The image of the commissars and employees of the ominous Cheka is inseparable from the leather jacket, which has become the same symbol of the revolution as the cruiser Aurora or the sailors wrapped in machine-gun belts.
In Soviet Russia in 1917-1920s, the leather jacket in the minds of ordinary Soviet citizens acquired a symbolic meaning, became a marker of social status and an attribute of "red" commissars. Many young people loyal to the authorities, who forged iron Bolsheviks from themselves, tried to get themselves a leather jacket by any means.
The emergence of popularity
In essence, the appearance of leather jackets as an inseparable attribute of the image of the Chekists is a fairly typical episode of the penetration of military uniforms into civilian everyday clothing in post-war times. Leather military uniforms appeared in Russia at the beginning of the 20th century; initially, according to the charter, only pilots could wear it. After the appearance of armored divisions in the Russian army, a leather double-breasted jacket also became the uniform of the officer corps of these armored units. Since leather clothing combined comfort and good durability, before the war, civilian aeronautics and chauffeurs began to wear leather jackets.
After the publication of the famous Order No. 1, during the February Revolution, discipline in the Russian troops collapsed. Many foppish officers of other types of troops, ignoring the regulations, also began to wear leather jackets. The October coup that followed made it possible for all commissars and Red Guards of all ranks and stripes to wear "fashionable" leather jackets.
Obtaining iconic status
Leather jackets became a real symbol of belonging to the highest revolutionary organs after wearing them became spontaneous. At a certain point, the Soviet government decided to stop amateur performances in wearing leather uniforms, separating the real time-tested cadres from pseudo-revolutionaries and disguised bandits. Since the spring of 1918, a strict account of all leather jackets, caps and breeches has been organized in Moscow. In the autumn of the same year, an order was issued prohibiting the sale of leather military clothing, also requiring all owners of individual elements of leather uniforms to take all the goods to a special warehouse.
In addition, the Bolsheviks warned all merchants that those who violated this order would face punishment to the fullest extent of the revolutionary laws, this meant only one thing - execution without trial or investigation. After the appearance of this order, any person who bought or sold leather military clothing just for the occasion could easily get shot without clarifying the circumstances. Now everyone knew that the one who was wearing a leather jacket was directly related to the power structures. This is how leather flight jackets, caps and breeches for several years became practically the official uniform of red commissars, security officers and top revolutionary leaders. Although already in the second half of the 1920s, with the strengthening of the NEP, the leather jacket lost its status as a symbolic thing and was considered an anachronism.
There are also versions that lice - carriers of typhus - did not settle in the seams of leather clothes, it was convenient for cruel red commissars to wash off the blood of executed people from leather clothes, the Bolsheviks simply plundered a huge warehouse of unused army uniforms.