History of Leather Patches

There are many ways that you can decorate your clothes to personalize them and make them unique. One of the easiest ways to do this is by adding leather patches, which are highly versatile in terms of their appearance as well as being hardwearing so you know it’s going to last at least as long as the material you’re sewing it onto.

Many leather patches have their origins in military history or aviator’s clothing meaning that it’s easy to integrate that form of heritage into your clothing but leather patches also present a fun and highly creative way to personalize almost any kind of item, whether it’s a denim or leather jacket, a pair of jeans, a backpack, a satchel or any other kind of bag.


bag If you’re wondering who were the first people to use leather patches you might first think of old English university professors with leather patches sewn into the elbows of their sweaters. But that’s not really the case. The first widespread use of leather patches probably occurred in Germany, where World War I German stormtroopers sewed leather elbow patches onto their uniforms to protect them while crawling along the ground or in the trenches.

In the World War II era, military pilots began to dream up more creative ways to decorate and personalize their flight jackets. Many pilots choose to sew embossed handmade leather patches made by local artisans onto their jackets to celebrate accomplishments or to distinguish themselves from other pilots owing to the highly competitive and ego-fuelled nature of their job.

Vintage Jacket

patchWhile the pilots began to wear patches voluntarily, they eventually became military custom. Military aviators wear their iconic bomber leather jackets as a status symbol, with the Navy and Marine pilots wearing the G-1 Jacket and the Air Force and Army pilots wearing the A-2 Jacket.

These jackets often have a name tag on the left chest, an embossed squadron patch on the right chest as well as sometimes also having shoulder patches. This gave units plenty of scope to personalize the basic three patch locations as well as starting a culture of individual pilots adding patches to other locations on their jackets that has continued through to the present day.