Levi’s Oil & Leather: 21 Hand-Painted Leather Jackets

In line with the launch of the Levi’s Vintage Clothing Fall 12 biker collection, Levi’s launches the Oil & Leather exhibition celebrating the untamed and rebellious style of the American biker.

Our good friends over at Levi’s® recently directed us towards their latest collaboration that pays tribute to 1950s biker. Spearheaded by one of stories from the Levi’s Vintage Clothing F/W 12 line, the team commissioned 21 artists from around the world to hand-paint custom artwork on the iconic Biker Jacket. The brief was simple: “Using oil paints, create something beautiful in your own hand that you feel would look great on this amazing leather jacket.”

As explained on Levi’s Explore, the brand has been heavily intertwined with biker culture since its emergence in the ’50s, with the 501 jean being a core element of the biker uniform (along with a white T-shirt and tough black leather jacket). Levi’s explained that “When the GIs returned from WWII with hand-painted leather flight jackets, they inspired American biker gangs to decorate their motorbike jackets, evolving a style that became synonymous with leather, customization, and rebellious artwork.”

As you can see from the results, the interpreted artworks perfectly reflect the rebellious symbols and motifs that you come to associate with biker culture.

The exhibition launched at Levi’s flagship in Union Square, San Francisco on Thursday (Nov. 15) showcasing custom pieces from artists including Chicago tattooist Nick Colella and U.K. illustrators Ben Lamb and Yuko Kondo. To compliment the jackets, Levi’s also invited Danny Lyons (650-cc Triumph bike owner and Chicago Outlaws Motorcycle Club member) to showcase a selection of his images from the 1968 “The Bikeriders” photographic series. Furthermore, unseen outtakes, contact sheets, and letters from Hunter S. Thompsonwill also be included in the presentation.

The exhibition will run at Levi’s flagship until November 25, and will then tour across New York (Pop Up Flea: Nov. 30-Dec. 2and Tokyo (Shinjuku Levi’s Store: Dec. 7-23).

Bellow are some more examples of the jackets, along with a short description of the artist and their work (info taken from Levi’s website where you can read more).

“CHRIS BIANCHI is an artist, illustrator living and working out of London. Chris moved to London in 1998 and after completing a BA he went on to the Royal College of Art where he cofounded the periodical publication LE GUN. He is also cofounder of the quarterly magazine Bare Bones. He has exhibited his personal work in galleries such as Daniel Blau in London, Loft 19 in Paris, Bourouina Gallery in Berlin, Neu Gallery in London, and Gallery Fake in Tokyo. Chris also works for a wide range of commercial clients including GQ Magazine, Channel 4 UK, Hewlett-Packard, Levi’s®, Paul Smith, Belvedere Vodka and the Red Hot Chili Peppers. When not at the drawing board, Chris is learning to play the trumpet and hang gliding his way through the East London dream scape.”

“ETIENNE MEMON is a tattooer and a painter who works at the Salon Serpent Tattoo Parlour in Amsterdam. He loves old stuff, weird things, watercolor painting, denim jeans, tattoos, and Roti Rolls.”

“YUKO KONDO is an illustrator, art director and animator based in London. Yuko graduated from the Royal College of Art with an MA in Communication Art and Design at 2003. He is known for his vibrant and intelligent work with major brands and creatives world wide. Yuko’s aim is to entertain the viewer through his work, making bold use of color, pattern and a distinct repertoire of surreal and often darkly humorous characters. His first book ‘Too Fat Can’t Fly’ was published though Pocko/ Gingko and he has participated in many exhibitions across Europe, USA and Japan.”

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