Style & Grooming

How to Get the Perfect Leather Jacket

The legendary motorcycle clothiers share their advice on choosing and caring for a leather jacket

  • TextTed Stansfield
  • PhotographyGareth Powell

On a side street off Tottenham Court Road in Central London lies Lewis Leathers Ltd., a leather jacket shop – or rather, the leather jacket shop. Enter it and you’ll be greeted by the distinct and alluring smell of leather and rails upon rails of the best biker jackets money can buy.

The story of Lewis Leathers Ltd. began around 125 years ago, in 1892, when Mr Lewis Issacs and his sons decided to enter into the clothing business. Fast forward 60 years and this company (now under management of Lewis’ eldest son, David) became known as a “Motorcyclist’s Paradise” on account of their leather goods and, around a decade later, gained popularity among the flourishing mods and rockers subcultures. And then, in the 70s, their jackets were worn by the punks – such as The Clash’s Joe Strummer and The Sex Pistols’ Sid Vicious – which has since cemented their importance within British subculture.

Today Lewis Leathers remains one of our nation’s most iconic heritage brands and a world-renowned authority on leather jackets. As the company opens a new store in Tokyo, we asked the Director of Lewis Leathers Ltd., Derek Harris, to share his advice on leather jackets – from choosing the right one to caring for it in a way that ensures it stands the test of time. Here we present, Lewis Leathers’s guide to getting the perfect leather jacket.

1. Choose the right leather

“If your jacket is for motorcycling you won’t want anything thinner than 1mm-1.1mm in thickness and that leather should be cow, horse or goat, the first two being the more common. Sheep leather is fine for non-motorcycle wear but its abrasion resistance is very low when compared to the former. However it is soft and pliable from new, which many customers find to their liking, whereas the cow and horse take a little longer to break-in.”

2. Make sure you get the right fit

“The fit of the jacket is very important. Check sleeve length with arms by the sides, extended forwards and also in a raised position, make sure there is ample room for movement. Pockets should be conveniently positioned to allow ease of access. Check that cuffs, when zipped in a closed position, are snug and keep warmth in – they should not be loose when closed.”

3. Don’t forget about the lining

“Presumably the jacket will be worn in chilly weather so check it is adequately lined or has space for a warm sweater or similar when needed.”

4. Always check the repair policy

“Ask what the repair policy is (ours is three years), also enquire about leather care, this is important in the long-term. Maintaining your jacket will ensure it remains supple and water-resistant throughout its lifetime.”

5. Look after it well

Always allow your jacket to dry in a cool airy place. Never place it in front of direct heat such as a fire or radiator as this will cause damage and lead to the loss of the leather’s natural oils. Look after your jacket and it will look after you.

Lewis Leathers Ltd. can be found at 3-5 Whitfield St, London W1T 2SA.