Leather jacket brands usually have either a link to the past through supply of jackets to military, in particular WW1 and 2 fighter pilots, or creation of leather jackets for motorcycle protection. The rest are usually some derivative of the two leaning further into the fashion realm.
The ones we are interested in are those which have a link to function, or are at least influenced by a function of the past, so the old flight jackets and motorcycle jackets (without modern day armour) are the ones which are of interest. A bit of history and heritage makes all the difference.
Of course, motorcycle protection is imperative on the road so there are quite a few makers of motorcycle leather jackets, but seeing as this article isn’t specifically about motorcycle leathers, we’ll leave that to others to cover.
Purveyors of menswear will get into the cut, quality and provenance of leather, tannery, hardware, and general commitment to excellence but that can also come down to opinion and personal experience.
There are of course many more brands geared towards motorcycle riding and border the fashion spectrum. Price ranges of the four brands chosen here vary greatly which is a good thing as we all don’t have $10,000 to spend on a leather jacket!
Top of the pile has to be Chapal for their history and continued support of automotive events and culture. Starting out serving WW2 pilots both in France and RAAF Chapal continued to design and develop their range to eventually include carefully crafted shoes, helmets, and many other items which often find their way to premier events such as the Mille Miglia, Pebble Beach, Goodwood Revival and the like.
Chapal do all their own work from sourcing to tanning with all products produced in France. Read more about it here.
The USAAF below retails for just over $6,300 AUD.
Although Belstaff primarily produce leather jackets for the motorcycling fraternity, they have a huge range of jackets which aren’t geared toward riding. The company has its roots in motorcycle road racing, specifically the Isle of Man TT, and throughout the years have amassed a list of well known customers such as Amy Johnson, Amelia Earhart, Malcolm Campbell, TE Lawrence, Che’ Guevara, Steve McQueen, Jackie Stewart, Ewan McGregor…and on it goes.
Known for their versatility, Belstaff supplied garments and much more during WW2 before focusing back on civilian life, still with a nod to the motorcycling community.
The Clenshaw bomber jacket below retails for just over $1,600 AUD.
Grand Prix Originals
GPO is a favourite amongst auto enthusiasts for their accessible range of clothing and luggage but also for their homage to Steve McQueen and use of Gulf branding. They have a few leather jackets at entirely reasonable prices so well worth a look if budget is tight.
The Grand Prix Originals Belrose jacket below retails for $600 AUD.
Schott have been making leather jackets 1913 and have built up a reputation for quality. With a tonne of styles on offer, prices which won’t break the bank account, and such a rich history these jackets can’t be ignored. Want a bit of history to go along with your Schott jacket? Try Marlon Brando wearing a Schott Perfecto in The Wild Ones, or James Dean clinging to his everywhere he went. Later, the punk scene adopted the Perfecto through the likes of The Ramones and Sex Pistols.
The Schott Men’s Light Weight Oiled Cowhide Flight Jacket below retails for just over $1,100 AUD.