A brief history of driving gloves

Sep 16, 2013

Old racing adGlove-making is a dying trade. That’s the sad reality. But we live in an increasingly bare-handed world. There are few artisans out there capable of crafting the glove, and crafting it well. Plenty of fashion outlets flog such things on a dusty, neglected rack, ignorantly priced and not aimed at anyone in particular. They’re a sorry sight. Few are aware what makes the male leather racing glove distinctly British and fewer still are privy to the secret history that makes this item cool.

For those of you who are 100+ year old retired racing drivers you can rest on your laurels, you’ve earned some rest, but everyone else on the internet needs a quick history lesson to appreciate the leather racer and why they deserve a secure place in any self-respecting gent’s glove compartment.

Like other male sports orientated around engines, crashing into things, petrol-fuelled infernos, testosterone, adrenaline and other primitive hormones, image plays an important part. Image is as second only to winning (and I made that phrase up myself).

Early motorists cottoned onto this almost as soon as motor racing began to find its feet in 1890s rural France. They wanted finesse as well as results. By the turn of the century classic motor racing found its way into the summer Olympics and the sport began to take shape into what would eventually become Formula One.   

Driving gloves

 Before the 1950s the early automobiles still had wooden steering wheels: big wooden steering wheels. The only way designers could offer drivers more leverage was to increase the wheel size. In the old days drivers had to work a lot harder to getting around corners. Vintage roadsters were also hardly weather proof. Getting rained on would seriously impair performance so drivers began to wear racing gloves.

As well as the goggles and the pilot-hat the racing gloves took on a style of their own and began to personify the sport, particularly the Gauntlet style glove.

But by the time the sport truly found its wings and the cars modernised gloves were no longer needed to keep the hands warm. The iconic Gauntlet design was thinned out and became tighter fitting whilst still retaining their grip. During the 1960s the Cut Back leather glove design emerged out of the petrol-head circles to become a general fashion must.

Monsieur London are on a glove-quest to fix glove-ignorance in British male society. And we’ve made a darn good start with our leather range. You don’t have to fork out for an Audi or risk looking like Alan Partridge to own a pair of these puppies. They generally compliment any dark cotton coat in the autumn/winter season. In black, brown or grey, don’t be discouraged, you know the history, now step forward and treat yourself to a pair.

Drive responsibly.

James Fredrick Gray


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