Tyler Durden’s Rust Red Leather Jacket

Several requests for a breakdown of Tyler Durden’s style have thus led to this post which Tyler himself would certainly tell himself that he hates – and that’s not necessarily a bad thing!

Brad Pitt as Tyler Durden in Fight Club (1999).

Brad Pitt as Tyler Durden in Fight Club (1999).

Vitals

Brad Pitt as Tyler Durden, soapmaker, fight club leader, and urban terrorist

Wilmington, Delaware, Spring 1999

Film: Fight Club
Release Date: October 15, 1999
Director: David Fincher
Costume Designer: Michael Kaplan

WARNING! Spoilers ahead!

Background

“We are a nation of physical animals who have forgotten how much we enjoy being that. We are cushioned by this kind of make-believe, unreal world, and we have no idea what we can survive because we are never challenged or tested,” is how Chuck Palahniuk summed up his intent for writing Fight Club, the 1995 novel that inspired the David Fincher-directed cult film. Fincher’s darker-than-black comedic adaptation of the novel staggered audiences upon its first release, reviled for its graphic violence and messaging that was misinterpreted as criticisms against both feminism and hyper-masculinity.

“It offers people the idea that they can create their own lives outside the existing blueprint for happiness offered by society,” Palahniuk included on the booklet that accompanied some DVD copies, further complicating the waters that surround interpretation of Fight Club. Fans and foes alike have mistakenly clouded Tyler’s beliefs as the film’s ultimate messaging, not considering the point that Edward Norton made in an interview with Yale that “it’s a critique of how Nietzsche becomes Hitler.”

This messaging was lost on the many men who superficially saw Fight Club as an empowering call to regain the flawed and often violent “values” that permeate traditional masculinity in the hunter/gatherer sense, validating their mistaken interpretation with the film’s “purer” stance against materialism. In the end, “Tyler Durden” becomes the dehumanizing autocrat that he spent the first half of his appearance waxing poetic against.

And who is Tyler Durden?

Edward Norton’s narrator is a passively frustrated office drone with incurable insomnia, a dark answer to the TPS-reporting minions in Office Space released earlier in the year; evidently, 1999 was the year that Americans got fed up with their cubicles. Likely suffering from dissociative identity disorder, the narrator subconsciously delves into his untapped id and creates… Tyler Durden, the very man that hates everything our narrator had been living for, who takes over as the controlling personality with his own distinctive name, identity, and – most importantly – self-image. Unrestrained by the IKEA/Martha Stewart lifestyle that the narrator doesn’t feel empowered to live without, Tyler is able to embrace to total freedom of living for oneself without societal-defined rules (and/or roles) although the freedom granted to this nihilistic idealism further drives Tyler – and thus, our narrator – away from reality.

What’d He Wear?

As our narrator’s ideal Übermensch, it’s interesting to note that Tyler Durden’s distinctive fashion sense is a direct reflection of what a pathetic “everyman” like the narrator thinks “the ideal man” would be wearing… which might make the narrator even more pathetic, especially keeping in mind that Tyler will always be dressed as a reflection of the narrator’s psyche. An excellent analysis at The Toast includes a terrific and convincing argument as Tyler’s clothing shifts more from the narrator’s vision of rugged masculinity to a reflection of Marla Singer: “…if this theory is correct, and was done as a deliberate insight into the narrator’s psyche, it is an amazing use of wardrobe as first a joke and secondly as a narrative device.”

During two of the narrator's first "visions of Tyler", he is wearing this red leather jacket.

During two of the narrator’s first “visions of Tyler”, he is wearing this red leather jacket.

Red is often used to symbolize power, passion, and urgency, three elements missing in the narrator’s life that are filled by his vision of Tyler Durden. It can’t be a coincidence that Tyler is sporting red the first time the narrator interacts with him on the plane, and he continues to prominently wear red throughout much of the narrative, from his printed shirt and sunglasses to his vintage-looking leather jacket.

The Jacket

Tyler Durden’s reddish leather jacket has become one of the most demanded replicas, and – ironically enough – many companies now market their own replicas in varying degrees of quality, including an accurate-looking version at MaxCady.com.

In two of the narrator’s first flash hallucinations of Tyler (at his office and behind his doctor), Tyler is wearing this jacket. He is wearing a different red jacket on the plane, but he is again sporting the jacket when he meets the narrator at Lou’s for their first post-plane interaction that leads to a parking lot fight.

The cavalier Tyler listens to the narrator go on about his bad day.

The cavalier Tyler listens to the narrator go on about his bad day.

The rust red leather jacket has white double stitching on all edges, including the large shirt-style collar and the front and back yokes. The front yoke runs horizontally straight across the upper chest while the back yoke is double-pointed with stitching running down from each yoke point to the bottom, where there is a long vent.

The single-breasted jacket has four plastic red buttons down the front and a patch pocket on each hip that closes with a flap, although no buttons or closure method is visible on these pocket flaps. The cuffs are plain with no buttons or tabs, and there is more white double-stitching that runs up each sleeve.

Tyler makes some strange requests of his new acquaintance.

Tyler makes some strange requests of his new acquaintance.

The Shirts

All of Fight Club – not just scenes featuring this jacket – find Tyler in some amazingly unique shirts, almost all definitely vintage or “found” items ranging from loudly-printed button-ups to obscurely logoed t-shirts. The shirts reflect Tyler’s contemptuous sense of irony that often finds him sporting loud, flamboyant prints and patterns that are distinctly at odds with the all black aesthetic that Project Mayhem would so pointedly adopt.

One of the most popular shirts is the vintage-looking polyester button-up covered by black and white printed toucans (with yellow beaks, of course) on a white ground with a blue broken spiral motif. This shirt has a large disco-style collar with long points and seven buttons down the front, although Tyler only clearly buttons two or three over his chest, letting it flap widely open over his neck and abs, a disdain that our bored narrator clearly wishes he could emulate.

Maybe Tyler Durden just really likes Froot Loops?

Maybe Tyler Durden just really likes Froot Loops?

A replica of this first shirt, which Tyler wears when he meets the narrator at Lou’s before engaging him in their first fight, is also available from MaxCady.com.

A few brief scenes outside Lou’s show Tyler wearing this red leather jacket while overseeing some fights. He wears a couple of other disco-collared button-ups, including one in bright red and another in yellow with a light blue windowpane grid.

Tyler's role gradually grows within Fight Club.

Tyler’s role gradually grows within Fight Club.

While presiding over an official Fight Club session in Lou’s basement, Tyler strips off his red leather coat to reveal a tight black leather short-sleeve shirt with another big disco collar and a zip front.

Things are starting to get official.

Things are starting to get official.

Another of the most memorable and in-demand shirts from Fight Club is the light blue motocross graphic t-shirt that he wears when stepping onto the bus and hearing the narrator’s (warranted) desire to fight William Shatner. This tight short-sleeve cotton t-shirt was cut off just above the waist to flash a few inches of midriff and featured in plenty of promotional material for Fight Club.

Who would you rather fight? Hemingway or Shatner?

Who would you rather fight? Hemingway or Shatner?

The shirt is covered in a series of at least a dozen cyanic-tinted images from motocross, a form of off-road motorcycle racing. The U.K.’s KiSS Clothing developed the “Motocross KiSS All Over” t-shirt, based on the one worn by Brad Pitt in the film. Though not an exact replica – which would probably be impossible – it excellently channels the chaotically corny shirt that the ironic Übermensch wears while recruiting new fighters.

Tyler opts for another ’70s-style printed shirt when he “rescues” Marla Singer from her suicide attempt (or “cry for help,” as she dismisses it). This silk button-up shirt is abstractly printed in shades of purple, pink, and gray. It has a breast pocket and is cut straight around the bottom at the waist line.

Tyler oozes reckless swagger as he drops in on a suicidal Marla Singer.

Tyler oozes reckless swagger as he drops in on a suicidal Marla Singer. (Note how much redder the jacket looks in behind-the-scenes shots.)

When taking the narrator on their human sacrifice mission to visit “Hessel, Raymond K.” at the convenience store, Tyler wears a yellow crew neck t-shirt with a lightly cyanic graphic logo in the center which appears to have a gray skeleton on a light blue wave with the pink letters “U.S.F.” above it.

Any ideas?

Any ideas?

The jacket’s final appearance is Tyler’s climatic car crash with the narrator and a few of their space monkeys in the back seat. This is the simplest of his shirts, a black short-sleeve shirt with a single red striped band around the crew-neck collar. The wardrobe choice is surely a reflection of the direction of the film’s narrative; as the events continue to spiral (seemingly) out of the narrator’s control, Tyler appears less chaotic than before, adopting – in his own way – the black uniform of his urban fighters.

Tyler the commander.

Tyler the commander.

Everything Else

Tyler’s trousers also evolve as he shifts from a devil-may-care basement fighter to a neo-fascist guerilla commander. Initially, he is satisfied to strut around in a pair of casual, dark navy track pants with three yellow stripes down the legs; the thick center stripe is flanked by a thinner stripe on each side. (MaxCady.com also offers a replica of the Durden track pants, if you don’t still have that Adidas pair from high school.)

And Tyler Durden said: "Let there be light."

And Tyler Durden said: “Let there be light.”

By the time Tyler is sporting his motocross t-shirt, having sex with Marla, and finding subjects for his “human sacrifice”, he is donning a more structured pair of gray flat front chinos with a dark navy stripe down each side seam, similar to West Point cadet trousers. These trousers have slightly slanted side pockets, plain-hemmed bottoms, and belt loops that go unused as Tyler lets the low rise of the chinos hang impetuously on his hips.

They're looking more and more like the orphaned pants from some uniform...

They’re looking more and more like the orphaned pants from some uniform…

A common pair of shoes for Tyler to wear with his red leather jacket are his brown throwback Hodgman Lakestream Wading Boots with yellow soles and toe caps. The brown laces cross over the front of the boot through a series of five brass hooks. These waterproof boots are distinctive for their felt bottoms and soft shell around the top of the back, colored gold on Tyler’s pair. The boot’s association with Fight Club has led to its popularity on eBay and similar sites.

Tyler lays on the pedal in his Lincoln.

Tyler lays on the pedal in his Lincoln.

For his jaunt to Marla Singer’s apartment, Tyler is once again delving into irony with a pair of bright brown alligator leather Gucci loafers with gold horsebit detail.

Tyler Durden is seen wearing three different pairs of sunglasses, all from Brad Pitt’s preferred Oliver Peoples brand. The model worn with this jacket is the Oliver Peoples OP523, a pair of larger silver-framed sunglasses with “blood red” gradient lenses.

At least he matches?

At least he kinda matches?

Tyler Durden also wears two rings at all times. On his left middle finger, he wears a plain silver ring. Given Tyler’s attitudes about marriage, wearing a ring that resembles a wedding band on the middle finger of his left hand – rather than the third finger – could be his way of saying “fuck you” to the institution itself.

On the third finger of his right hand, Tyler always wears a big ring set with the image of an eye. He appears to have a multitude of these rings, although the majority look to be silver with a single eye staring back from the large setting.

Danielle Jennings provided a helpful breakdown at Love to Know that not only includes a brief guide to Tyler’s basic look but also links to where interested shoppers can find or design their own Durden-esque style.

Go Big or Go Home

Although Tyler Durden makes a point of eschewing brands, he makes no secret of his preference for Budweiser beer, a logical choice for someone meant to represent the oppressed “everyman” fighting back against the growing trends of microbrews and craft beers.

Two new buds bond over Buds.

Two new buds bond over Buds.

Whether it was a conscious choice by the filmmakers or forced upon them by the studio, the brand of Tyler’s cigarettes are concealed by tape on the package. However, a closer look reveals that Tyler smokes Doral cigarettes, a budget brand from R.J. Reynolds.

The narrator turns down one of Tyler's Dorals.

The narrator turns down one of Tyler’s Dorals.

FCTyler-crop1How to Get the Look

Which Tyler Durden are you? (Hopefully, neither of them.)

The charismatic, devil-may-care soapmaker who gleefully inserts porn into kids’ movies…?

  • Rust red leather single-breasted 4-button jacket with shirt-style collar, pointed-flap hip patch pockets, double-pointed back yoke, and large vent
  • Loudly-printed polyester “disco” button-up shirt with large pointed collar and breast pocket
  • Dark navy track pants with triple yellow side stripe
  • Brown waterproof Hodgman Lakestream Wading Boots with yellow soles, toe-cap, and upper back soft shell
  • Oliver PeoplesOP 523 large silver-framed sunglasses with red lenses
  • Large silver ring with eye motif setting on right 3rd finger
  • Silver plain ring on left middle finger

FCTyler-crop2…or the dangerous basement fighter using his reckless charisma to recruit an army of anti-corporate guerillas?

  • Rust red leather single-breasted 4-button jacket with shirt-style collar, pointed-flap hip patch pockets, double-pointed back yoke, and large vent
  • Tight short-sleeve crew-neck t-shirt with an obscure logo or pattern like blue motocross racers
  • Gray flat front chino trousers with navy seam stripe, belt loops, slanted side pockets, and plain-hemmed bottoms
  • Brown alligator leather Gucci loafers with gold horsebit detail
  • Oliver Peoples OP 523 large silver-framed sunglasses with red lenses
  • Large silver ring with eye motif setting on right 3rd finger
  • Silver plain ring on left middle finger

The Gun

When Tyler Durden approaches Raymond K. Hessel in the convenience store, he takes a blued Colt Python revolver from the narrator’s bag, which – to the narrator’s great relief – turns out to be unloaded.

Tyler offers Raymond K. Hessel a "near-life experience".

Tyler offers Raymond K. Hessel a “near-life experience”.

The Colt Python is one of the most sought-after revolvers of the 20th century. Chambered for the powerful .357 Magnum cartridge (when it is loaded), the Python has been described as the finest production revolver ever made. It was first introduced in 1955, twenty years after the development of the .357 Magnum by Smith & Wesson. That same year, S&W rolled out its .44 Magnum Model 29 but it was the top-of-the-line Python that grabbed the attention of handgun enthusiasts.

FCTyler-GUN-CPython1

Renowned for its accuracy and relatively smooth trigger pull, the Python was a popular mainstay on Colt’s production lineup for fifty years until it was discontinued in 2005. The double-action revolver has the capacity for six rounds in its cylinder and barrel lengths range from a 2.5″ “snub nose” model up to an imposing 8″ hunting model. Naturally, the narrator would arm his imaginary Übermensch with a powerful, popular handgun that would replace the character’s own inadequacies.

Do Yourself a Favor and…

Buy the movie.

The Quote

How much can you know about yourself if you’ve never been in a fight?

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