piece and 29 inches long with a "duck tail" for wind protection. Zippers were all alloy Talon. Typical throat latch and no gussets on the sleeves. The lining was red Curon fabric. There were 2 labels, a red one saying "Indian Sportswear for Motorcyclists" and a small white one right underneath telling that that its made of steer hide. A female model was also available with mirrored design elements. Here are some pics.
Next thread is on the jackets made in 1959 and 1960.They were lightly different.

My opinion:
These jackets were only made for 2 years only and with the Indian motorcycles not beeing popular, only a handful of jackets were sold. If you come over one example, look at the "Steer hide" label. Most of them are sewn to the upper label with the steer´s head cut. I think this was a joke of the tailor. Maybe all were made by the same person? The jackets surely were produced in the Boston area according to the steer hide labels, that were the very same on other brands, too.
 

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AeroFan_07

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Welcome and thank you for sharing! This is indeed an under-known topic. I have a reproduction of a different version of this model. There are several others on here with knowledge and a lot of intrest in the originals -- calling @Mysteryo
 

Aloysius

Practically Family
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918
Great post!

This thread focusses on the motorcycle leather jackets tailored in 1957 and 1958.
Next thread is on the jackets made in 1959 and 1960.They were lightly different.

I would highly recommend keeping these posts in one thread; there are a few of us who are really into the Indian jackets, but splitting it into a series of threads would lose the momentum and discussion.

My opinion:
These jackets were only made for 2 years only and with the Indian motorcycles not beeing popular, only a handful of jackets were sold. If you come over one example, look at the "Steer hide" label. Most of them are sewn to the upper label with the steer´s head cut. I think this was a joke of the tailor. Maybe all were made by the same person? The jackets surely were produced in the Boston area according to the steer hide labels, that were the very same on other brands, too.

Rin Tanaka believes that they were made by Fidelity, a sportswear manufacturer in Massachusetts.


I think the one I have is an older version
View attachment 366794

You have the 1947-1953 model, with your own particular one being toward the earlier part of that date range, if I recall correctly.
 
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Mysteryo

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Great post!



I would highly recommend keeping these posts in one thread; there are a few of us who are really into the Indian jackets, but splitting it into a series of threads would lose the momentum and discussion.



Rin Tanaka believes that they were made by Fidelity, a sportswear manufacturer in Massachusetts.




You have the 1947-1953 model, with your own particular one being toward the earlier part of that date range, if I recall correctly.
Yes. it’s a horsehide, with one zipped pocket on left kidney.
 
Messages
88
As a collector of vintage Indian Motorcycles and antique riding gear I want to put some light onto motorcycle jackets tagged with "Indian Sportswear for Motorcyclists".
This was the mercandise company to the famous Indian Motocycle Co. in Springfield Mass. They offered riding gear from 1946 to 1960. Including the well known "Indian Ranger" leather jacket.

In 1959 Indian facelifted their motorcycle jackets. See pic of the 1959 Accessoires catalog in the thread gallery.
Differents to the previous model were:
Bi-swings and collar were fitted with reflective cloth, usually used by mine workers for saftey. It works great, when riding in nighttime. See pic in thread gallery. The belt buckle was changed to a silver nickled one with emailled Indian head. All zippers were alloy Talons.
There were jackets for men and women. Some were for Law Enforcement and had a mounting lid for a Police badge.

I got mine from an old Indian rider who bought it in 1959 but retired from rideing and he wanted to give it to another Indian rider only. There is a big Indian script on the back and there are red spots on the sleeves from painting his 1948 Chief back in the 1960s. Love to have some history with that jacket. I often wear it when riding my 1946 Indian Chief Hot Rod.
Here are some pic also.
 

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tmitchell59

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Great Thread! Always wanting to learn more.

I like that you have indicated East Coast maker as possibilities.

Have you encountered an Identical jacket made without the Indian labels? Such as a Fidelity or other East Coast maker?
 
Messages
88
Thank you for the kind words. Just want to put a light on Indian motorcycle jackets. If you put into these aera, the most economically way to get merchandise was to get it locally. I guess they made contracts back then, that forbid an exact copy of a design.
 

Aloysius

Practically Family
Messages
918
I guess they made contracts back then, that forbid an exact copy of a design.

Not necessarily. Fidelity made the Indian Ranger under their own name too, just without calling it "Indian Ranger". Beck commissioned some jacket designs by Schott that were also sold directly by Schott. Likewise, Buco made jackets for Harley Davidson but also sold those jackets under their label.
 

JMax

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8,145
Fidelity’s IR has some differences though: Snaps on belt and epaulettes, sleeve zips not on top and no snaps on the upper lapels.
 
Messages
88
Thanks for starting this thread. Excellent information.
Not necessarily. Fidelity made the Indian Ranger under their own name too, just without calling it "Indian Ranger". Beck commissioned some jacket designs by Schott that were also sold directly by Schott. Likewise, Buco made jackets for Harley Davidson but also sold those jackets under their label.
About Fidelity Company, I have my own thoughts. But you are right. I´m posting the history of Indian motorcycle jackets next.
 

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