Since 2016


September 18, 2020 10 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 is a love that is deep-seated for us over here at Independence Brothers. Although we love all things leather, we usually end up focusing on leather jackets. If you have been to our blog before, you have seen the articles about every facet of leather jackets: from style to history to company reviews. The leather world, however, is massive and expands so many other products, even within outerwear. Today we’re going to focus on something different: leather vests. Leather vests may be a less common outerwear option versus the leather jacket, but it is still just as excellent an option.

Leather Vests: A Brief History

Leather vests came about in a similar fashion and for similar reasons to leather jackets. Meant for protection, leather vests were birthed as a lighter alternative to leather jackets. We know that leather jackets can be heavy! Enter the vest. Wearing a vest instead allows for a lighter protection alternative. The vests provide the heavy protection that leather affords around the middle, but leaves your arms open for something lighter to wear, such as a long sleeve shirt.

In the same way that leather jackets evolved from practical wear to fashion wear, leather vests did the same thing. They became a fashion piece and a statement. They are attractive and versatile. Leather vests, as does all fashion outerwear, tells the world a little bit of something about you before you do yourself.

Leather Vests: Where to Find Them

Let’s say you want to take the plunge and purchase yourself a leather vest. Where can you find them? Luckily, there are a few options out there. We have rounded up some of our favorites here:


LeatherUp - LeatherUp is a company that started around 20 years ago. Starting at a storefront in downtown Los Angeles, the two co-founders had the vision to bring affordable leather jackets to people online at the fraction of the price they would see in malls. At that point, online shopping, especially online clothes shopping, was a novel idea. Their concept was to make their own exclusive clothing using the founder’s 25 years of manufacturing experience and make it better. They use high-quality leathers, have a quality fit, quality liners, quality zippers, and cut out the middlemen retailers.

LeatherUp leather vests come in at an affordable price. Kids vests on sale start as low as around $30, and you can go as high as $350 for adult vests. They are also a company that has sales (their Labor Day weekend sales took off as much as 50% off!) so you can always keep an eye out for those. Our favorite out of the LeatherUp vests was one of their best sellers. It is a Milwaukee black leather vest that has heated technology in it. This is something we don’t see very often, so our interest was piqued! It is made of a 1.2 - 1.3mm thick premium naked rugged cowhide leather shell combined with heating panels intricately placed in the chest and back areas. This vest delivers plenty of heat where you need it. Using the heat feature is easy as well. All you have to do is simply connect into the motorcycle power lead through an included 12V wired battery harness that hooks up to your motorcycle's battery and then to the vest. When you are not on the motorcycle, heat can be delivered through the optional battery pack that fits into the vest pocket and can heat up the panels in the chest and back. The battery pack comes with the vest. This allows you to do a full range of activities when heat is needed. The best part is, the heat level can be adjusted easily on this vest. There are three different temperature ranges - low, medium, and high - that can be selected to make sure you can find the exact temperature you need to be comfortable. In addition, the vest has two lower zippered hand pockets and accordion stretch side panels for extra room. It comes at a cost of about $330, but we’ve seen it for as low as $240 during sales. They have options for ladies as well, coming in at a lower price tag, especially when it doesn’t include the heating feature.


Wilsons - Wilsons was founded “For the Love of Leather.” In 1899, Berman Brothers Fur, Wool, and Hides was founded by three brothers. They were, as the company says, infatuated and obsessed with leather. Their inspiration came from the beauty of hides. In the 1940s, Wilsons House of Suede was founded in California, and it was known for its suede and leather products. Both companies were acquired by Melville Corporation in 1982 and were merged as Wilsons Leather a few years later. They are currently owned by AM Retail Group and have their headquarters in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Wilsons Leather has an online retail existence as well as approximately 167 stores nationally. They also have outlet stores around the country as well, allowing customers to purchase their products either in person at a brick and mortar store or online to be delivered their home. Wilsons boasts handcrafted, affordable products. Their brand personality is self-labeled as “quality, stylish, smart, genuine, cool, and approachable.”

Our favorite of theirs is the Don Leather Rider Vest. Wilsons considers it, “the perfect wingman.” The vest is crafted with heavy-duty premium naked cowhide leather that is 1.1 - 1.2mm thickness along. There is a cut-away hem and side laces for comfort. It’s built for riders. The leather is tougher and the styling elements enhance performance for bikers who take it to the streets. The lining is 100% polyester with a full mesh lining as well. There is a 4-snap front, slip-in hand pockets, two interior pockets, and leather lace-up sides. It prices out at about $150.


Shepler’s and Scully’s - Shepler’s is an American western wear company that began as a harness company in Wichita, Kansas back in 1899. The company has then expanded not only locations but products as well. They sell different types of western wear, including boots and leather jackets.

Scully’s dates back to 1906. They were a manufacturer of flight jackets and helmets for pilots in both World Wars. Their involvement in historical events has resulted in the display of several of their items in the Smithsonian Institute and the Museum of Flight in Seattle. Scully products are found in over 3,000 stores around the world and a growing number of websites. Shepler’s is one of them.

The Scully whipstitch lamb leather vest is one that caught our eye on the Shepler’s website. It is made of soft, supple lamb leather with a beautiful whipstitch lacing at the collar, a five-button front placket, and pockets. It is Western by design with front and back yokes, as well as two front welt pockets. It has great detailing and one handy interior pocket as well as a 100% nylon acetate lining. The price is about $180. As of this writing, Shepler’s had a deal with 20% off any order of $100 or more, so that discount could count towards this vest as well, lowering the cost.


Harley-Davidson - Harley-Davidson is an absolute classic company. They are one of the most well known American motorcycle companies, and people who know nothing about motorcycles, riding, or leather, probably know of Harley-Davidson. They are steeped in history and longevity, coming into existence in about 1903, out of a small shed in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The story goes that four young men lit a cultural wildfire that would grow and spread across geographies and generations. Their innovation and imagination for what was possible on two wheels sparked a transportation revolution and a motorcycle culture that would make Harley-Davidson one of the most recognized and revered brands in the world.

When it comes to their vests, we liked their classically styled Tradition II Leather Vest. Harley-Davidson keeps it simple so you can make it your own with patches, pins, and more if you want to. It is cut from midweight hard-wearing cowhide leather and includes adjustable lacing for a custom fit. In addition to the adjustable side lacing, there is a snap front. There are snap hand-warmer pockets and embossed graphics. The vest is there for comfort as well with their polyester twill lining. The price is around $140, which is pretty middle of the road for leather vests price-wise and relatively affordable.

A leather vest

How to Style your Leather Vest

After searching and comparing, possibly designing and ordering, you have found a leather vest that fits your style and personality. Now, how to style it with your everyday wear? There are various ways you can style a leather vest. Similar to other types of vests as well as other leather outerwear, it is a versatile piece that can be worn in a myriad of ways. Here are a few:


Formal - For men, a good leather vest is the perfect add on for formal wear. While we probably wouldn’t recommend that you wear it to your wedding (although, who are we to stop you?), it can definitely be worn to someone else’s when you are a guest. And if you really want to wear it to your wedding, go for it - just make sure that it is a dark leather for a clean, sheik look.

A more common formal scenario for a leather vest would probably be an office setting or meetings. Wear it as you would a 3-piece suit, and follow the same rules. Your vest has to be slightly lighter while the shirt should be white. Then decide the tie on the basis of the color you have chosen.

For ladies, fashion is a little bit different. A leather vest wouldn’t really go with a gown or cocktail attire, but you could throw it over a more casual dress or a skirt and top.


Casual - Leather vests shine in casual wear. For men, you can wear them easily with jeans. The color of denim dictates the casualness of your outfit, as does the shirt underneath the vest. You can have a more relaxed T-shirt or a plaid button-down. On your feet, you can wear sneakers, cowboy boots, or shoes. As long as you make sure to match your leather appropriately, the options are endless for leather vest casual wear.

Ladies are in a similar boat, especially because fashion is so versatile for them. For females, you can easily wear a leather vest with jeans and can go laid-back or a bit more dressed up for the top. The shoes you wear change the outfit - you can rock a pair of heels, wear sneakers, or don sandals. As it gets cooler, you can wear boots, completing your perfect fall look.

PHYSICAL - The Admiral Moto

PHYSICAL - The Suede Double Rider

PHYSICAL - The Technical Bomber

Should You Go Custom?

If you’re new to Independence Brothers, you may not have heard about how much we love custom. If you have been here before, you probably get just as excited about custom as we do. There are many, many reasons that we think custom is the way to go. Here are a few:

  1. Custom is uniquely, truly, unabashedly you.When you wear something custom, you have designed its creation. You create this piece to fit you, your personality, and your style. This is a huge draw for people to express themselves. It ensures that their vest encompasses everything they want it to. No one else out there is going to have your exact vest. It is something that you created and it is unique to you.
  2. Custom fits like a glove.We have all heard the saying when something “fits like a glove.” What does that mean? Gloves are supposed to be snug against your hands to protect you from the elements. Nothing is wrong with having standard sizes. But, as we know, people are not standard. So, while standard sizes do work, having something custom fit makes it that much better. It was meant for your body.


While we love custom and always recommend it, there are some things you should consider before committing to a bespoke product. The two main downsides to custom pieces are the price point and the return if anything goes awry. The main con that goes along with having this kind of a vest is the price tag. While there are affordable leather companies out there, bespoke leather products are still more expensive than ready-to-order ones. This is because of the time, energy, and effort that goes into making it, as well as because it is custom and unique. If you decide to go custom, you can research affordable custom leather companies. Some companies, such as Independence Brothers, build the organization on the mission of affordable custom options. This is something to consider if you are on a tighter budget or want to save dollars.

The other con that goes with having a bespoke leather product is the return and exchange policy on them. Because it is custom made, these are usually purchases that cannot be returned or exchanged. Many retailers have policies to help the consumer if there was an error on the company’s end. However, in general, custom can’t be returned or exchanged so once you decide to purchase it, you are committing to it.

We have spoken about custom jackets before, but we feel the same about vests. Having a bespoke leather vest adds an entirely new level to that feeling about what they can do for you. A custom product can be even more special to the person wearing it. You were involved in its creation and design and you chose everything by hand. Then, a company created this just for you. The added level of personalization can bring you a closer level of connection to your clothes.

How to style a leather vest

Leather Vests: Final Thoughts

We love everything leather, and leather vests are no exception. We hope this article has been informative and helpful for anyone who is considering purchasing a leather vest. Remember that those of us at Independence Brothers are glad to help with any leather questions or purchasing inquiries you might have. We hope you are able to find a leather vest that you love as much as we love leather vests themselves. Feel free to click around our site to see the custom full grain options that are out there at affordable prices for you. Read our blog for more information about leather jackets, leather jacket companies, and the wide world of leather itself. Comment below if you have purchased any leather vests that have really WOWed you and you want to share. Most importantly, happy shopping!

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