Since 2016


December 17, 2020 9 min read

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.

Leather Jackets - An Overview

There are a lot of different leathers out there. Leather products are made from a variety of animals. Their quality also differs, which is dependent on the grain. If you’ve read previous articles on our blog, you’ve heard us dive deeper into this. But, let’s do a refresher:

Types of leather:

The type of leather is determined by which animal your jacket comes from. It is one of the most important factors when it comes to your jacket. The animal that the leather product is made from 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.

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

There is also faux leather as well. We’ll go into how to tell the difference in a bit between real and fake.


Quality Leather:

The quality of the leather is indicated by its grain. There are a few grain options:

  • Top grain
  • Full grain
  • Corrected
  • Genuine

The quality of leather refers to how altered or close the leather is to its natural setting. This also has an effect on how the leather feels. Leather quality is determined by how the leather has been handled before being turned into a jacket.

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. That can be uncomfortable for some people. As a result, many times top grain leather is preferred for that reason – it leads to more comfortable jackets. The bottom layer 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.)

Corrected leather 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 leather that has not been split, meaning 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 in the leather. 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. Some people love a patina, others don’t. Full grain leather is the highest quality leather out of all of them. Full grain leather is 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 types of leather

What is the difference between all of these leather types?

The differences in leather affect how the jacket feels. Certain animals are more supple than others. Certain grains are tougher or heavier.

When it comes to animals, cowhide is one of the strongest and stiffest leathers. For some, that could be a good thing. It is not affected by wear and tear as much and provides an excellent layer of protection. For others, that stiffness is not what they want to wear as a jacket. The softest leathers are deerskin and lambskin. While they are strong leathers and great against a chill, they lack sturdiness.

In addition to the way they feel, the quality of the jacket matters for the thickness of it. Full grain leather jackets are the highest quality jacket. They have the most layers and are therefore the thickest, which is why they are used as protective outerwear. Other quality leathers are thinner.

How can I tell if my leather jacket is real?

There’s a lot of faux leather out there. If that’s what you’re looking for, go for it. For people looking for real leather and worry about accidentally purchasing faux, there’s a few key things to look out for:

  1. The touch and feel of the leather: Real leather has a softer, genuine feel to it, while fake leather feels more synthetic and plastic. If you are shopping in a store, feel out the jacket. Many stores carry both real and fake leather jackets, so you can compare the two.
  2. The price:Unsurprisingly, real leather costs more than fake leather. There is a range of leather jacket prices. But, if it seems suspiciously low, there is a high chance that it is a fake leather jacket. Our Independence Brothers blog talks about a lot of different leather jacket companies and their price points; use those for a starting reference.
  3. The texture pattern: Real leather has a unique texture pattern. It comes from the animal, so there are uneven variations on the jacket. Faux leather is synthetically made, resulting in even texture throughout. Remember that the quality of leather can also affect the texture pattern.
  4. The smell:This might sound strange at first, but the smell of a leather jacket is telling. Real leather has a musty, natural smell. Faux leather, on the other hand, will smell more like plastic, or nothing.
  5. The edges: The edges of a real leather jacket are not smooth and perfect the way those of a faux leather jacket are. They will be a bit more rough and coarse.

There are a few other ways to check if the leather is real or faux, but we don’t necessarily recommend them (the fire test? No thank you!). The methods above are the most common and easiest way to tell if your jacket is real or faux leather.

How to care for a leather jacket

How do I look after my leather jacket?

Longevity is always what we are looking for here. We want that beautiful leather jacket to last as long as possible. The care and maintenance of your jacket is an important part of making that happen.

Caring for your jacket -Every leather jacket comes with instructions on the best way to care for it, but there are some practices that work well across the board.

Storing your jacket -When it comes to storing your jacket, the first step is to make sure you are hanging it up on a wide hanger. Hangers that are too narrow will lead to the eventual droop of your jacket. Make sure the hanger is wide enough to support the shoulders of the jacket. You should also use wooden hangers - never wire. Wire hangers are too thin to support the weight of the jacket. Certain woods, such as cedar, can absorb light odors that may be inside your jacket, but any wide, wooden hanger is the hanger of choice.

If you do need to put your jacket in storage, there are a few guidelines to follow. First, make sure that the place you are storing your jacket is relatively climate controlled. Too much heat or direct sunlight is not good for leather - it can expand, dry out, or crack. Direct sunlight can also cause the jacket to fade. Too much moisture, on the other hand, will seep into your jacket and could cause it to shrink. The place you are storing your jacket should be cool and dry.

Similarly to hangers, a wooden trunk or suitcase is best for storage. Plastic storage containers, while commonly sued, will not work here. Your leather jacket won’t be able to breathe and it will cut down on its lifetime. If you are storing your jacket, be sure to lay it flat in the storage container and do not fold it - remember those creases we mentioned earlier. Be sure to leave a gap between the lid and the base of the trunk to let air flow in. If you are using a suitcase, leave part of it unzipped for that purpose. Be sure to take the jacket out of storage for a few hours every few weeks to air out. And don’t store it near other clothing. The dyes there can easily get soaked by your jacket.

Long term storage care is important for your leather jacket, but so is daily care. Build ups on leather are undesirable. To avoid this, wipe down any dust, oils, and dirt on your jacket with a leather cleaner. Regular wiping is a great preventative measure for pore contamination.

When it comes to taking care of your jacket on a daily basis, products such as leather conditioner are your friend. Make sure to get one that is meant for your leather jacket! As always, read the care instructions that come with it. Generally speaking, you should condition your jacket every few months. This keeps the leather supple. Similar to moisturizer for humans to avoid dry skin, we want to moisturize our leather to avoid drying cracks.

PHYSICAL - The Admiral Moto

PHYSICAL - The Suede Double Rider

PHYSICAL - The Technical Bomber

Should I go custom?

Whether or not to get a custom leather jacket is the new age-old question. Those of us over here at Independence Brothers love a good bespoke jacket. It isn’t only because we specialize in affordable custom jackets, but because it adds an extra layer of awesome to our favorite thing. Here’s why:

  1. It is custom. The first pro of having a bespoke leather jacket is the custom factor, which is the biggest draw. You create this jacket to fit you, and nothing else exists like it. This is a huge bonus for people to express themselves. You can make sure this jacket encompasses everything you want it to. You can choose everything to your liking. While there are plenty of great already made jackets, having a custom leather jacket allows you to choose your color, style, lining, and leather. Instead of having to choose from jackets that already exist, you can create your own masterpiece with the leather jacket company. That knowledge itself is pretty awesome. Your jacket becomes more of a statement as well as an extension of yourself. Outerwear is the first thing people see on someone, especially when you are outside. Now, the first thing everyone sees is more a glimpse into who you are.
  2. It truly fits.This is a big thing, especially when it comes to breaking in that jacket. If it is custom, the jacket will fit you in the truest way that a jacket can. If you are ordering from pre-made, pre-designed factory leather jackets, standard sizes are the option. Figuring out your size and measurements can be more of a process than just sending it your measurements, depending on what size you are. Even when you pick a size, there is the possibility that it does not fit as snugly and securely as you would like it to. Leather jackets should wear as if you have a second skin, and if you fall in-between sizes, that may not be the case. Bespoke leather jackets are perfect for anyone who has trouble finding jackets that fit them because you cannot get them in a mass-market store. And when it comes to breaking in the jacket, custom ones already fit you that much better. You will still have to break the jacket in, but one that was made to fit your size will by default fit better than a standard jacket.
Custom leather jacket

Showing leather we care

The care and storage of leather may seem like an intimidating and daunting task, but it is just a few easy tips to remember. The good news is, you have blogs and companies such as ours as Independence Brothers that you can refer to. We love leather and want it to last as long as possible, so if your question here wasn’t answered, you can always reach out and we can help.

We want our jackets to last us a lifetime. While that might not happen, storing it properly makes it possible. Leather lasts a long time - some of us have leather jackets from our parents. That can’t happen without careful care. We hope this article gave you easy to remember storage and care tips that in turn extend the life of your leather jacket!

Leave a comment

Comments will be approved before showing up.