A truly great leather jacket can make a serious impact on the wardrobe of both men and women. Buying a high-quality leather jacket can also make a serious dent in your bank account but it is often considered a one time, long-term investment. It is meant to be timeless, long lasting and be greatly versatile to serve multiple functions. In fact, it can be worn at all times of the day and for any occasion.
There are a lot of options in the market and choosing a good quality leather jacket can become extremely complicated and confusing. This post will focus on all the factors to look for when buying a leather jacket to help and guide you through all the stages in choosing the right one. With this, you don’t end up regretting your decision after spending a considerable amount of money.
This post will only cover real leather, and will not include faux or ‘vegan’ leather. The following are the five primary factors that you should look for while evaluating a leather jacket:
1. Leather Type and Quality
The leather used is the most significant part of the leather jacket. It can be very difficult for a normal person, who has not much knowledge on this subject to identify what is what. But the following things you should consider in this aspect.
Type of animal skin
Of course, you should consider 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 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 – Calf skin, of a young cow, is more expensive than lamb.
Type of leather or grading
The next you should decide on is the type of leather whether you’ll go for full-grain leather, top-grain leather, genuine or corrected leather.
The 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. Inner lining also absorbs sweat in some cases, is soft, warm and makes for a comfortable wearing.
Many people don’t realize that they have the option to choose fabric for 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 inner lining and the qualities it offers will also have a bearing on the price of a jacket. Bemberg lining is 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 highest quality, evidence of great effort put into making the jacket. A good leather jacket is 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 jackets 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.
Leather jackets are undeniably expensive but also depends on the type of leather jacket. The above-mentioned factors will determine the right price for any particular leather jacket. The price goes down, if any of the factors, in a jacket, are not according to the points stated above.