They beat leather for eight months

„The Bikeriders” costume designer Erin Benach had eight months to create the leather jackets.

Jeff Nichols’ latest drama follows a Midwestern biker club in the 1960s, inspired by Danny Lyon’s 1967 photo book about the Outlaws motorcycle club. Austin Butler, Tom Hardy and Michael Shannon star as leather-clad bike riders. With a limited budget and short production time, Benach had to choose wisely which jackets he was going to make and which ones he was going to make.

„It can be a viewer challenge: Which is original and which is manufactured? Which is vintage?” Benach laughs.

In the film, set in the 1960s, Benach tried to find a thick, calfskin.

„It was really hard to find,” she admits. Modern leather is soft, high quality, supple and affordable. Once she received the leather, she had to go through the process of distressing and aging each jacket. „I had to make it into a character. I had to make the jackets I was wearing look like they lived,” Benach says.

Once they went through that process, she and her team sandblasted them and beat them. No two jackets are alike; They are customized for each actor.

Tom Hardy stars as Johnny in director Jeff Nichols' The Bikeriders, a Focus Features release.  Credit: Kyle Kaplan/Focus Features.  © 2024 Focus Features, LLC.  All rights reserved.

Tom Hardy’s Johnny played a healthy silhouette as the leader of the pack.
Kyle Kaplan/Focus Features

Hardy’s Johnny is a generation older than the other riders in the film and has a wife and family. Benach’s approach was to make him „healthy”.

„I want his silhouette to be different,” Benach says. „He was very much from the 1950s and I wanted to bring that out. I created a denim silhouette that was different from the other guys.

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By contrast, Butler’s Penny was indifferent. „Everything looked effortless and he didn’t care. She gave Benny an oversized, draped silhouette. „He was so dirty, all our dirt was paint. designed and deliberate.”

Austin Butler stars as Penny in director Jeff Nichols' The Bikeriders.  Credit: Bryan Schutmaat/Focus Features © 2024 Focus Features, LLC.  All rights reserved.

Austin Butler’s look was deliberately effortless.
Bryan Schutmaat/Focus Features

Jodie Comer plays Benny’s girlfriend Kathy. It’s important to Benach and Nichols that Commerce Cathy Biker isn’t a chick. „She’s not that conformist. She’s unique, her own person,” Benach explains.

Peg pants and a sleeveless sweater top add softness and texture to the character against the leather and denim of the gang members.

During the 13-year-long storyline, Benach made extensive use of purples and pinks. Kamar mainly wore knits and knit sweaters. „It represented Kathy in the 1960s,” Benach says. „By the time he got into the ’70s, his palette had turned to browns, oranges and greens.”

(L to R) Mike Feist as Danny and Jodi Comer as Cathy in director Jeff Nichols' The Bikeriders.  Credit: Kyle Kaplan/Focus Features © 2024 Focus Features, LLC.  All rights reserved.

Jodie Comer’s Cathy was given a soft texture against denim and leathers.
Kyle Kaplan/Focus Features

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