Hugh Jackman’s Leather Jacket as Wolverine in X-Men
I’m again pleased to present a guest post contributed by my friend Ken Stauffer, who has written several pieces for BAMF Style previously and chronicles the style of the Ocean’s film series on his excellent Instagram account, @oceansographer.
Hugh Jackman as Logan a.k.a Wolverine, itinerant and amnesiac cage-fighter and part-time superhero
Northern Alberta, Canada and Westchester, New York, in the not too distant future
Release Date: July 15, 2000
Director: Bryan Singer
Costume Designer: Louise Mingenbach
Happy Birthday to Hugh Jackman! The charismatic Australian song-and-dance man turns 54 today.
Earlier this month, Ryan Reynolds broke the Internet with his announcement that Hugh would be strapping on the claws to play Wolverine once more in Deadpool III. Despite his repeated declarations that James Mangold’s Logan in 2017 would be his last dance with the character, it seems he just couldn’t say no to the prospect of reprising the role that made him famous.
X-Men catapulted a then-unknown 31-year-old Jackman into international stardom, but—in 1999—he was far from the first choice for the role of Logan. Diminutive rocker Glenn Danzig first expressed interest in the role in the 90s and, for a time, was seriously considered. Once pre-production began in earnest though, efforts turned to casting Russell Crowe as the Canadian mutant. When turning the part down, the Gladiator star recommended Jackman for the role. Even still, the producers were not on board and next offered the part to Scottish actor Dougray Scott, who did actually sign on. Then, due to production delays on Mission: Impossible II, Scott had to drop out at the last minute, finally leading to Hugh being cast three weeks into shooting. Nine months later, within two weeks of the film’s release, Jackman was invited on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno (sandwiched between Lorraine Bracco and Eve 6), marking the first time most saw him clean-shaven and with his natural Aussie accent.
Now, the film itself is set in a near future where all televisions are HD, and there’s a seething, public distrust of mutants—those who discover at puberty that they possess a genetic abnormality, often resulting in random superhuman abilities. Those with these evolutionary gifts hide them for fear of violent persecution. When one teen girl discovers she’s no longer able to touch others without draining their life force, she leaves home, hitchhiking her way north to the fictional Laughlin City in snowy Alberta. It’s there that we first lay eyes on “The Wolverine”, shirtless, gulping down a shot of whiskey, and waiting for his next opponent in a rowdy bar’s chain link fighting cage.
Soon after grappling with an overzealous local oaf in the cage, Logan saunters up to the bar, now in all his well-worn regalia, and quietly orders a generic beer. Despite his unrivaled fighting skills, he seems content to keep to himself and eke out a humble, anonymous existence, echoing a classic Western trope. Of course, within the next five minutes he’ll have a knife and a shotgun pulled on him, forcing him to reveal his Adamantium claws, and then drift on down the highway. Just his luck, the next day he’ll be in a car accident, have his trailer explode, lose a fight to an even stronger, hairier mutant, and be kidnapped to Westchester while unconscious.
What’d He Wear?
Just as the character of Wolverine reflects a classic Western archetype, his clothes consist of many staples one might see on a traditional cowpoke. Over those, he wears a roadworthy motorcycle jacket that has seen better days. These layers reflect how guarded the character must be as he continually conceals his true nature amidst the bigotry that surrounds him. The distressed quality of each piece hints at how tough the last 15 years of drifting have been on him and perhaps how much violence he’s seen in that time.
For the film’s production in 1999, Vanson modified their typical “Café Racer” jacket style to create the new Wolf model, recently re-released as part of a limited edition “made exactly the way [they] made it for the movie studio.” (Please note that wolves and wolverines are not at all related, despite the words sharing a common etymology; wolves are canine, while wolverines are mustelids, like weasels and otters.)
Unlike similar jackets from other brands that Jackman would don later in the series, this one was fully made for riding, cut from dark brown competition-weight full-grain cowhide measuring 1.4 mm thick. It has a typical snap-closed mandarin collar with an extended rectangular tab on the left side. The jacket closes symmetrically with a straight, central zipper, and no wind-flap. All the hardware on it is made of silver-tone chrome.
While a jacket of this type would typically have straight chest and slanted side pockets, this one has a pair of long, diagonal, zippered chest pockets that start at the center of the chest and end around the lowest point of the rib cage. Similarly, while it’s very common for motorcycle jackets to have zippered cuffs, the cuff opening here is cut extra wide with an extremely long zipper that extends just past the wearer’s elbow.
Further differentiating this jacket are three contrasting “amber tan” leather arm stripes on the bicep of each arm, alluding to the three claws that Wolverine pops out of each hand. While each of the stripes is a bit torn and tattered, the top stripe on the left sleeve is completely gone, leaving behind only some yellow dye it shed while still attached.
Matching those six five stripes are two uniquely angular lower body panels. Beginning at the center opening, just above the belt line, the colored panels angle up and double in width as they travel around the sides of the jacket ending on the edge of the back panel. These are an homage to Wolverine’s costume in the comics from the ’80s to early ’90s.
The jacket carries many of the hallmarks of real riding gear, such as the bi-swing “action back” made with contoured shoulder gussets to allow more freedom of movement when reaching for handlebars. Likewise, the back panel is one solid piece of leather, providing much better protection in the event of a crash than one with multiple seams.
Beneath the leather jacket, the character fittingly dons a “Canadian tuxedo”, consisting of a denim jacket and jeans. The well-worn trucker jacket is made from a dark blue denim in the typical Type III style with V-shaped stitching running down from its chest seam. Though this jacket was made by Helmut Lang rather than Levi’s, it still carries the familiar six-button placket, chest pockets with pointed button-down flaps, shirt-style buttoning cuffs, nickel rivet buttons, and button-through waist cinches on the back corners of the waistband.
Compared to the jacket, the character’s jeans have a lighter wash and browner finish but are equally tarnished with small rips and frays throughout. They’re straight cut with a low rise, and bear no leather patch, decorative pocket stitching, or other branding to denote their origin.
The faded black belt he wears with them closes with a large buckle depicting the face and headdress of an American Indian tribal chief through yellow, brown, black, blue, green, and red paint. It has a central row of large grommets along its entire length, with smaller nickel rivets above and below each one.
The first shirt we see Logan in was made by Canadian brand Western Craft, and is made of a thin cotton flannel in a plaid of red, blue, green, and yellow, with a large white overcheck. It’s cut in a traditional Western style, with pointed front and back yokes and two flapped chest pockets. There are six pearlized white snap buttons down the front, set in a traditional placket, with three on each squared cuff and one in the middle of each sleeve gauntlet. As is common, the plaid fabric of the yokes and front placket are oriented at a 45-degree diagonal angle for some visual interest. Beneath that shirt, he wears a simple gray ribbed tank top as an undershirt, which would end up becoming a staple for the character.
Later in the film, once Wolverine has had time to acclimate to the X-Mansion (i.e. insult Cyclops, hit on Jean, and accidentally stab Rogue in the chest while having a nightmare), he dons his signature outfit again over a new set of shirts. The outermost button-up shirt is made of copper-colored cotton with a very large maroon paisley pattern. It has a regular fit, point collar, standard placket, charcoal mother-of-pearl buttons, and square shaped barrel cuffs. Unlike his other clothes, this shirt looks brand new. In the context of the story, since all his belongings blew up with his trailer a few days earlier, it’s logical to assume that the shirt was borrowed from tthe nearby closet of some prick that never takes off his sunglasses.
Beneath that dressier shirt is a black thermal, long-sleeve T-shirt with a waffle-knit texture. Based on this auction listing, he may have also worn a plain, long-sleeve black T under that. That would bring the total number of top layers on Logan to a whopping five! Honestly, at what point do you just consider buying a down-filled parka?
Throughout the film, Logan appears to be wearing a pair of black roper boots. This minimalist style of pull-on boot has long been popular out West, and this pair has a plain, round toe. They’re finished with slightly raised heels and brown leather soles beneath black rubber half soles.
The character’s sole accessory throughout the film is the single Canadian dog tag, hanging from a stainless steel ball chain, on a smaller matching loop. Curiously, there’s only one tag, the writing of which is situated upside down, and it’s the one that would be mailed back to the government in the event of the wearer’s death. The tag reads “458 25 243” on the top line and “WOLVERINE” on the second. Those first nine digits are theoretically Logan’s Social Insurance Number, and given the fact that he has no memory of his identity—or even his full name—he might want to spend a couple of minutes Googling it on a library computer.
How to Get the Look
You can build the look for yourself or seek out Hugh Jackman’s screen-worn pieces as auctioned since the production, including Logan’s leather jacket and flannel shirt, his double denim, belt, and paisley shirt, his dog tag and chain, and his signature claws.
- Dark brown café racer leather jacket with extended snap-tab mandarin collar, long, angled front zip-up pockets, 3 amber-colored stripes on each arm, amber colored lower body panels, shoulder gussets, one-piece back, and long zippered cuffs
- Dark blue distressed denim Type III-style trucker jacket
- Western-style plaid flannel snap shirt in red, blue, green, yellow, and white
- … or rust-colored shirt with large paisley pattern, standard placket, square button cuffs, and gray mother of pearl buttons
- Gray ribbed tank top undershirt
- … or black thermal long-sleeve T-shirt
- Blue faded denim five-pocket straight-cut jeans
- Black leather belt with nickel grommets and rivets, and a large, painted American Indian chief belt buckle
- Black leather plain-toe roper-style boots with brown leather soles and black rubber half soles
- Single Canadian dog tag on stainless steel ball link chain
- Adamantium-plated skeleton with three 10.6″ claws emerging from between the knuckles of each hand
Do Yourself a Favor and…
Take your shirt off, glug down some whiskey, and check out the movie, bub.
There’s not many people that will understand what you’re going through, but I think this guy Xavier’s one of them. He seems to genuinely want to help you, and that’s a rare thing… for people like us. Okay, so what do you say? Give these geeks one more shot? Come on, I’ll take care of you.
Wearing a leather cafe racer jacket over a trucker jacket…strange idea.