How Ribbed Accents Became Synonymous with Moto Fashion

(Original article was published on on April 8, 2019.)

Mono B celebrates Moto fashion with its line of biker-inspired wear. From ribbed mesh to pleated accents to rebel-chic denim jackets, activewear, and athleisure items in both regular and plus-sizes, add a dose of fierceness in your wardrobe. But how much do we know of this biker-inspired trend?

The creation of the motorcycle in the 19th century not only made traveling easier, but it also started the new moto fashion trend. When it first came out, motorcycles were expensive and only those in the upper class could afford it. Then as the designs were improved, motorcycles became the go-to vehicle for policemen.

Leather seemed to go hand in hand with the motorcycle world, especially at the time when synthetic substance had not been discovered yet, and even then, leather was relatively easier and cheaper to procure. From the dawn of the motorcycle era, leather has been used for protective gear such as boots, gloves, and helmets. Then leather jackets became la mode du jour thanks to Marlon Brando’s The Wild One. His gorgeous looks and the iconic Harley Davidson marked the beginning of the moto fashion craze. Everyone wanted the Perfecto jacket he wore in the movie and The Wild One arguably became the original outlaw biker film.

Many articles have been written about the history and evolution of moto fashion and leather jackets, but what remained a mystery was its connection to ribbed or accordion accents.

It seemed the first-ever recorded piece of fashion with these accordion accents came from Maison Balmain, the French luxury fashion house. It’s still unclear whether it was originated by Cristophe Decarnin (2005 – 2011), Olivier Rousteing (2011 – present), or any of their predecessors. Rousteing has stated in many publications that Decarnin is one of his biggest influences and inspirations in fashion.

Regardless, Balmain released its biker jeans collection featuring ribbing details on the ankles and pockets. The idea behind this accordion-style accents is still unknown, but they appear to mimic the natural creases around the ankle and elbow areas of denim or leather outfits. The pleated details expand and contract and minimize the wear and tear of the garment in those areas, even when the piece of clothing was not constructed using stretch material. Another theory is that the ribbing accent (and their placement) hide the kneepads or other protective gear worn by motorcyclists.

One thing for certain, the biker trend became a smash hit, as evidenced by the myriads of fashion houses, both haute couture and ready-to-wear, launching their own biker-inspired apparel. The accordion accent no longer stays around the joint areas, but have migrated to different parts as well, including the shoulders. The accent itself has changed. It’s now grown to include quilted details, not just pleated.

The success and longevity of the biker-inspired look are largely attributed to iconic stars such as Brando and James Dean, and contemporary celebrities like Gal Gadot. Fans have even pointed out that Gadot seems to always wear some kind of leather jacket in almost all of her movies so far, including as Shank in Ralph Breaks the Internet (check out those ribbed denim pants too). The image that these bikers or Moto fashion look conveys is clear: it’s badass.