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The Three Tiers of Leather Jacket Makers – Entry, Mid, and End Level

When it comes to the niche subculture of heritage clothing, each garment is generally more of an investment than a frivolous purchase. And one menswear classic that will certainly be with you for years to come is a leather jacket. Just like fine wine—or a pair of raw denim jeans—a good quality leather jacket will only get better with age, as it molds to your body and gains beautiful patina with each wear.

But like that fine wine, it’s best to put in some research into what you’re paying for before you part with your hard-earned clout. If you’re new to the world of leather jackets, for instance, you may be wondering why The Flat Head charges nearly two thousand bucks for their jackets, while you can buy something similar for less than half the price. For this very reason, we’ve split a selection of leather jacket makers into three price-point categories.

The purpose of this guide is not to suggest that any particular group is superior, the three tiers rather highlight where your money goes—and how far it goes—at each level. Jackets of this ilk are already far beyond high street offerings, and each brand mentioned produces some darn fine leather goods.

Entry Level (sub $800)

Leather jackets at this level are usually priced around the $500-800 dollar mark and are generally factory-made from cow or steerhide that’s been clicked and cut to a good standard. This tier also tends to have a decent stitch-count comprised of poly-stitching.

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As you can see from the Vanson x Leftfield Commando jacket we’ve chosen for this category, entry-level leathers will still feature solid hardware and handsome linings.

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Notable brands from this tier are:

Mid Level ($800-$1500)

At the middle tier, you can expect leather jackets to be made of more luxurious hides—like lambskin or goat—that have been cut with highly precise clicking. Often, the price point is also reflected by a smaller production run, made by a small team of highly skilled sewers.

Some mid-level leathers will also have more heritage hallmarks and details to add to the panache of the jacket, like period-accurate zips, snap closures, stitch patterns and zip-pulls. An example of this is the Buzz Rickson Type G-1, a reproduction of the classic 7823 jacket, made of supple goatskin with extra long zip-pulls and MIL-SPEC urea buttons.

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Buzz Rickson’s Type G-1 Jacket. Image via Buzz Rickson’s.

Notable brands from this tier are:

End Level ($1500+)

By this point, brands are pulling out all the stops to make their leather jackets as luxurious and hard-wearing as possible. They come at the highest price points, with the leather being of the highest quality, and they typically employ horsehide, deerskin, or even something more exotic like yak’s hide to get there. Brands will usually work closely with the contracted tannery to ensure that the tanning process will allow the leather to age and patina gracefully.

Himel Bros. Heron leather jacket.

Jackets at this price point are produced in super limited quantities—or even made to order—by a very small team or even one lone sewer. For many brands, accurate reproduction of a vintage model is of the highest importance, so you’ll see details like wrapped buttons, repro zips, specific stitch patterns, gold or silver hardware, and skived seams.

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Real McCoy’s Buco J-24L Jacket. Image via The Real McCoy’s London.

Take this Real McCoy’s Buco J-24L for example. Made in Japan from vegetable-tanned horsehide, this jacket has a 100% rayon lining, detachable Mouton fur collar, and gold period accurate Talon pull-tab zippers.

Notable brands from this tier are: