On a recent trip to London, UK we had a chance to visit and shop at one of the most historic Motorcycle Leather Shops in Great Britain. Lewis Leathers is a motorcycle enthusiast must stop and shop.
“Lewis Leathers is a brand name of the oldest British motorcycle clothing company. D. Lewis Ltd, manufacturer of leather jackets which was established in the late 19th century.
The company supplied early aviators, motorists and motorcyclists with protective clothing against the cold and damp British climate. In the mid-1950s, D. Lewis produced the Bronx leather jacket, one of the first products aimed directly at the post-war teenage fashion market, which was widely adopted by the Ton-up Boys and Rockers of the 1960s, becoming associated with the 59 Club and sponsoring leading motorcycle and TT racers of the day.
Originally a family business called D. Lewis, started in the 1892 as a gentlemen’s outfitter or “wardobe company”, At that time, the company produced gents suiting and raincoats in the east end of London. D. Lewis became a Limited company in 1929 under the stewardship of brothers Nathan Jones, David and Lewis Isaacs on Great Portland Street in London’s West End, they also had Birmingham, Sheffield and Liverpool which traded under the name of N Jones. It was during the 1910s that the company started making and retailing specialist clothing for what was then considered the “gentlemen’s” auto sports of aviation and motoring producing their wares in Watford.
At the time, Great Portland Street was known as “Motor Row”, the primary location for purchasing automobiles and related accessories in the early years of the 20th century. It had no less than 33 showrooms located along it, including companies such as: Benz Motor, Jaguar, Austin, Morgan Motor and the Indian Motorcycle Company.,as well as being the center of the clothing trade.
It was not until 1960 that the company registered the name by which it soon became most commonly known, ‘Lewis Leathers’. This brand name was introduced on a new range of leather jackets aimed at the youth market and, in 1962, it aligned itself with the burgeoning 59 Club in London, Hackney Wick. As the Mods and Rockers clashed at English seaside resorts, Lewis Leather clothing was to be seen on both sides of the conflict.
In 1982, the company was sold to the Newbold Brothers; it was then sold to Richard Lyon in November 1986. In 1991 its classic designs were to be researched and re-created by Derek Harris. After trading from the same location for 101 years, the Great Portland Street shop closed in 1993. That same year saw the launch of a small ‘Retro Range’ of Lewis Leathers jackets with lining, labels and hardware all as found on the jackets seen during the 60s and 70s. The release of this range and its subsequent marketing in Japan, USA and the UK coincided with vintage Lewis Leathers jackets becoming increasingly sought after in Japan where they are promoted for their authentic connections to the rockers of the 60s, leading British Punks, Rock musicians and fashion icons, and are often highly customized.
Lewis Leathers shop, Whitfield Street, London in 2013
Harris and Lyon continued to expand the range of authentic retro-styled jackets, their efforts leading to collaborations with leading fashion designers such as Comme des Garçons in 2002. In 2003 Lyon announced his retirement leading to Harris, whom, after 12 years researching and working on its designs, took over the company and established an office in Japan opened by 59 Club Japan leader, Koji Baba. The London branch was re-opened close to the original premises in Whitfield Street, part of London’s Fitzrovia.
D. Lewis Ltd and Lewis Leathers garments were always produced in England, initially in Watford or St Albans, and from 1958 to 1982, in Copperfield Rd, East London. In the 1970s, a small factory in Sheffield was also used. In 1982 all production was moved to Northampton, returning to London in 1993 where it remains until the present date.
From the late 1950s Lewis Leathers advertised to motorcyclists and also in popular musical publications such as the NME and Melody Maker. Lewis Leathers were also official suppliers to police motorcyclists in the UK.”
They recently moved to a new location just around the corner from the historic location –
Lewis Leathers London
33 Windmill St
London, W1T 2JP
T: 0207 636 4314