Author Topic: A Short Treatise on Men?s Leather Jackets  (Read 2519 times)

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Offline W1RC

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A Short Treatise on Men?s Leather Jackets
« on: April 30, 2018, 07:37:54 AM »
Leather Jackets:

Men?s leather jackets are very popular for many reasons one of which is that, if properly cared for, they will last a lifetime.  Also they are comfortable to wear and never go out of style.

Military leather flight jackets, such as the iconic US Army Air Corps A-2 jacket and A-2 styled jackets are very popular.  Here is an excellent Web site that provides comprehensive information on the A-2.

It is important to know about the different types of leather used in the manufacture of jackets.

Cowhide is the most common leather used to make jackets because it is durable, easy to care for, and resistant to water and dirt. Its tough qualities are especially prized by motorcycle riders and police officers. Cowhide is affordable and functional.

Lambskin is very soft, luxurious leather. Fashion designers prefer its naturally light weight and velvety touch. It finishes beautifully, has a soft hand, and drapes well. With a little extra care, lambskin is very wearable and is the ultimate luxury.

Horsehide is rugged enough for military wear. That's why the Army Air Corps used it for the famous WWII A-2. High grade horsehide is supple and comfortable, but still tough enough for a military jacket.

Goatskin is perfect jacket leather because it is durable as well as supple, soft to the touch, and very comfortable to wear. Of all leathers used for,garments goatskin resists abrasion the best.  Goatskin jackets last so long they are passed down from generation to generation. I've seen goatskin jackets that look even better after 50 years of wear than they did when new. Both the Navy and Air Force use goatskin for their G-1 and A-2 flight jackets.

Leather Terminology.

Chrome-tanned - Leather preserved with chromium compounds and other mineral agents to produce supple leather for garments, shoes and gloves.

Vegetable-tanned - Leather preserved with tannins from bark, seeds, and wood to produce strong and slightly stiff leather for luggage and belting.

Drum dyed - Leather dyed in a rotating drum until the dye completely penetrates the leather.

Aniline - Leather dyed with transparent aniline dyes to produce a beautiful transparent finish and suppleness. No pigment is used, but a light finish may be applied to color or protect the leather.

Semi-aniline - Aniline dyed leather topped with a very light coat of pigment and finish to even out the color and increase durability.

Pigmented - Leather coated with resin containing pigment. Pigment gives leather a uniform color and shade. Low-grade leather needs thick coats of pigment to cover up cuts and scars.

Thickness - Leather thickness is measured in millimeters or ounces per square foot. One-ounce equals about 1/64-inch or 0.40 millimeters thickness. Jacket leather is usually between two and four-ounces.

Top grain - Leather from which only the hair and under flesh have been removed.

Grade - Leather grades range from A to D depending on the type and amount of flaws. Grade A hides are clean with no flaws. Grade B has a few slight imperfections. Grade C has healed cuts. Grade D has unhealed cuts. The higher the grade, the less pigment needed to finish the leather and the more beautiful the finished jacket.

Shearling - Sheepskin with the wool attached. The wool can be straightened or left naturally curly.

Mouton - Shearling tanned and finished for fur.

Leather Tanning Steps

Raw skins are soaked in a vat of salt brine to temporarily preserve them.
Preserved skins are soaked for several days in a solution of lime and sodium sulfate to remove hair and fat.
Clean skins are treated in a bating vat with an enzyme and sulfate or chloride to remove the lime.
Hides are placed in a tanning drum with chromium compounds or vegetable tannin.
Tanned hides are placed in a fat liquoring drum with oils and greases to increase pliability.
Hides are dyed with chemical or vegetable dyes in a rotating drum.
Dyed hides are milled in a rotating drum to soften them.
Milled leather is rolled, stretched, and dried to make it strong and uniform.
Leather is finished with pigment, wax, oil or glaze.
Finished leather may also be buffed or polished.

Sources of A-2, G-1 and other fine leather jackets. 

Formerly known as Flight Suits Limited, Gibson & Barnes of San Diego makes a very nice line of leather jackets.  My favorite is the Skyliner Airline jacket made for American Airlines pilots.

These companies manufacture A-2s and variations from original patterns and are for those who,want an authentic jacket that is wearable.  They are quite pricey, over a thou.

Eastman Leather Company, Devon England

Buzz Rickson, England

The Real McCoy, Japan

This,company manufactures their jackets in Turkey and are made-to-order. Thir customers are primarily USAF aircrew.

Then there is always eBay.

Repair and Restoration services.

Even though the leather is very durable and rugged the knit cuffs, waistbands and zippers often need replacing.  These resources also offer new lining, leather restoration and repair.

Finally, the best online resource is  It has to be seen to be believed!  This is a ?forum? which predates the ?blog? format but is essentially a peer-to-peer information exchange web site.