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Motorcycle club members wearing cut-offs bearing various patches Gypsy Joker Protest Run 5.jpg
Motorcycle club members wearing cut-offs bearing various patches
Biker's vintage cut-off adorned with club badges Kutte Motorrad vorn.jpg
Biker's vintage cut-off adorned with club badges

A cut-off, battle jacket, battle vest or kutte in heavy metal subcultures, is a type of vest or jacket which originated in the U.S. military, specifically the Army Air Corps, where pilots and other aviation personnel would collect patches or other insignia to put on regulation bomber jackets or flight suits. The practice continued within the biker subculture and auto racing subculture and later found popularity in punk and various heavy metal subcultures. Biker, auto racing, metal and punk subcultures differ in how the garment is prepared, what decorations are applied, and how this is done.


Cut-offs are usually made from leather or denim jackets with their sleeves removed, or cut very short, and often adorned with patches, badges and painted artwork that display motorcycle club affiliations known as colours, [1] [2] or alternatively band names, political affiliations, beliefs, or sexual acts performed. [3]

In the 1970s and 1980s, cut-offs were almost always blue denim. Thrash metal fans favoured heavily washed denim, while members of one British motorcycle club bleached theirs until they were almost white.[ citation needed ] From the mid to late 1990s, some punks and metalheads have worn multi-pocketed hunting or fishing vests, both in plain colours and camouflage patterns, and leather cut-offs—always popular with punks,[ citation needed ] and with bikers in recent decades.

Punk vests are often made from leather and heavily decorated with metal studs Anti-NowhereLeague-1-Augustibuller2007.jpg
Punk vests are often made from leather and heavily decorated with metal studs

Punk and hardcore

In punk subculture cut-offs are often leather, but can also be denim. Typical decorations are metal studs and badges (often painted-on) of bands or political causes, with cloth patches being secondary, ultimately because of the difficulty of doing the required needlework on tough leather. In addition, sleeves are more likely to be kept attached to the body of the jacket. As part of the DIY philosophy of the hardcore punk scene, the vests may be home-repaired with heavy thread, dental floss, or safety pins, and the band logos may be put on using paint and crude home-made stencils. Some wearers also drape chains or other paraphernalia from the vest.

Heavy metal/hard rock fans with vests Battlevests.jpg
Heavy metal/hard rock fans with vests

Heavy metal

Cut-offs in the heavy metal scene are often adorned with patches of logos and album covers of bands, ranging in size from small square patches to large patches that fill the back panel of the vest. The cut-off patch jackets first got popular during the NWOBHM (New wave of British heavy metal). Patches are the main decoration. Studs and badges also adorn cut-offs and continue to be popular to this day.

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<span class="mw-page-title-main">Skinhead</span> Working-class youth sub-culture

A skinhead is a member of a subculture which originated among working class youths in London, England, in the 1960s and soon spread to other parts of the United Kingdom, with a second working class skinhead movement emerging worldwide in the late 1970s. Motivated by social alienation and working class solidarity, skinheads are defined by their close-cropped or shaven heads and working-class clothing such as Dr. Martens and steel toe work boots, braces, high rise and varying length straight-leg jeans, and button-down collar shirts, usually slim fitting in check or plain. The movement reached a peak at the end of the 1960s, experienced a revival in the 1980s, and, since then, has endured in multiple contexts worldwide.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Punk fashion</span> Fashion of punk subculture

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<span class="mw-page-title-main">Belt (clothing)</span> Worn band or braid, usually around the waist or hips

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<span class="mw-page-title-main">Leather subculture</span> Subculture involving leather garments

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<span class="mw-page-title-main">Waistcoat</span> Sleeveless upper-body garment

A waistcoat, or vest, is a sleeveless upper-body garment. It is usually worn over a dress shirt and necktie and below a coat as a part of most men's formal wear. It is also sported as the third piece in the traditional three-piece male suit. Any given waistcoat can be simple or ornate, or for leisure or luxury. Historically, the waistcoat can be worn either in the place of, or underneath, a larger coat, dependent upon the weather, wearer, and setting.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Heavy metal fashion</span> Performer and fan worn attire as representing heavy metal music

Heavy metal fashion is the style of dress, body modification, make-up, hairstyle, and so on, taken on by fans of heavy metal, or, as they are often called, metalheads or headbangers. While the style has changed from the 1970s to the 2020s, certain key elements have remained constant, such as black clothes, long hair and leather jackets. In the 1980s, some bands began wearing spandex. Other attire includes denim or leather vests or jackets with band patches and logos, t-shirts with band names, and spiked wristbands.

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<span class="mw-page-title-main">Rocker (subculture)</span> Biker subculture members in the United Kingdom

Rockers, leather boys, Ton-up boys, and possibly café racers are members of a biker subculture that originated in the United Kingdom during the 1950s. It was mainly centred on British café racer motorcycles and rock 'n' roll music. By 1965, the term greaser had also been introduced to Great Britain and, since then, the terms greaser and rocker have become synonymous within the British Isles, although used differently in North America and elsewhere. Rockers were also derisively known as Coffee Bar Cowboys. Their Japanese counterpart was called the Kaminari-Zoku.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Outlaw motorcycle club</span> Motorcycle subculture

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Denim and Leather is the fourth studio album by English heavy metal band Saxon released in 1981. The album was certified Gold status in the U.K. This was the last album with the classic line up of Saxon, as drummer Pete Gill would leave the band due to a hand injury, later joining Motörhead; this was also seen as the last of their triptych of classic albums.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Turbojugend</span>

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<span class="mw-page-title-main">1980s in fashion</span> Costume and fashion in the 1980s

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<span class="mw-page-title-main">Workwear</span> Clothing that is worn in the exercise of a service profession, a craft or an engineering profession

Workwear is clothing worn for work, especially work that involves manual labour. Often those employed within trade industries elect to be outfitted in workwear because it is built to provide durability and safety.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Leather jacket</span> Jacket made of leather

A leather jacket is a jacket-length coat that is usually worn on top of other apparel or item of clothing, and made from the tanned hide of various animals. The leather material is typically dyed black, or various shades of brown, but a wide range of colors is possible. Leather jackets can be designed for many purposes, and specific styles have been associated with subcultures such as greasers, motorcyclists and bikers, mobsters, military aviators and music subcultures, who have worn the garment for protective or fashionable reasons, and occasionally to create a potentially intimidating appearance.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Colors (motorcycling)</span>

Colors are the insignia, or "patches", worn by motorcycle club members on cut-off vests to identify membership of their club and territorial location. Club patches have been worn by many different groups since the 1960s. They are regarded by many to symbolize an elite amongst motorcyclists and the style has been widely copied by other subcultures and commercialized.

Fans of heavy metal music have created their own subculture that encompasses more than just appreciation of the style of music. Fans affirm their membership in the subculture or scene by attending metal concerts, buying albums, growing their hair long in most to all cases, wearing jackets or vests often made of denim and leather, adorned with band patches and often studs, and since the early 1980s, by contributing to metal publications.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">2020s in fashion</span> Fashion-related events during the 2020s

The fashions of the 2020s represent a departure from 2010s fashion and a nostalgia for older aesthetics. They have been largely inspired by styles of the early to mid-2000s, late 1990s, 1980s, 1970s, and 1960s. Early in the decade, The Face remarked on the rapid nostalgia cycle in 2020s fashion: "We’re trapped in what might be called a revival spiral".


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  2. Hendley, Nate. American Gangsters, Then and Now: An Encyclopedia.
  3. Hummer, Don. Handbook of Police Administration. p. 276.