When the X-Men turned up in Bryan Singer’s 2000 film outfitted head to toe in leather, it was a milestone of sorts, a first step toward “functionality” in our cinematic superhero costumes - but really, a conscious attempt to shift away from the inherent “silliness” of the superhero costume. As the core comic book fanbase aged into their 30s and 40s, making the colorful superheroes of our childhood less “silly” became a real priority for filmmakers. From Wolverine’s onscreen jab about yellow spandex, to Christopher Nolan’s grounded re-imagining of Gotham City, to the kid-unfriendly neck-snapping of Watchmen and Man Of Steel (probably to be continued, one assumes, in Batman V. Superman: Dawn Of Justice*). And as we drag our childhood passions into middle age, marketing wizards have followed suit. In the past it’s been via high-end collectibles: Hot Toys action figures, 1:1 busts by Alex Ross, or intricate prop replicas. But now the past 15 years of superhero fashion have, purists be damned, opened up another avenue of revenue, throwing us into a new age of stealthy - and pricey - cosplay.
To wit: Matchless’ new line of apparel called “Avengers Atelier”, a licensed series of high-end leather jackets that might make wearers feel mighty, incredible, or even invincible, but will definitely make one feel lighter in the wallet. Or not - maybe you’re a hardcore Hulk fan who takes home six figures and dropping a G on one of these jackets is NBD to you. What’s fascinating about this line to me is that someone, as a grown-ass man with a superhero boner, might be moved to spend 1700 dollars on a leather jacket because they know Steve Rogers wears it in Avengers: Age Of Ultron, but to the outside world, it’s just a killer, well-made jacket. It’s a really interesting new wrinkle in the evolution of superhero merch, aging up with the demographic, moving from $400 action figures to $2000 items of clothing that don't have superhero logos anywhere on them.
This is old hat for affluent James Bond nerds, who routinely line up to shell out six grand for the newest Omega watch or Tom Ford suit (or a quarter million for an Aston Martin), but for middle-aged, well-off cats looking to scratch their ancient Underoos itch, we're entering a new age.
Do you like these? Fury and Thor’s coats are a little much, but I think Banner’s and Cap’s jackets are actually pretty stylish, as is the “Osborne” (huh? Is this Hawkeye? Does Green Goblin turn up in AoU?). Unsurprisingly, the “Natasha” is actual hot sex in jacket form. Anyway, Thor and Banner are already out of stock, so if you're into this, fire up your Amex and head over to Matchless while you can.