Firm but malleable, it stretches across the body in a powerful, yet seductive style. It can be tough and worn like those who wear it. From a smooth black to a tough tan, it can take on many colors. It traveled under the feet of those who braved the west, shielded the ancient soldier in battle, and rides the backs of bikers everywhere. Leather is an undeniable symbol of power, toughness, and even seduction.
The durability and strength of leather can easily be felt upon touch. It does not flow through your hands like other fabrics. Instead, it is a firm, rigid texture composed of the hide of previously living animals. When wearing Leather, one assumes the strength and toughness of the material. In the same way, one also asserts their dominance over other living creatures.
Culturally, when we think of leather, we think of either rough individuals, or authority figures. Both of these figures demand a certain form of fear and dominance. We often associate the leather jacket with the rebel or tough guy. Likewise, the leather boots with the workingman or cowboy. These associations come from the innate properties of leather, which mimic the identity of those who wear them. Naturally, people gravitate to clothes that identify their personality. Silk clothes identify the elite and luxurious. Linen identifies the free and easy going. Leather, identifies tough and rebellious individuals.
Leather also takes on a connotation of seduction and sexual appeal. This is not surprising considering that feelings of power and dominance are often associated with sex. Leather can be stretched taught, conveying a form of tension that relates to the constant sexual tension of humans. Leather is also frequently associated with a rebellious nature—a characteristic that many find seductive.
It is important to recognize the symbolism behind Leather, so that we are able to defend ourselves against ploys to appeal to our subconscious. As stores and business search to find ways of differentiating their products, they tap into clever metaphorical language that relates their products to particular feelings and identities. Stores may try to sell boots by telling us that their boots will let us walk anywhere anytime. In an instance like this they are trying to reassert that their boots can be identified with power. In reality boots are boots and most consumer should probably not be making the decision of what boots to buy based on the level of power they grant. Furthermore, people may try to appeal to our subconscious symbolism of leather by wearing leather to make them appear dominant or rebellious. If we are aware of the subconscious symbolism that leather evokes, we are better able to defend against ploys to manipulate us.
Ultimately, whether we recognize the symbolism of leather or not, we are unable to avoid the association of leather with power, toughness, and seduction. Leather still travels under the feet of those who brave the west, shields the soldier in battle, stretches seductively across the bodies of singers, and rides the backs of bikers everywhere. This is because leather’s symbolism is founded in one of the most powerful tools of association—human senses, specifically touch.