How to Choose a Leather Jacket That You'll Keep Forever
Investing isn't just for Wall Street. The notion of saving up for a new pair of shoes, a bag, or a coat that's well-crafted and long-lasting is one that's both timeless and important. The investment's significance lies in the fact that when you buy items that are made well and have a long shelf life, you're buying fewer items, end-stop. You've heard it before — the key to a truly sustainable wardrobe is buying less. If you're just getting started on this journey, start with the basics like how to shop for a leather jacket that checks off all the boxes of a worthy investment.
There are several components to keep in mind when choosing a leather jacket. First off, the silhouette. The shape of your leather jacket is probably the most important factor (more on that in a moment). Beyond that, considerations ranging from hardware and texture, to color palette, and embellishments all come into play. Finding the combination that fits your personal style is key. Ahead, designers share their expert advice on everything you need to know when finding the right leather jacket for your personal style as well as plenty of shopping options to ensure that if you're ready to make the investment, all that's left is a simple 'add to cart.'
Leather Jacket Shopping: Narrow Down The Details
By The Namesake is a Toronto-based custom leather jacket brand founded by designer Rosa Halpern. She takes a six-step approach when creating the perfect piece for her customers that consists of: base style (aka silhouette), material (including different colors and textures), hardware (zippers, snaps, buckles, and eyelets in different metal options), lining, add-ons (like optional studs, fur accents, and fringe), and overall fit.
Of course, a fully customized leather jacket isn't available for everyone but Halpern knows this. "If you’re prioritizing [just] two measurements, the most important are the shoulder width and sleeve length," she tells TZR. "An improper sleeve length is the tell-tale sign of an ill-fitting jacket!"
Leather Jacket Shopping: Plan For Heavy Wear
Halpern also emphasizes that finding a jacket that will look perfect for a long time just might come down to texture. "If you’re looking for a jacket that will look perfect for years to come, even with hard wear, go for a pebbled leather that will act as a natural camouflage to life’s scratches and scuffs," she shares. For designer Billy Reid, a malleable leather texture is the best route. "Finding a skin that has the right amount of broken-in character helps soften the wear and usually sculpts to the body easily," he tells TZR. "Stiff, rigid leather has a tougher time relaxing."
One of the top inquiries Halpern gets about leather jackets is with regards to rain damage, wrinkles, and scratches. Her response? "Don't be afraid to wear your leather jacket! We truly believe that the beauty of a good leather jacket is that it only gets better with time and with wear," she says. "As the jacket is worn in, stretched to fit, and scarred from adventure it only becomes cooler. Trust us, your jacket was designed to be worn."
Leather Jacket Shopping: Consider Vintage Or Recycled
Felix von Bahder, the co-founder and creative director of Deadwood knows a thing or two about recycled leather. The brand, which is entirely devoted to sustainable leather pieces, is based in Stockholm and swiftly emerging as a leader in the leather jacket space boasting stockists like Selfridges, Net-a-Porter, and Galeries Lafayette.
"The thing with jackets made from recycled and/or up-cycled leather, like ours, is that it involves a lot of what I call patch matching. It’s like puzzle-work," he tells TZR. "In order to make a jacket from waste materials you generally have to use a greater number of leather panels." von Bahder explains that, with time, this patchwork pattern can start to show. "To me, this is a beautiful thing, the material comes alive in a sense, each panel reflecting light slightly differently than the next," he adds.
Leather Jacket Shopping: Choose Comfort Over Trends
His process for choosing the right leather jacket prioritizes balance. "Does the width of the zippers match the particular style? Do the dimensions of the shoulder epaulets match the perceived weight of the jacket? This is all very subjective of course, as are all notions of beauty," von Bahder says. He also thinks it's important to match the jacket to your personality.
"That is a much bigger question than style, zippers and buttons. It’s about do I feel comfortable in this jacket? Do I feel confident? And it’s not just looks, it’s also values," he says. "I am genuinely concerned about what we humans are doing to the world, and that concern should carry weight in my deciding what to wear. The world’s use of leather needs to be more waste efficient — period. If you don’t want to buy vintage I really think you should at least consider buying something that is made from mostly recycled or up-cycled materials."
Below, shop a few current jacket styles that you'll want to hold onto for years to come.
We only include products that have been independently selected by The Zoe Report's editorial team. However, we may receive a portion of sales if you purchase a product through a link in this article.
Leather Moto Jacket
The leather moto should give you a "bad ass confidence" Reid says. This classic style is an easy pick if you're shooting for versatility and longevity.
Leather Bomber Jacket
A bomber jacket silhouette looks beautiful when crafted in leather and adds a hint of retro nostalgia.
Swap out your classic black blazer for a leather iteration that lends an extra dose of polish.
Leather Shirt Collar Jacket
"A straight, shirt collar jacket is a great alternative for that androgynous Bowie look," von Bahder explains. "Maybe inspired by the old denim jackets of the '60s"
Leather Trench Coat
Though not the first outerwear piece that comes to mind when considering a leather jacket, the trench is unique and sleek. "Here, I feel, when it comes to leather, there is a fine balance between too long — making it all Matrix, and too short — making it all meh," von Bahder notes.