Skip to main content
Original Issue

Soft Skins for Cyclists

The leather garments worn here and on the next pages by test drivers from Harley-Davidson's Milwaukee plant are as far removed from the board-stiff men's leathers of the past as these 1969 bikes are from a 66-horse Harley. Antiqued, buffed and oiled, the supple new leathers can be tailored into the slacks and close-fitting jackets that are revving up as this fall's favorite gear.

The Skins and Where To Buy Them

The buttery softness of the kid, lamb and calf leather clothes on these pages is achieved through a double-tanning process in which the animal fats are removed and softening agents are added to the skins. The hides are then colored with clear aniline dyes that leave grains, grub marks and scars visible. Most leather used in menswear formerly was dyed with thick, opaque pigments, and the clothing looked heavy and stiff. Today's lighter, brighter version is as mellow as saddle leather. This fall it is available in the United States in a wide range of men's garments styled to commute from town to country—as are the versatile new machines being tested in these photographs at Harley-Davidson's Milwaukee plant.

On the opening page of this story Clyde Denzer races a Harley Sprint in Western-cut leather slacks by Head Ski & Sports Wear ($120, Abercrombie & Fitch, New York). His Jantzen turtle-neck is in this fall's bold new striping ($17, John Wanamaker, Philadelphia). On the second page Clyde wears a close-fitting, diagonal-zip jacket. It is by Peter's Sportswear ($75, Karoll's, Chicago). On these pages (left to right) Dave Glaessner prepares for a ride on Harley's Sportster CH in a double-breasted belted coachman's coat imported from England ($200, Bonwit Teller, New York). Ken Edwards checks 1969 Harleys in Cortefiel's Spanish trench coat ($180, Reynolds Penland, Dallas). Dave's single-breasted topcoat is by Bert Paley ($165, Lewis & Thos. Saltz, Washington). Astride Harley's M65 Sport, Ken wears a Nehru jacket in green leather, also by Bert Paley ($140, I. Magnin, all stores). In contrast to the smooth leather are the wide-wale corduroy slacks by Jaymar-Ruby and bold-patterned slacks by Moyer. The high boots by Renegades are as supple as the clothes.

Harley-Davidson Test Drivers Dave Glaessner and Ken Edwards check out the 1969 bikes that will be released this month. The vivid colors—sparkling burgundy and jet fire orange—are as new to Harley as the well-tailored leather clothing the men are wearing is to fall sportswear.