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Should You Buy A Full Grain Leather Jacket?

November 21, 2019

Should You Buy A Full Grain Leather Jacket?

by Joanna Smykowski

Joanna does quite a few things in life, but writing has been her favorite by far. She is a city girl who has moved to a beach town, and second to writing, will never tire of music, travel, and the friendships she makes as a result of both.

­The world of leather jackets is a big one. Whether you are new to the scene – in which case, we are extending a warm welcome! – or you have been a loving leather jacket owner and wearer for some time, it is still an expansive universe to be a part of. Diving into it, there are various types of leather jackets that you can purchase, and each offers something that another does not.

What are the characteristics of leather jackets that differ? What are things you should look for and know about?

Style: There are many different styles of leather jackets, and each has a distinct look of their own. What kind of style do you want to rock and wear? Here are a few:

Lining:The lining of a leather jacket is important. How warm will it keep you? Is this jacket more for show or for insulation? Here are some common jacket linings:

  • Cotton
  • Polyester
  • Synthetic fabric
  • Silk
  • Cupro

Types of leather:The type of leather is one of the most important factors when it comes to your jacket. It determines the feel of your leather and what your jacket is overall going to look like. The most common types of leather are cow leather and lambskin, but here’s a running list of what you might find (and we are not including faux leather here, but that is always a plastic option):

  • Cow
  • Lambskin
  • Suede
  • Goat
  • Horse
  • Pig
  • Bison
  • Deerskin/elk

Details: The details are an important part of the jacket as well. These usually refer to a few things:

  • Pockets – your leather jacket can have multiple pockets or none, and they can be both inside and outside of the jacket. Outside affects the look of the jacket. Pockets anywhere affect how many you can store inside of the jacket itself.
  • Closures – this is essentially what is going to close the jacket up for you as well as any pockets. You can have zippers or buttons, and those affect the aesthetics as well.

Quality Leather:This is what we are here to talk about today. There are a few leather qualities that are available when you purchase a leather jacket:

The quality of leather refers to the leather itself, and how altered or close it is to its natural setting. It has an effect on how the leather feels as well. As you could probably guess from the title of this blog post, today we are talking about full grain leather jackets. We will chat about the difference between the various qualities, what distinguishes full grain from the rest. Ultimately, we want you to be able to decide whether or not you should get a full-grain leather jacket when you finally make that purchase.

Full grain leather jackets

Leather jackets, their quality, and how they differ

The quality of a leather jacket is determined by how the leather has been handled before being turned into a jacket. We mentioned the qualities before, but let’s take this opportunity to go into it in more detail:

Top grain leather refers to leather that is split from the bottom layers of the leather. Top grain is the process of sanding away the natural grain from the top surface of the leather. Imitation grain gets stamped into the leather to give a more uniform look. However, no genuine grain remains. This results in a leather jacket that is thinner in material and weight. Since leather is heavy and that can be uncomfortable for some people, many times top grain leather is preferred for that reason – it leads to more comfortable jackets. The bottom later of the leather is used to make suede, while the top layer is used for the jacket. Top grain leather is the most common type of leather in high-end leather products, but it is the second-highest quality, although the name suggests otherwise. The surface gets sanded and a finish coat is added. This results in a colder, plastic feel of the leather with less breathability, even though it is thinner and more comfortable. The coat does not develop a natural patina, and it is more pliable than full-grain leather. It is less expensive and is more stain-resistant, making it the most common type of leather in a leather jacket.

Genuine leather is the lowest quality leather. When full-grain leather is split, genuine leather is the bottom half, while the top half becomes top grain. Genuine leather is the catchall term for anything that is leather, but not high quality. It essentially just means it is technically leather, and can even mean scraps of leather bonded together to make the product (bag, jacket, belt, etc.)

Correctedleather is leather that has been sanded down to remove any imperfections. As a result of the sanding, the original grain is gone. A faux animal skin grain is then put on the leather by a mechanical pressing, and the leather is treated. Corrected leather gets treated with a few different products, including oils, treatments, and dye. This makes it more appealing and customizable to consumers, and results in a uniform grain with extremely smooth leather, albeit a more plastic feel. Corrected leather is always made from top grain leather, but not all top grain leather is corrected.

Full-grain leather is, conversely, leather that has not been split. It is the full hide. Not only has it not been split, but it has not been sanded, buffed, or any other alterations to remove any natural marks of the hide or imperfections on the surface. This type of leather retains the natural grain and skin pattern of the animal. Full-grain has some breathability due to the natural pores. It also has natural oils, making it a very soft leather. During prolonged contact, there is less moisture. Full-grain also develops a patina during its lifetime. A patina on leather is a gloss or sheen on a surface that results from aging. It is the highest quality leather out of all of them, and if you are buying a product that is full-grain leather, the seller will be sure to make it known that it is full-grain. Full-grain leather is likely more expensive, as it is higher quality and will last you much longer. For a leather enthusiast, or if you have the budget to afford the higher quality leather, full-grain leather may be what you are looking for.

Different leather types

Where do I buy a full-grain leather jacket?

Now that we have read up about the various details to look for in a leather jacket and you have learned the quality nuances, it is time to asses and decide what you are looking for. If you have decided to go full-grain, the next step is figuring out where to buy full-grain leather jackets. As luck would have it, we have looked into and have a few companies listed below that are a good starting board:

  1. Independence Brothers - We only use full-grain, high-quality leather made with an expensive, old school vegetable tanning process optimized for toughness and a beautiful patina. We are a company that was founded by two brothers who value leather jackets and the way that they make you feel. Based in Philadelphia, Independence Brothers specializes in leather jackets that are made of quality materials, crafted with skill, and fit perfectly. The Independence Brothers jackets are made of full-grain lambskin, goatskin, and cowskin leathers so that they are durable, they age well, and they can last for generations. The Independence Brothers price tag comes in at an affordable one, with jackets as low as $380 and up.
  2. Zara - Zara is a popular clothing store that began in Europe and expanded west. It is a Spanish apparel retailer that specialized in fast fashion and products such as clothing, shoes, accessories, beauty products, perfumes, and jackets. Its parent organization is Inditex, and it was founded in 1974. Zara is now around Europe and other continents, and comes in at an affordable price tag, with their jackets being around $300.
  3. H & M - along the lines of Zara, H & M (Hennes & Mauritz), is a Swedish multination clothing-retail company. It began in Sweden in 1947 and has since expanded around. Like Zara, it is known for its fast-fashion clothing for men, women, teenagers, and children. Their price tag is also relatively similar to Zara, coming in at $400 for ready to wear jackets.
  4. DSTLD- DSTLd is an American clothing company that is fresh at 5 years older. They were founded in Los Angeles, California, by Mark Lynn and Corey Epstein. They were founded as 20Jeans and then rebranded, expanded, and turned into DSTLD. They began as a pure online sales company and still rely mostly on online sales, as they only have retail space occasionally. They focus on simple design, superior quality, and a pared-down product selection in order to deliver their perfect core wardrobe. Their price tag comes in at around $400.
  5. The Jacket Maker - The Jacket Maker is a newer company that is based out of California in the United States and Ras al Khaimah, or RAK, in the United Arab Emirates. Only six years old, they began as an online retail store for leather jackets in 2013. The Jacket Maker shifted to bespoke in 2016, and it is still a major part of the company three years later. They have ready to wear jackets that you can add a customizable touch to or they have the option to go entirely custom-made, from measurements to style. Their price tag is affordable for leather jackets as well, coming in at $200 for their ready to wear jackets, and going higher for their custom jackets.
  6. Taylor Stitch - Taylor Stitch has been around for about a decade, beginning as a shirtmaking company. They are based in San Francisco, California, with a location in Japan as well. The company comes in at a higher price tag, at around $875 for their jackets.
Where to buy a full grain leather jacket

I want a full-grain leather jacket. How much will I be paying for it?

If you have decided you want a full-grain leather jacket, you are in it for the investment and in it for the long haul. Since it is the best quality leather jacket, expect to be paying a little more money than you would if it was lower quality material. Just for pure reference, you can get a faux leather jacket for as little as $30. We are not here for the faux leather jackets - they are not leather, and we love leather here! Plus, they are terrible for the environment and really just plastic - but we are mentioning this to make a point. Real leather, one that will last you a long time, is a higher price, especially as you go up in quality. You pay more at a fancy restaurant than a fast food joint, and it is the same here. Full-grain leather jackets can range around $900 - $1,000 at its height, and if you are doing something such as customizing it, the price will increase even more.

However, we do not want that price tag to make you nervous. You can also get a full-grain leather jacket on the lower end of the spectrum. As we mentioned before, places such as Independence Brothers that come at a more affordable price tag can let you get a full-grain leather jacket for a much better price tag of around $400.

Looking at your budget and discerning how much you can and want to spend on your leather jacket will help narrow down your search options.

PHYSICAL - The Admiral Moto

PHYSICAL - The Suede Double Rider

PHYSICAL - The Technical Bomber

Conclusion: we campaign for the full-grain

To the leather lovers and wearers out there, we love any type of leather you may wear. Whether it is genuine, full-grain or anything in between, we are just happy that you have a leather jacket and it is a positive effect on your style, fashion, closet, and general jacket happiness.

If you can get full-grain leather, however, we recommend it. Having a product that is top tier versus lower quality is always a good idea. For some people, full-grain may not be your thing. You may not enjoy the heavier jacket, and perhaps you want it a little smoothed down. The full-grain is the hide in full naturalness, so anything the animal may have experience in its lifetime is on the jacket. For aesthetics, a lower grain may be better. So, as you are deciding what jacket to purchase, consider the usual factors:

  1. Style - what is your style? What do you like to wear? The style jacket that you like may only be available in a lower grain. If that is the case, you may want to get that over a full-grain leather jacket. Our feelings on leather jackets are that they are an extension of yourself. Therefore, whatever you pick needs to be something that shouts you, and that you love. Leather jackets are an investment for the next few years, and something you will wear regularly. Make sure that you love what you buy! And if you can’t find anything ready to wear that you love - go custom. Companies like Independence Brothers have only full-grain jackets and allow you to customize them, so consider it an option if you want to choose your style with the highest quality of leather.
  2. Price - what budget are you working with? Full-grain leather jackets tend to be more expensive, but they don’t have to be. You can shop around for a jacket at a lower price tag, but your budget does narrow down options.
  3. Use and comfort - not only is the style important but what are you using the jacket for? Is it more a statement piece, or do you want it to keep you warm as it gets brisker? And the comfort is important as well. We mentioned earlier that many people chose top grain leather jackets because the thinner material is not as weighted and therefore more comfortable. If possible, try on a variety of jackets to see what works best, or make sure the retailer you are ordering your jacket from has a return policy. As always, remember that customized jackets usually can’t be returned. If you are thinking about customizing your jacket, you can always step into stores and try on various quality leather jackets to help you make a baseline decision.
Leather jacket style

We hope this article helps you elevate your leather jacket purchasing experience. At the end of the day, you are the person purchasing this extension of yourself. Do the research and read reviews. Compare styles and cuts and comfort. Contemplate how to make the jacket your own. Find what works best for you, what you can see yourself wearing many days throughout the year. Try on as many as you can before choosing one. No matter which jacket you purchase, you need to make sure you love it as much as we love leather jackets and that it is the best version of yourself in it.

Check Out More Great Leather Jacket Articles!

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