Originally introduced as a piece of military-issue outerwear to protect WWI pilots flying at high altitudes, the leather jacket has since become one of the most iconic pieces in mainstream men’s style. And it’s not without good reason, for once Irving Schott had worked his magic with the Perfecto, the garment quickly developed a reputation amongst any number of notable fashion enthusiasts. Before long, the leather jacket had even arrived in Hollywood, earning time on the silver screen atop the shoulders of none other than Marlon Brando in The Wild One and James Dean in Rebel Without A Cause. In the years that followed, they continued to make an appearance throughout pop culture, becoming a staple of anti-authoritarian style with everyone from The Beatles to The Black Panthers. As they say, the rest is history, but leather jackets are still very much relevant even to this day.
In any case, there are plenty of reasons to own a leather jacket, even if you don’t find yourself riding motorcycles or causing trouble. For starters, they’re as timeless as clothing can be, enduring over the years despite no shortage of changing styles and fleeting trends. What’s more, leather jackets are highly robust garments (when well-made) that offer excellent durability with the added benefit of some built-in protection from impacts as well as insulation against the elements. That being said, not all leather jackets are created equal — not hardly. In fact, there are plenty of off-the-rack imitators that’ll only leave you disappointed. So, rather than going it alone and trying to sift through the sub-par knockoffs for yourself, just give our guide a look. It’ll tell you everything you need to know about why a made-to-measure leather jacket is right for you.
The Case Against Off-The-Rack Shopping
While there’s no denying the ease of buying a leather jacket off the rack, it’s ultimately a quick fix that favors convenience over quality. In other words, a ready-made option may arrive at your door in a more timely manner, but it comes at the expense of several compromises. Take the following, for instance:
Sizing: The biggest disadvantage of off-the-rack jackets comes in the form of their standardized sizing. Because manufacturers want to cater to as wide a demographic as possible, they use highly generalized jacket patterns, making their clothing under the assumption that men are mostly the same in proportion. Of course, no two buyers are exactly alike, meaning that what fits like a glove for one person may be an utterly impractical impossibility for another.
Construction: A jacket’s construction also makes for an obvious giveaway when comparing ready-made versus made-to-order. In the case of the former, you’ll find that the materials don’t tend to be as high of quality, with synthetic leathers and glues being the expected rather than the exception. By contrast, made-to-order options — like those from The Jacket Maker — only use the best hides and the sturdiest stitching, all but guaranteeing they’ll last you for many years to come.
Selection: Last but not least, off-the-rack jackets are typically somewhat limited in terms of their available inventory, usually only offered in one or two different color choices and without the option to alter cuts or add personalized details. As such, unless you’re truly sold on a jacket as it looks from the factory, we’d highly suggest that give made-to-order a try. You’ll have far more control over the creative process, allowing you to create a unique jacket that’s entirely your own.
Why You Need A Custom Jacket In Your Rotation
A Personal Stamp
Given the problems with off-the-rack options, you’d think that buying a made-to-order leather jacket would make for a pretty straightforward decision. That being said, if you need more convincing, here just some of the things you can expect from going custom:
Fit: It should come as no surprise that a custom leather jacket will wear far better than one you might buy off the rack. After all, the manufacturer is using your exact measurements, meaning that your garment will fit like a glove because it’s made for you and you alone.
Customization: Along with having control over the fit of your leather jacket, made-to-order options will generally allow for some degree of customization as well. Whether that comes in the form of a unique lining, some personalized embroidery, or even just a set of different hardware, it’s nice to be able to give your clothing a bit of signature style.
Materials: As we’d previously touched on when discussing the disadvantages of buying off-the-rack, made-to-order leather jackets generally offer a much more refined construction. For in addition to giving you choice over the materials from which your garment will be made custom options will also be crafted over a longer period of time. Sure, you may have to wait a few weeks until your jacket’s ready, but at least you can buy with confidence knowing that the wait was well worth it.
How It Works
The Jacket Maker In Practice
While there are numerous custom leather jacket manufacturers in operation these days, The Jacket Maker offers perhaps the best value propositions of the bunch. Each jacket is available in both standardized as well as made-to-measure sizing, with the latter option only running you a small $30 premium. However, should you be after an even more personalized approach, The Jacket Maker also offers an incredibly convenient bespoke service in which buyers can work with a specialized design consultant right from the comfort of their homes. All it takes is a quick form to get things started, after which you’ll be given complete control in creating a leather jacket that’s entirely your own.
No matter if you go with a made-to-measure option or a completely bespoke custom, you can rest assured that a piece from The Jacket Maker will only be of the finest quality. Across the board, you’ll find that each jacket incorporates premium full-grain leather and hard-wearing YKK zipper components, a combination that looks the part and is made to last. And that’s not all; because all of The Jacket Maker’s products are handcrafted one at a time, the attention to detail is far superior to that of your average mass-produced, ready-made leather jacket.
Above all else, though, it’s The Jacket Maker’s pricing that can’t be beaten. Thanks to a direct-to-consumer model and a just-in-time production process, the brand can offer custom leather jackets at a cost that’s far below that of their quality.
A Sample Of The Goods
What You Can Expect
Ionic Tan Brown Leather Biker Jacket
If you’re looking for a café-style motorcycle jacket, you can’t go wrong with the Ionic. Cut with a banded collar and a pair of front chest pockets, it comes in seven different colors so that you can perfectly cater it to your particular tastes.
Noah Black Leather Biker Jacket
However, for those who’re after that quintessential heartthrob aesthetic, the Noah makes for a far better choice. Styled in line with jackets worn by the likes of Brando and Dean, it features a slim fit and a notched, zippered closure to ensure that it really looks the part.
Airin G-1 Brown Leather Bomber Jacket
G-1 flight jackets are as classic as classic gets, and The Jacket Maker’s Airin silhouette is certainly no exception. Available in both black and brown leather, if you go for the former, you even get to choose the color of your removable fur-lined collar.
The Complete Guide To Leather Care
In order to keep your jacket looking its best over the course of its lifetime, you’ll have to stay on top of its maintenance. If you’re wondering where is a good place to start, be sure to check out our complete guide to leather care.