How to Buy First Leather Jacket for Man12.08.2022
It can be very stressful to buy a leather jacket. An investment in a quality leather jacket is a good one. It is meant to last forever.mIt’s almost like getting a tattoo. You get what you pay, and it shows.
Just like your first tattoo, you become so anxious about making the wrong choice that you end up in research mode. In all my years of being a menswear designer, leather jackets were what I was most passionate about. Here’s my exact advice to 1-on-1 clients who are looking for a serious leather jacket or to replace an old one.
Motorcycle leather jacket vs Fashion leather jacket
You may be asking, “Aren’t they the exact same thing?”. It’s crucial to understand the differences before you spend your hard-earned cash.
Motorcycle leather jackets serve a very important purpose: to protect you from an accident. Motorcycle jackets made of thicker leathers will have plates sewn in key areas, such as the shoulders. They will also be shorter to allow for more comfort when seated.
Fashion jackets are made of delicate, softer leathers such as lamb and calfskin. These are my two favorite fashion jackets. They make you look great and flatter your figure, so they are usually longer and more stylish.
You can ride your motorcycle with a leather jacket, but it won’t protect you as well. You can wear a motorcycle jacket instead of a leather jacket, but I don’t recommend it if you want to be stylish. (Just being real here.)
What should I spend on leather jackets?
It is difficult to find a quality, NEW leather jacket under $500. Here’s my usual opinion on price and quality: Higher price is usually a sign of higher quality. Reputable brands won’t mark up clothes arbitrarily to make a large profit margin.
You are the consumer. The internet spreads information quickly. It will be called out for its terrible quality and high price. Keep this in mind: You can’t make something great at a low price. For a reason, cheap things are often not as good quality.
Although you can buy a $150 jacket from Asos for the same price as the $4,000+ Saint Laurent jacket here, it’s like comparing gas station sushi to an omakase at Michelin Star Jiros. It is more important how clothes feel than how they look.
It’s just not fair. Let’s not make a million comments about indie designers and used leather jackets. You are like me. I love finding great deals and buying second-hand. I have even developed a resource to help you find amazing deals. Sometimes you can’t wait for the right jacket to appear, so you have to spend time searching.
Sometimes all you want is to be able to walk into a store and find exactly what you are looking for in ten minutes. For new leather jackets, I suggest budgeting at minimum $750. This is roughly the price of a Schott jacket. To be safe, I advise my clients to save $1,000 for a quality leather jacket.
There are differences between a $500 leather jacket and a $2,000+ well-made jacket:
A. The quality and type of leather
Cheaper jackets made from corrected leather will often be cheaper than those made with skins that have been chemically treated to make them look better. These treatments can affect the skin’s ability to feel, last and breathe. They will eventually split and crack over time, leaving you with a worn-out leather jacket.
Not all leather jackets include topstitching. However, you will often find it in well-designed jackets. Although they are mainly decorative, they can add a lot of style to a jacket. It’s like bolding text. Jackets made well will have topstitches that stand out. Budget jackets will use thinner thread or skip topstitching.
C. Cut and fit
Low priced jackets can be so expensive that brands need to sell more. They design jackets that fit as many people as possible to achieve this goal. Low-priced jackets may be less flattering for many people because they are more generously cut.
A general rule of design is that more details equals more work = more expensive to make. Jackets with high-end features will include more details such as seams, pockets, zipper details and other details.
E. Zipper quality
Leather jackets with higher end will use high-quality, heavy-duty zippers. They can withstand all the pulling and are buttery smooth to work with. RiRi is my favorite high-end zipper and they are about 10-15x more expensive that standard YKK zippers.
F. Sleeve & The body lining
A commonly overlooked component of a garment. A lining should be breathable, comfortable, and long-lasting. Cupro, a silk-like fabric made of the waste parts from the cotton plant, and plain cotton twills are my favorite types of leather jacket linings. Jackets with high-end quality will have two linings. The jacket’s body is lined with a thicker fabric, while the sleeves are lined with a smooth fabric that is easy to slip on. Cheap jackets will only have one synthetic lining, which is more prone to ripping.
Why you SHOULDN’T Get the Double Rider Jacket as Your First Jacket
The Schott Perfecto. This jacket is also known as the “Double Rider”, because it has two breasts.
This jacket is the one that everyone associates with leather jackets. But, when it comes time to purchasing a genuine leather jacket, it’s something I advise men to avoid at all costs.
A tight, minimal wardrobe that is versatile is something I love. The cafe racer is the best when it comes versatility. Cafe Racer’s signature features include its minimalist design, tab collar, center zip, and zippered pockets. Here’s why.
You can’t go wrong with casual or formal when it comes to casual vs. professional. Consider a graphic tshirt versus a plain tshirt. A pair of solid, dark indigo jeans will have rips instead of faded jeans. Solid button-up shirt vs. printed button-up shirt. The combination of double riders and rockers with extra zippers, snaps and details gives off a casual atmosphere. Cafe racers are much more minimalist, so you can do it even in casual business situations.
Which color should you choose?
Take into account the vibe. Both brown and black can be worn with any number of tops or pants. Black can be a little more edgy, while brown is more relaxed.
Black is my first choice for any style of leather jacket. Sometimes I will consider buying a second main in brown or another color once I have my black main.
Another thing to think about is the type of footwear that you are wearing. Match your shoes with the color of your boots, shoes for business, and so on. Your leather jacket and belt should match. You don’t have to worry about matching shoes.
What should it look like?
The Key Fit Points
- Shoulders – Make sure your shoulder seams are as close to your shoulders as possible.
- Armholes – The better the fit, the higher the armholes. Your jacket will move if it is too low. Low armholes are a sign that your jacket is too large or poorly cut.
- Sleeve – The sleeves should be snug but not too tight. Leather jackets have the sleeves that end at my wrists and the base of my thumb.
- Length – Aim for your waist, or just enough to cover the belt. Designers who make long jackets, such as Rick Owens, work best for tall men.
For shopping, I suggest wearing a tee shirt and a button-up shirt to help you choose the right jacket. While you want to be tighter, you should still be able move and punch someone in their face if necessary.
One simple visual test: Zip your jacket up so that it makes you stand straight like a soldier.
People often underestimate the amount of leather jackets can stretch. It all depends on the leather. A thicker cowhide will be more flexible than a lambskin. However, I wouldn’t be surprised if your jacket doesn’t fit you well after a while. Sizing up.
The sleeves are the biggest problem for short men. When it comes to leather jackets, the sleeves are more relaxed than a blazer. While you can pull your sleeves up and have them stack, some men still find that too long sleeves can be problematic when they go out to shop. If this jacket is your main leather jacket, I recommend that you have the sleeves shortened. Perfect is a sleeve that hits at the wrist, or 1/4 inch longer.
You don’t have to try out every style and go to the tailor. There is another alternative. Schott is a brand that does custom work in all of their classic styles. Although you will pay a premium for this jacket, the price is still very reasonable at just $1,000. It’s a great deal, especially when you consider the $2,500+ designer jackets which might be too long. You can alter everything, from the jacket length to the sleeve length. Although there are leather jackets made for shorter men (like this one from Peter Manning), it is not my experience.
Do you need a recommendation? These are some of my current favorite recipes
- Entry level: Schott NYC Perfect PH571 Lightweight Cafe Racer $700
- It’s a little mid-range jacket from Theory Racer, $1000
- Saint Laurent Racer Jacket, $3900