Lambskin and cow leather are the two most common types used to create leather jackets. Cow leather has always been popular because of its durability. Lambskin is usually more expensive than cow leather due to the small size of the raw skins. Adding to that, lambskin is rather popular because it is particularly soft. Calfskin is a leather variety that is soft like lambskin, yet strong like cow leather. It is even more expensive than lambskin because a full grown cow provides more meat/skin than a baby cow. The most luxurious leathers are goat, bison, horse, deerskin/elk, and pig. Goat consists of a tight pebbly texture and is not as soft as lambskin. Bison is thick and tough with a distinguishing deep grain molding. Horse is a bit stiffer than cow, but it is very durable. Deerskin/elk is also very durable and its distinct feature is its yellow/orange tint. Designers will sometimes dye them brown or black. Lastly, pig consists of a variety of textures, all of which are durable. The most exotic and top of the line leathers are kangaroo and crocodile/alligator. Kangaroo leather is similar in appearance to cow leather, but it is much tougher and it is thinner. Crocodile/alligator leather consists of fairly huge large square and rectangular shaped tile moldings. They are extremely expensive, sometimes 20 times more expensive than lambskin and cow. Crocodile skins have small speckles on each square molding, whereas alligators do not.
You may be surprised to know that a large majority of leather jackets, ranging from highly expensive to less expensive, are frequently made in the same factories. This begs the question, what makes a less expensive jacket so different from an expensive one? Well, the most important factor that contributes to the price of any leather jacket is the quality of the leather. Some leathers are re-worked with faux leather grains and top coated by manufacturers. It is usually fairly easy to tell the difference between these types and ones that are not altered since re-worked leather often has an overly smooth and plastic feel, whereas leather that has not been re-worked is soft, oily, and uneven textured.
Some other key details to pay attention to when shopping for a leather jacket are as follows:
Design Factors – Lower end leather jackets tend to be simpler as a whole. They don’t require as many pieces to cut, to line up, and to sew, therefore they are faster to make. Moreover, the less designs a jacket has, the cheaper it is to make.
Linings – Lower quality leather jackets tend to also have low quality synthetic linings. Naturally, these linings will not last as long since they tend to shred and tear easily. Good quality leather jackets normally have two linings; one for the sleeve and one for the body. Additionally, good quality lining is made of breathable material.
Armholes/Sleeves – Cheaper jackets tend to have bigger and lower armholes in order to accommodate more body types. When designers do this, it is often to obtain more sales. It is similar to the mass production motto. Good quality leather jackets will have higher armholes, thus allowing for comfortable arm movement and a better fit overall.
Top Stitching – Some designers cut costs by utilizing regular, thin thread and/or cutting back on the amount of top stitching. They sometimes eliminate it all together.
Zippers – High quality leather jackets are often made with two way zippers in order to increase comfort when you are sitting down. Two way zippers allow you to unzip the jacket from both the bottom and the top. A large majority of leather jackets are made with YKK zippers, but very high end jackets often have RiRi zippers or custom-made, heavy duty zippers that are less likely to break in comparison to YKK zippers.