Summer may be known for its scorching hot temps and dripping humidity, but none of that has in anyway stopped leather and all its iterations from being the breakout style trend for summer 2021. In major metropolises and especially New York, women boldly announced their reentry into a post-pandemic social scene flexing leather and faux leather looks at all hours of the day and night. Daywear be damned!
Among celebrities, KNC Beauty CEO Kristen Noel Crawley set the tone back in June with a full-length, buttery soft leather gown for a date night with her hubby, Don Crawley. More recently Kim Kardashian made a statement in a red Rick Owens leather jumpsuit while in attendance at at the listening party for her husband Kanye West‘s Donda album. The temperature that night in Atlanta? A steamy 86 degrees!
Clearly leather is having a moment and one that’s utterly unattached to practicality. To investigate the origins of the piping hot (literally) trend, we checked in with stylist Keith Pearson, who’s known for his work dressing professional athletes. Recently, he was part of the team of stylists responsible for Sha’Carri Richardson‘s ESPY Awards appearance.
Having worked until recently at a label known for its leather pants, Pearson has personal experience watching the trend build momentum. “Early this summer, we sold out of a $650 leather pant. It had a standard Levi’s 501 cut and easily fit men and women,” he noted.
Weighing in on why the leather trend has become untethered from seasonality, Pearson explained, “One element of the trend is a sense that we’re at war against so many things. There’s global warming, unusual weather, a pandemic crisis…and we need a tough exterior, more skin to protect and possibly survive, even if it is hot.”
Pearson also noted that nostalgia combined with the “Kanye West effect” have also been drivers: “The trend definitely has to do with nostalgia, taking inspiration from the look of the Bad Boys Records era with ’90s of bands like Jodeci, who at the time were dressed by stylist Sybil Pennix. I also see early Robert Mapplethorpe and Helmut Lang references. And then there’s the Kanye West effect. He’s been wearing leather looks pretty much all summer.”
Check out some of our favorite leather looks below.