Common Types Of Leather Jackets



The first time I went into a store and tried to pick out a new leather jacket, I realized that they all looked the same. At first, my instinct was to make a choice based on looks alone. However, a good friend of mine was there to educate me about the many subtle differences between this iconic emblem of the stereotypical American bad-ass. To pay my karmic debt, I wish to pass on what I know to you. In this way, I hope that you can make a better-informed decision regarding this important and expensive purchase.



When choosing a leather jacket, there are a number of different factors that should be considered. While many of the leather jackets that you see in a store might seem very similar, they are often worlds apart regarding quality and workmanship. However, if you do not know what to look for, your choices can seem like a sea of near-identical fish. Here are some things to look for when trying to sort the bad from the good.


The Zipper:

A zipper seems like a fairly unimportant part of the jacket since it doesn't really draw the eye or add anything distinctive to the overall appearance. However, this is what makes the zipper a good barometer of quality. When a manufacturer is trying to cut their manufacturing costs, the little things are always the first to go. This is why cheap jackets tend to have inferior zippers.

Most leather jackets will be made with one of two kinds of zippers. They will normally be either YKK or RiRi zippers. While some people will claim otherwise, it doesn't really matter if the manufacturer chooses one or the other. Some will try to tell you that one is better than the other, but in the end, these are just stylistic differences that have nothing to do with quality. Disregard this factor.

What you want to look at is the sturdiness and reliability of the zipper. Put it on and work the zipper up and down a few times. Does it move smoothly? Does it bind or jam up? How much effort does it take to zip or unzip the jacket? These are all questions that you must ask yourself.


Leather Types:

As everyone knows, leather is made from treated animal skins. What you may not know is that there are huge differences between the leather from various animals. Leather can technically be made from the skin of any animal, but the most popular choices are cow, lamb, goat, horse, deer, pig, bison, alligator, crocodile, and even kangaroo skins.

If you want to stick with the old reliable standard, go with cowskin. It will probably be the least expensive and will serve your needs adequately. However, cowskin can be a little bit stiff and constrictive, especially after sitting on the shelf for a while. Calfskin is a good alternative because it isn't much more expensive, and offers the same durability of cow leather with a greater degree of flexibility. Lambskin has become popular because it is cheaper than calfskin and just as soft. While it tends not to be as thick, it is far from a flimsy leather.


Considering Buckskin Or Doeskin

Deerskin is a relatively cheap alternative for those who prefer a soft leather. In spite of its great suppleness, it is as tough as you could ever want. Many are not aware of this, but the skin of a deer has a unique method of dealing with trauma. When the skin is pierced, it naturally tends to seal itself for easier healing. This is why, sometimes, a deer can take a bullet from a small-caliber gun and keep on running. Anyone who has ever followed the resulting blood trail can tell you that before long, the wound will close up and the trail will be lost. This self-sealing property illustrates the great mix of strength and flexibility that characterize deerskin. However, deerskin is generally much more vulnerable to water damage and staining.

Exotic leather types such as kangaroo and alligator are nice but tend to be very expensive. For the record, you can tell alligator and crocodile skins apart easily because crocodile skins have small dimples on each scale where the hair follicles used to be. As you might imagine, gator or croc skin is like a hard layer of armor due to the bony layers within their skin. While this will provide maximum impact protection (great for cyclists), it would be a poor choice for anyone who needs flexibility or the ability to move quickly and precisely.


Corrected Vs. Uncorrected Leathers

Now we come to questions of manufacture. The first thing you need to know is the difference between corrected and uncorrected leathers. Uncorrected leathers are made from a single piece of skin and are left with all their natural inclusions and flaws intact. The skin of an animal will never be flawless, mostly because animals will run around and scratch the skin throughout their life. Take a look at the skin of an old elephant if you want a better idea of what I mean.

Corrected leathers are the leathers that almost look fake. They are smooth and even on the surface, and will have a texture that is similar to plastic. While these leathers are not necessarily bad or useless, they do not look as nice as the real thing. You should especially look out for bonded leather, which is aggregated together from various scraps like plywood.


Reviewing The Products:

1. Hugo Boss Lambskin Bomber Jacket

This is one of my favorites from the classic Hugo Boss line. This is a slim-fitted and basic version of the classic bomber (or aviator) jackets first made popular by the U.S. Military. While it may not jump out like a bell, it's got style all day long. Made of 100% hand treated lambskin from New Zealand, it offers the soft and smooth finish of lamb while retaining the natural grit and texture of the leather. It has a good thick cotton liner that does a great job of holding in the warmth on a cold day. The reinforced shoulders provide extra durability where you need it most. We can easily see that this jacket comes from an experienced and professional maker in the fact that it delivers a quality product without any fancy gimmicks. Best of all, it is relatively inexpensive at $645.



  • The design is both simple and elegant

  • Uncorrected lambskin is both soft and strong

  • Relatively inexpensive

  • Durable design that is reinforced in all the right places

  • Stout zippers on both pockets so that you don't lose anything


  • Unlikely to stand out from the crowd

  • Single-breasted design is less warm in the winter

  • Varsity-style look may not suit everybody

  • Only two pockets


2. Independence Brothers Custom Jackets

Here we do not have a specific product to review, because this company deals only in custom-made leather jackets. While this may be a more expensive option, it is the only option if you are looking for something unique. Independence brothers began operating in 2016. Brothers Scott and Robbie Kunz wanted to create an affordable small-scale manufacturing process so that they could deliver custom quality at a reasonable cost. The only negative I can see is that they use YKK zippers, but this is a small price to pay for a jacket that is uniquely your own. My favorite aspect of these jackets is the creativity that goes into them. They even offer buffalo leather as a specialty product, making them that much more distinctive.



  • You get a perfect fit every time.

  • You can choose every single detail of the design.

  • There are a large variety of styles available. These can be used as foundations to build your own personal style.

  • Independence Brothers are not very expensive, for a custom garment maker.

  • The designers are young, creative guys with fresh ideas



  • With any custom designer, it takes more time to get what you want

  • Independence Brothers might not be a good choice for someone with common tastes

  • Experimental new styles don't always work out as planned.

If there isn't a location nearby, you may have to complete most of the process online or over the phone




In closing, I would say that the most important thing is to ask questions when shopping for your leather. Salespeople are not usually dishonest, but they also aren't going to volunteer any negative information. You have to tease the negatives out of them with well-phrased questions. A little research on cross-examining techniques (often used by the police and attorneys) can be of great value here.

I hope you have enjoyed this brief introduction to the subtleties of the leather jacket. If so, please take the opportunity to upvote and share, so as to spread the love and wisdom all around this little thing called the internet. Remember, boys and girls; friends don't let friends buy crappy leather.