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How to Choose and Style A Leather Moto Jacket

March 15, 2021

How to Choose and Style A Leather Moto Jacket

by Naiyie

Naiyie is a fashion enthusiast with interests in history and the sciences. She is a psychology student and researcher in Europe and runs her own psychology and eastern philosophy blog. She also enjoys travelling, writing poetry and playing music.


The iconic leather Moto jacket has a vibrant history behind it which gives it the distinct and archetypal flavor it carries with it. Aside from understanding the subcultural origin of this classic design, there are many other variables worth knowing about how to choose and style a Moto leather jacket. There are so many sellers, price ranges and types of leather to consider, alongside weighing up whether you should consider going custom-made. This article includes the following sections which aim to provide you with the background information you need to choose and style a Moto leather jacket.

Café Racer Subculture – The History & Origin of the Moto Leather Jacket

In the immediate years of Post-World War II Britain, the nation was met by severe economic challenges, including record levels of unemployment. The following years saw a steady increase in prosperity among the British working class.

Motorbikes initially gained popularity as they were a cheaper means of transport. However, by the late 1950s, the average British citizen was prosperous enough to own a car. So, by the time the ’60s rolled around the stripped-down, minimalist ‘Café racer’ bikes transformed into a symbol of speed enthusiasm and rebellion.

The name ‘Café racer’ arose from the subculture of biker gangs that frequented central London cafés, namely, The Busy Bee Café and Ace Café in Stone Bridge. They would congregate in large groups and organize races between local pubs and cafés. I mean, seriously, can you imagine how unbelievably badass these guys must have felt? This vibrant post-war subculture spread across Europe before eventually reaching the United States.

The Café racer (also known as Ton-Up) subculture was marked not only by these low-mounted handlebar motorbikes but also by a particular style of leather jacket. The original Café racer leather jackets, which later became refined into the Moto-style leather jacket, was characterized by their minimalist appearance, symmetry, and signature collar.

In 1956, Schott NYC had also created their own version of the cafe racer jacket, they called it the ‘leather racing shirt’. Today, these leather jackets are not designed for or solely worn by motorbike racers, but the distilled look has become popular for casual wear.

The Difference Between the Original Café Racer & the Modern Moto Jacket

While the original cafe racer was already considerably minimalist, the modern version, known as ‘moto’ jackets offer an even more refined design. They are generally made from slightly thinner material with fewer zips and pockets. Compared to the original cafe racer, the moto jacket can be identified by its signature attractive sleekness, collar and typically has one (maybe two) chest pockets with horizontal zips.

Leather moto jacket

What Distinguished The Moto Jacket

What distinguishes the moto-style leather jacket from other motorcycle/biker jackets is its perfect two-sided symmetry, characteristic sleek appearance, and quintessential buttoned collar. This particular style of leather jacket blends masculinity and sophistication, its subtle versatility allows you to feel comfortable wearing it on any occasion. Many leather jackets have folds and zips which often bias toward one side, this jacket zips directly up the middle and typically has minimal pockets or extra zips. It’s simple, yet iconic. It’s casual and understated, yet, when made from high-grade materials, carries with it an air of luxury.

Moto-style: Where Can You Find One?

Schott NYC

Founded in 1913, these guys take the credit for designing the first motorcycle leather jackets. At the time they were selling for around $5. Schott have come a long way since then and so has the costliness of their jackets! They offer a range of Cafe racer and Moto-style jackets, in different colours, leathers and at varying price ranges.

 

The Café Racer

As indicated by their name, this UK based company specialize in this style of jacket. They have a range of Cafe racer and various other styles of motorcycle jackets.

PHYSICAL - The Admiral Moto

PHYSICAL - The Suede Double Rider

PHYSICAL - The Technical Bomber


Should you go custom?

While there are hundreds of great leather jackets out there, for a lot of us, leather jackets are not just items of clothing, they are, in some sense, an extension of our personality, our individual character.

While shops and retailers definitely have some really nice jackets, they don’t allow for you to express yourself creatively. Custom leather jackets give you the opportunity to creative it just as you want it, you don’t need to make any compromises. You can choose the type of leather, the color, the size. You can choose how many pockets you want, where you want them, if you want zips or buttons, With custom-made jackets, virtually every detail is chosen by you, you are the master of your own world. Furthermore, everybody has a different body type, shops and retailers base their designs based on prototypes, averaging out the dimensions and ratios based on how most other people look. Going custom allows you to tailor the jacket to fit your body, to fit you like a glove.

How to buy a leather jacket

How to Find the Perfect Moto-style Jacket

As with any item of clothing that costs a considerable sum of your hard-earned dollar, attention to detail is key to long-term satisfaction with your purchase. If you’re already a leather aficionado, you already know the importance of leather and zip quality. There’s nothing worse than spending money on a leather jacket that doesn’t age well or has faulty zips. So, knowing your materials is paramount to optimizing your purchase satisfaction.

  

Types of Leather

Full-grain Leather

This type of leather is the best and most sought-after on the market. It’s soft, breathable and ages the best out of any other leather out there. It is made from the best part of the animal hide and as a result, products made from full-grain offer the best breathability and durability. With full-grain leather, you can expect to be able to hand your jacket onto younger generations. It’s really just the best choice.

 

Top-grain Leather

If you weren’t going to take the number one option (full-grain leather), this would be your second best choice. In fact, most people opt for this type of leather. It offers a good compromise between cost-effectiveness and durability.

 

Genuine Leather

To the untrained mind, the term ‘genuine leather’ can be somewhat misleading, as it sort of subtly implies that it is the most genuine and could perhaps be perceived as being better than its counterparts. Genuine leather is, as it says, real leather, but it is by no means the best quality. It is typically made from the leftovers of the more expensive, high-quality leathers mentioned above.

 

Corrected Leather

Being the cheapest kind of leather, it often has a very flawed appearance and needs modification before being turned into clothing. It is usually sanded down to remove imperfections and adorned in the later stages of processing to resemble leathers of a higher value.

 

Faux Leather

Despite being commonly referred to as ‘leather’, which some leather lovers might protest as misguiding, faux leather is not real leather. It is a synthetic look-alike and while it is rather durable, it doesn’t offer the same softness and breathability as it’s genuine counterparts.

How to style a moto leather jacket

In general, leather jackets a diverse and wonderful piece of clothing. There are many types of leather jackets and each shine in their own way and describe the personality of the person wearing them.

While the cafe racer leather jacket (which evolved into the moto-style jacket) was originally designed for racers in the post-war England Ton-Up subculture, today it offers a minimalist appearance. Due to their understated, subtle nature, they offer versatility and style for all types of occasions.

They are great casual wear and are an equally attractive choice for a night out on the town. It would be so outlandish to see someone arrive at work wearing one of these unpretentious jackets, and there’s no reason you can’t through it over a suit on your way to and from the office.

They are a slim fit and have a tendency to emphasise thinness, making you look fit and lean. They are also not a particularly long jacket, so you would want to wear it with a shorter t-shirt that doesn’t hang out the back. You could alternatively tuck your shirt in to avoid this, and totally rock the gentlemen look.

How to Identify Good Quality Leather

The Smell

Simply put, real leather will always smell like real leather. If you’re not already familiar with the wholesome, rustic smell of good quality leather, get acquainted next time you have the opportunity! Don’t be afraid to have a good whiff of it, it’ll help you with identifying real leather in future situations.

 

The Label

Look for indications on the labels of the item. If you see ‘made with full-grain’ leather and it also smells like the real deal, you can probably already be confident that you’re in good hands.

 

Other Aspects of the Item

Seeing as good quality leather is rarely ever cheap, it’s very unlikely that the manufacturer will not go the full mile with the stitching and lining. Flaws in the stitching and lining of the article could be a sign that the product is of low quality altogether, watch out for copy-cats!

 

The Classic Water Test

Leather is made from animal hide, which has pores that are breathable and can absorb. If you drop a tiny bit of water of good quality leather, it should absorb it in a few seconds. When you do the same thing on fake plastic lookalikes, the water will just pool of slip right off.

Real leather looks and feels amazing, in a lot of cases, you will just know! But with these pro tips, you can be confident that if the leather item ticks these boxes, the article is the real deal.

Considering Independent Brothers

The manufacturing of custom leather jackets by Independent Brothers, follow all their usual golden company standards. Unlike many other manufacturers in the fashion industry, who prioritize profit and cost-effectiveness over the fair treatment of other individuals and businesses, Independent Brothers go out of their way to endorse fair trade. Which, when you look at the process of how the vast proportion of clothing on the market today is made, seems quite admirably unique. They exclusively source their leather from local suppliers which helps with promoting local economic growth. They also visit their manufacturer’s regularly to ensure that all employees are treated fairly. Furthermore, they work standard hours for standard pay, and no person under the age of 18 is permitted to work there, prohibiting the engagement of illegal forced child labor.

Furthermore, the architectural design of their factory ensures that the workspace is naturally lit, so workers have a comfortable, positive, and safe atmosphere to carry out their craft. They only use the finest full-grain leather, well known for retaining strength, durability and breathability, the precise characteristics that you expect from your leather products.

The leather tanning also takes place locally, by masters with hundreds of years of ancestral history in leather tanning craft. They exclusively use vegetable tanning, which is astronomically better for the environment, as it doesn’t leak harsh chemicals into the local water supply, although this way of tanning is a longer more costly process.

The inside lining of their jackets is made from a finely fabricated blend of Cupro and Rayon, this ensures silk-like softness and cotton-like breathability. Using these materials promises that the jackets are not only great to look at, but also particularly comfortable to wear. All zips on the jackets are comprised of industry quality YKK and nylon bonded thread, for durability and strength. If you have ever experienced the minute trauma of experiencing the wrath of faulty zips, then you can appreciate the importance of having a good one!

Custom leather jacket

Final Thoughts

The Moto-style leather jacket is a pick which carries with it a rich and interesting history. Rather than just being any old leather jacket, it is a relic of the past, a time-capsule of an era of motorbike racing, rock ‘n’ roll and post-war rebellion. This minimalist and quintessential jacket evolved over time, becoming ever more refined into the subtle and modest Moto style jacket. We reviewed what distinguishes the Moto-style jacket from other jackets and how to style a Moto jacket. With the pro-tips, you should have no problems identifying the real article when you meet it. With your new knowledge of types of leather, you have everything you need to make a good choice. Retailers and shops are great for a quick pick-up, but if you’re the creative type and want to spend the time giving life to an article of clothing that you can keep forever, going custom is a great choice. Independent Brothers offer a quality service customizing personalized leather jackets, contact them today if you are ready to take the first step.

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