Fingerless gloves date way back to the days of the Greeks and Romans, where they were used considerably for their practicality and to carry out specific tasks requiring finger dexterity such as stitching and embroidery. They were quite popular with the wealthy classes in the 16th century, who liked to display the flashiness of their rings. These gloves were crafted out of fine leathers, silk, or velvet, and came in different lengths and styles. Some had lovely tassels and others were richly embroidered (Sichel, 1977, p. 11, 25).
Also the first make shift gloves made were called caestas, and were made for the Greek boxers. They were a make shift boxing glove that involved wrapping leather straps and metal blades around the boxers hands, they remind me a bit of the movie 300.
Next up was the fashion fad of fingerless gloves in the 80s. It began in 1983 and faded prematurely by 1986. The gloves were made with every material known to man, regardless of the fabrication used they were almost always patterned. The general demographic who wore the gloves were young men and women starting from their teenage years through to their twenties. The fingerless gloves were also referred to as hobo gloves, motorcyle gloves, driving gloves and dirt bike gloves. Black fingerless gloves were most common, however every colour, finish, and combination was made including neon which was so coeval in the 80s. They were worn both independently so that the fingers showed and also worn with gloves with fingers to create colour and texture contrast.
The gloves made a huge impact whereby, being made to order for specific outfits for fashionable attire but also in athletic sports wear, where they were used to complete the outfit during this fad. Thus the gloves were available across the fashion market, where they were made in designer versions as well as mass market versions available for consumers. It's also said that the reason the fingerless gloves were popular in the 80s was because of the publicity and promotion received by the fashion press like Vogue, who published photo editorials of a variety of gloves in 1983. They were said to be by the magazine as the "standout accessory" of '83' and were pictured in layered combinations which were styled by the edgy fashion eye of avante garde designer Jean Paul Gaultier.
On another note this wearing fingerless glove fad was part of a much larger trend, which was layering and accessorising that dominated much of the 1980s and that spawned fashions such as layered socks, stacked bracelets, necklaces, and earrings worn in multiples. Both sexes wore layers of jewellery such as bracelets with their fingerless gloves to create a heavily decorated and textured hand and forearm. This fad was also related to pop culture and mass media. It is clear and widely recognised that many influential musicians wore fingerless gloves regularly and there is also evidence of them used in mainstream cinema. Artists include Madonna who you see sporting a lace pair in her 1983 music video for 'Lucky Star', also Billy Idol who wears a leather studded glove on one hand for his video 'Rebel Yell' (1983) and last but not least legendary George Michael from the band Wham who wore a pair of neon orange gloves in the video for 'Wake Me up before You Go Go' (1984). Therefore this fad also shows us how the fashion industry responded to style trends that were created in popular culture.
Back in the 80s wearing fingerless gloves was a way to give your outfit an edgy expressive look which embodied character and style. It's a very similar characteristic even now with recent fads that take over in fashion and sometimes subside but then resurface as time goes on depending on the general consensus to what the next big thing is going around. Also what is quite interesting is that back in the 16th century these gloves were represented by wealth and now are a representation of homelessness.
Fashion is a dictatorship of past, present and future trends. An expressive machine used to display style, colour and fabrication for the mass uses. Much like how our identity is perceived in society, only difference between then and now is that back then it wasn't a competition, it was a way of life.