My old Schott in NYC
As well as seeking employment I am still looking for the remaining items on my FWA list, of which number one is a classic, timeless leather jacket. My plans have been slightly delayed by my impending family trip to Barcelona which will consume my spare money for the next couple of months, but I no matter as I am still in the research phase of the hunt. Recently I have been taking a closer look at leather options as I definitely want a jacket which can be worn as often as possible throughout the year so heavy, thick, rigid leather is more than likely not an option. Ideally I would like something substantial in heft, but supple in texture to allow maximum movement but still feel like a “proper” jacket. Through research and conversation I have narrowed the leather down to a straight choice between a mid weight steer hide and goat, which was a very popular leather in military contract leather jackets through the 40’s and 50’s.
The Himel Brothers Heron
I have a had two steer hide jackets before, the first being the Schott which was cumbersome and unwieldy but looked great, the second was a Brooks Café racer which was made from a much thinner steer hide and felt extremely flimsy in comparison. The point which this illustrated to me is that there is a huge amount of variation in this leather, and without being able to feel the material in person I will not be sure that it is what I am looking for. Goat leather also has a fair amount of variation but it is by nature a much more pliable material, which means that even with at a significant thickness it will still be comfortable and moveable. I am edging to wards the goat (never thought I’d say that), for reasons of comfort and authenticity.
Vintage Brooks Cafe Racer
After leather comes the question of how to buy rather than where to buy, do I buy new or vintage? There is no doubt that it is still very possible to pick up a really nice bargain in the second hand leather jacket market, a quick search of eBay will show you that vintage jackets by Brooks, Schott, Sears, Golden Bear and many other older American brands can be found for less than $150 in some cases, it’s just a case of patience and waiting for something you love to become available. The draw back of this method of purchasing is that you don’t get to handle the jacket, your purchase is based solely on pictures and this can lead to some pretty major pitfalls, $150 may not seem like much money until you have to throw it away after receiving something completely awful from some unscrupulous vendor.
The Alexander Leathers Simmons
The other option is obviously to buy new, with the variables being price, brand and either off the shelf or custom made. For a jacket worthy of being a FWA I actually don’t need to spend a fortune, as some really good brands often have sample sales or seasonal reduction on existing stock models and jackets made as samples for retailers or customers who changed their mind, this can be a really good way of getting a top quality jacket for appreciably less money, works for boots too. I am leaning towards buying a new jacket, and I am thinking that my next move will be to compare a few models which take my fancy and see how they stack up.