Horsehide VS. goatskin??

JimO

Active Member
Ever since reading the Avirex/Cockpit marketing hype in the 90's where they stated "nothing wears like horsehide; it's tougher than nails", I have wanted a horsehide A-2. When I went to their store in Santa Monica/Beverly Hills and actually saw one, I was not impressed with the look and decided not to buy it. Their jacket had a very, bland, smooth, plastic like finish and totally lacked any character. It was nowhere nearly as nice as my ($200 less expensive) goatskin Avirex A-2, which has both aged & served me well over the past 30 years.

Fast forward to today and my new 5 Star seal brown goatskin Doniger, on which the leather looks absolutely gorgeous & of high quality. I bought it first because @Shawn Ali told me that I would not be happy with the remains of his current seal horsehide and suggested waiting until his stock is replenished. I'm glad I followed his advice.

As 5 Star's combination of service, quality, delivery time & price point are right in my wheelhouse, I am planning on getting their Werber or Bronco A-2 (still flipping coins on the collar stand, LOL!) in the near future. From some of the images of horsehide jackets posted on the VLJ forum, both in russet & seal, (to MY eyes and personal taste) the look of the leather finish looks hit or miss, with the tendency towards bland & unexciting. Is this typical of horsehide jackets at my price point? On the flip side, the images of pretty much every goatskin jacket from 5 Star looks really nice (again, to MY eyes and personal taste.)

I understand that the majority of WWII A-2 contract jackets were made of horsehide. Other than legacy, is there any genuine functional or practical reason to spend the extra money to get horsehide over goatskin? Will the horsehide last longer or look, fit, feel, hold up, or perform any better with age & use? Will it fly the B-17 all by itself? :rolleyes:

On their website, 5 Star lists their seal brown goatskin Werber A-2 for a retail price of $160: https://www.fivestarleather.us/collections/type-a-2/products/copy-of-men-a2-1939-werber-sportswear-military-flight-distressed-goatskin-leather-jacket
Instead of waiting for their next shipment of seal brown horsehide, I just may go for this instead.

Once again, I thank all of you in advance for your knowledge, experience & insight.

Jim
 

B-Man2

Well-Known Member
Hey Jim
How’s it going?
Great questions . Not sure I can answer all of them but I’ll give you my opinions . ( keep in mind the old adage about opinions;))
Original WWII horsehide jackets were made with one single consideration, meeting the numbers required in the contract . As such they were made from smooth horsehide, grained horse, horsehide with natural scars from bobbed wire etc, and miss matched hides as well. Im lucky enough to own a few WWII original A2’s and I can honestly tell you that the hides on some are as different as night and day for example, here’s a couple of photos of two different original contracts from that period
Here’s a Rough Wear on top and an Aero below
52DCC319-6D82-49C2-89B7-CB67138C1A03.jpeg
F9CB1751-3486-43FF-B005-D7ED8D1FBB96.jpeg
A31C6C49-0807-469A-911A-0F30F3604ACE.jpeg
F254B131-8ACA-4957-B6A3-154BA208C77B.jpeg


As you can see the Aero has some nice graining while the the Rough Wear is a little smooth. On any given day that could be reversed . So here’s where I’m going with all this. High end reproduction A2 makers try to duplicate the graining effects that normally take years to develop thru explicit tanning procedures which give the horsehide the graining effects we all like. However that’s a costly process and comes with a high dollar price tag . Less expensive jacket makers trying to keep their costs down will forgo the more costly grained hides but make you a jacket that looks good and let’s you age the jacket thru time and wear.
For example here’s a nicely grained Diamond Dave A2 horsehide repro
EC87B787-1D23-4CF5-8FE2-8ED3ABD9465C.jpeg
4EE53A52-F9C0-4D2D-AFC3-DC314E06DEC3.jpeg

So it comes down to this. You can purchase a nicely grained horsehide for a high end price or you can purchase a smooth hide for a lesser price and wear it heavily over a period of time and it will achieve the look you want .
I hope I answered a few of your questions
Cheers Jim
Burt
 
Last edited:

JimO

Active Member
Hi Burt!

Great to hear from you!

Thank you so very much for taking the time to reply and post those nice images. I'm sure others are enjoying them as well.

It goes to say that paying your dues with time wearing your jacket will give it the look & shape its character. I guess in time, the plastic look will begin to go away.

With the onset of the warmer weather, I'm not necessarily in any big rush to order my next jacket. There's LOTS to think about.

Thanks for the education!

Stay safe & healthy,

Jim
 

mulceber

Well-Known Member
I don’t have too much to add to what Burt already said (and illustrated). I will say that in terms of differences between the hides, goatskin, in my experience, doesn’t really age, or at least, it ages very slowly. I have a goatskin jacket that’s pushing 20 years old, and it looks it was made a couple years ago. Horsehide and cowhide both age beautifully. Put another way, horsehide and cowhide tend to improve and gain character with age. Goatskin not so much. This isn’t a hard and fast rule, per se, and some goatskin is nicer than others, but that seems to be the trend, from what I’ve observed and heard from others.
 
Last edited:

B-Man2

Well-Known Member
Jan brings out another point with regard to goatskin . It’s very slow to age and show wear and grain . You only have to look at some early g-1 jackets to see that many of them seem to have very little wear. Horse and cow worn over the same period of time will definitely show wear and aging and develop the character that we all look for in a vintage A2 jacket.
 

mulceber

Well-Known Member
Which is of course a great quality, if you’re the type of person who always wants their clothing to look new. Most people on the VLJ, however...well, if you troll through the “what jacket are you wearing today” thread, you won’t find too many people bragging about how new their repros look. ;)
 

ausreenactor

Well-Known Member
The DD Bronco in goatskin I cracked at Christmas is the only goat that was ready to go from the outset. Had an RW 1401-P in goat that I sold to Pertti in the late 90s. I would imagine that one might be starting to soften soon.....

Horsehide is my default...
 

jeremiah

Well-Known Member
Horsehide is more durable than goat. That said, if the goat were as thick as the horsehide I’d put my money on the goat durability.

for how thin it is, goat is much more durable than a leather (Cow, horse and lamb) in the same thickness.

goat is also going to drape better unless you have some chrome tanned leather to put it up against.

goat is much more supple and stays so longer due to the lanolin oils naturally present in the hide.
this is more likely the reason the G1s are in better condition than the HH and cow A2s of the era.

all things considered though, unless you are using your jacket to sand concrete, the jackets of today will all outlast you.
 

JimO

Active Member
Horsehide is more durable than goat. That said, if the goat were as thick as the horsehide I’d put my money on the goat durability.

for how thin it is, goat is much more durable than a leather (Cow, horse and lamb) in the same thickness.

goat is also going to drape better unless you have some chrome tanned leather to put it up against.

goat is much more supple and stays so longer due to the lanolin oils naturally present in the hide.
this is more likely the reason the G1s are in better condition than the HH and cow A2s of the era.

all things considered though, unless you are using your jacket to sand concrete, the jackets of today will all outlast you.
Thank you jeremiah, this is EXACTLY the kind of information I was looking for.

I can't tell you how much I appreciate everyone's feedback and am now leaning in the direction of having @Shawn Ali make a seal brown goatskin Werber A-2.
 

Smithy

Well-Known Member
One thing which often gets overlooked is that whilst yes HH tends to develop grain and patina quicker, in the long run, you'd be hard pressed to beat goat for overall look in the end.

I bring this jacket up all the time when this comes up but it's more than relevant because it's the perfect demonstration of just how good, aged, used goatskin looks. It's Mike's (Bluebottle here at VLJ) vintage civvy A-2. This is a hundred times better than horse IMHO. And it's tougher too.

The photos should still be visible...

https://www.thefedoralounge.com/threads/civilian-a-2.31687/

I'd have this over HH any day.
 

B-Man2

Well-Known Member
It’s a beautiful jacket for sure , and I’m not trying to put a down side to it, but I’d bet that jacket is at least 25 or more years old to have developed that nicely worn look. I like goat jackets and they do look outstanding over time. It’s just that they take a bit longer to get to that stage . So for me, it comes down to being fortunate enough to have one of each , a horse and a goat .... BINGO!!
Problem Solved.
 

Smithy

Well-Known Member
Tim, many thanks for this link, never see this amazing jacket before.
It's an absolute stunner Dmitry. It seems like a lot of folks are drawn to HH thinking it's superior to goat in terms of aesthetics but it's not. Goat can and does look absolutely spectacular with wear. The grain pattern that pops with goat is unbeaten too. I love horse but I'm just not suckered in with the whole HH looks better and ages better than goat.

Goat might take a bit more work but you'll be rewarded at the end of it ;-)
 

Flightengineer

Well-Known Member
I’ll probably say banality, but I think that such a beautiful patina on this jacket is associated with the tanning method used in wartime. Probably, everything was changed from the mid-1950s, so even the rather old goatskin G-1s, although they have a beautiful grain, don't have such patina, for example, they simply have scratches in the places where the zipper contacted with the leather or where jacket contacted with the details of the cockpit.On the other hand, my AVI Bronco goatskin very quickly got nice fade, but I think this is more an exception than the rule now.
 

mulceber

Well-Known Member
It’s a beautiful jacket for sure , and I’m not trying to put a down side to it, but I’d bet that jacket is at least 25 or more years old to have developed that nicely worn look. I like goat jackets and they do look outstanding over time. It’s just that they take a bit longer to get to that stage . So for me, it comes down to being fortunate enough to have one of each , a horse and a goat .... BINGO!!
Problem Solved.
That's my feeling as well. That jacket looks fantastic, but I bet it took forever to get to that place. If you've already got a goatskin jacket, I think it's worth trying a different leather.
 
Top