A Brief History of World Leaders in Leather Jackets

Former President of South Africa, Jacob Zuma, addresses a crowd in Johannesburg, April 23, 2009.Aexander Joe / Getty Images

South African Flop

Former South African President Jacob Zuma has been subject of many ignominious controversies, from rape allegations to a resignation in 2018 over corruption. He’s currently refusing to appear before South African courts. Among his many disappointing qualities: a predilection for hideous brightly leather jackets. His party actually released a collection of neon leather jackets to celebrate his style, but they proved massively unpopular across the country.

The Worst People in Nice Jackets

There’s no getting around it: fascists love leather. Mussolini loved a motorcycle jacket. Nazis of all shapes and sizes wore leather coats, both during WWII and in racist subcultures in the years to come. This guy wore brown leather to storm the Capitol last week. Leather can work many wonders, but it cannot make fascism any less awful.

P.S. It’s really too easy to find photos of these historic assholes in leather, but I don’t have to help you. If you’re really curious, Google.

Former Finance Minister of Greece, Yanis Varoufakis, arrives for a meeting with Britain’s Finance Minister, George Osborne, in London, February 2, 2015.Anadolu Agency / Getty Images

A Finance Minister….with EDGE

When Yanis Varoufakis served as Greece’s Finance Minister for a wild eight months in 2015, he had a big job on his hands that required an even bigger fit. Rarely does International Monetary Fund fashion cause a stir, but Varoufakis’s absolutely wild leather coat made waves. Did Greece pay back the IMF on time that year? No. Did their Finance Minister look like a badass? Undeniably yes.

The 44th president of the United States, Barack Obama, arrives for Game Two of the NBA Finals between the Golden State Warriors and the Raptors in Toronto, June 2, 2019.David Dow / Getty Images


Whether we’re talking statesmanship, book deals, or leather jackets, Obama stands apart. His post-office style is unparalleled in presidential history. In addition to his fan favorite ‘44 jacket, there’s this piece he wore to the 2019 NBA Finals. Unlike the classic Camp David bomber, this black jacket is slimmer—and, dare I say, classier. He owns one in brown, too.

Supreme Leader of North Korea, Kim Jong-un, at a ground-breaking ceremony for Pyongyang General Hospital in North Korea, March 17, 2020.Getty Images

Dear Leader

The man himself in the coat that sent me down this deranged path. What diplomatic missive is hidden within this luxurious leather garm? Only Kim knows. In the meantime, we can only pray that the Dear Leader’s burgeoning sartorial taste is a sign of global rapprochement, and not, like a missile launch to welcome President Biden. After all, leather is a language spoken all over the world.

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