A good leather jacket is the ultimate wardrobe staple for both men and women. Buying a high-quality leather jacket is often considered a one time, long-term investment due to the toll it can take on anybody’s pocket. It is meant to be timeless, long-lasting and be greatly versatile to serve multiple functions.
With so many options out there, buying a good leather jacket can become extremely complicated and confusing. This post will guide you through all the stages of buying a perfect leather jacket. It will be focusing on all the factors to look for when buying a leather jacket so that you don’t end up regretting your decision after spending a considerable amount.
Evaluating a Leather Jacket
Leather jackets can range from anywhere between $200 to $3000, sometimes maybe more. So each jacket should be evaluated in relation to its price – Is it providing the best value for the bucks it cost?
This post will only cover real leather, and will not include faux or ‘vegan’ leather. Following are the seven primary factors that you should look for while evaluating a leather jacket:
1- Leather Type & Quality
The most crucial and important part of a leather jacket is the leather used in it. It can be very difficult for a normal person, who has not much knowledge on this subject to identify what is what. You could do worse than learning about leather in detail before buying your dream leather jacket.
The first thing to consider is what animal skin you want your leather jacket to be made from. It’s purely a subjective matter and will be determined by the functionality and available budget.
While there are many animals from which skin is obtained; cow, lamb and calf skins are the big ones.
Cowhide is known for strength, toughness and is extremely durable. Men’s Biker jackets are mostly made using a cowhide. On the other hand, lambskin is extremely soft and supple but very expensive, often used for premium products.
As it has both properties: softness and durability – Calfskin, of a young cow, is more expensive than lamb.
Grading or Leather Type
The second thing to decide is about the grading or type of leather: Full-grain leather, top-grain leather, genuine or corrected leather.
Entire hide is used in full-grain leather in its natural state with marks, scars and patterns are retained and not altered. It ages well with use and is higher in price as only best quality hides are suitable.
Top-grain leather is split from bottom layers, it is thinner and flexible than full-grain and remains the same throughout its life. Putting functionality aside, top-grain leather is used to make most fashion jackets (where the look is the main thing).
Corrected grain is the lowest quality grade, processed to make it look like higher grades.
The final point to look for is the finishing of leather; Aniline, semi-aniline will be the terms you will often come across in this regard.
Aniline leather is kept in its natural form with all the marks and blemishes and is more expensive but is susceptible to damage from water and sunlight.
Semi-aniline leather is slightly pigmented to get rid of marks and blemishes, it is more rugged and durable than aniline leather.
Additionally, when talking about leather type and quality, it is important to mention double-face/shearling leather.
The skin of a recently shorn sheep or lamb that has been tanned and treated with the wool intact is what we call shearling leather. Shearling jackets, therefore, are the most expensive ones in the market.
As a rule of thumb, jackets made with fewer panels making fewer joints would be more expensive than a jacket made with many panels and forming many joints.
There are exceptions though; where a jacket, having many panels and forming many joints may also be expensive due to detailing, embroidery or embellishment that is used alongside the panels and joints.
These factors have an impact on the cost of production which is also reflected in the price of the jacket.
To cut prices, manufacturers make jackets using different leftovers, excess or remaining leather and wastage from other skins.
Although jackets made with single panels are expensive because of good selection, it may not necessarily have any bearing on the quality of the final product.
3- Inner Lining
The inner lining is an extra layer of fabric which adds more weight to the jacket. It helps to firmly tug down the jacket on your shoulders and makes for a smooth fall from top to bottom. The inner lining also absorbs sweat in some cases, is soft, warm and makes for comfortable wearing.
Many people don’t realize that they have the option to choose fabric for the inner lining, make it plain or quilted or remove the inner lining altogether, especially when buying custom-made jackets from high-end places.
Type of fabric used in the inner lining and the qualities it offers will also have a bearing on the price of a jacket. Bemberg lining is considered to be the best option for the inner lining. It is breathable, light and has a silky touch.
Jackets without inner lining are light, breathable but expensive due to more interior finishing required and added complications in producing them.
4- Stitching & Craftsmanship
Clean stitching in a jacket tantamounts to jacket being of the highest quality, evidence of great effort put into making the jacket. A good leather jacket will be stitched with strong polyester thread evenly and thickly with no loose ends.
Additionally, decorative stitching on pockets and seams is a very desirable detail among jackets enthusiasts. Decorative stitching and details in a jacket require extra effort which leads to an increase in price.
Examining the accessories used in a leather jacket can be a great and easy way to judge the quality of a jacket or a brand. One must make sure before buying a particular jacket that it must contain quality accessories.
Accessories, also called embellishments, include zippers, patches, motifs, studs, eyelets, and buttons (Snap, coat buttons), etc.
For zippers, YKK and RiRi zippers are well-known. Its use means that other components used in the jacket would be of good quality. These zippers are shinier, stronger and smoother in zipping up.
6- Leather Jacket Styles
When buying a leather jacket, there are several different styles to choose from. Double Riders aka the classic biker jackets, Cafe Racers, Flight jackets, and Bombers are the most popular.
Other contemporary styles are leather blazers and leather trench-coats, leather vests, or seasonal leather jackets that include windbreakers and shearling leather jackets and coats.
7- Leather Jacket Fit
A pretty valid point to remember before you buy a leather jacket is the cut and fit. These two aspects can make or break your chances of looking good in your leather jacket, regardless of where you got it.
If you like the look of a jacket, chances are that’s because it is cut well. This gives the jacket a nice shape. Regarding the fit of the jacket, and this can only be established once you’ve tried it on, is how the jacket fits you.
You want to make sure the shoulder seams of the jacket are in line with or as close to your shoulder points as possible. Too high or too low simply won’t work.
Next, you should check the armholes, just like the shoulders, the armholes ought to be as comfortably high as possible. The higher the armhole the better the fit. The lower the armhole, the jacket will be in constant movement. Not a pretty sight.
The sleeves of your jacket should fall either at the end of your wrist, just before your palm or on the base of your thumb. The sleeves width shouldn’t be too tight but not too loose either. You should be able to raise both arms comfortably.
The length of your jacket should end at the waistband of your pants. Provided you’re not one who wears your pants half off your butt.
All the factors discussed above will determine the right price for any particular leather jacket. If any of the factors, in a jacket, are not according to the points stated above, the price will go down accordingly.