Recommend me a leather jacket

mulceber

Well-Known Member
At the moment it sounds like Aero might be your best bet, unless you decide you want a russet jacket. BK is great, but if they aren't getting back to you...

That said, I received an auto-response from BK a couple days ago: they've recently reopened from lockdown, and are still getting caught up on their backlog of emails. They may get back to you yet.
 
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MrBlue

Member
At the moment it sounds like Aero might be your best bet, unless you decide you want a russet jacket. BK is great, but if they aren't getting back to you...
From what I've heard about BK, they aren't good at getting back to people. Great at making jackets but bad at getting back to people!

So, I'm going to wait at least a week.

My wallet does feel like it is burning at the moment, but I think a little more patience is required. I only emailed BK last night.

In any case, even if I wanted an Aero jacket, they can't even start making it for another month.
 

Nickb123

Well-Known Member
From what I've heard about BK, they aren't good at getting back to people. Great at making jackets but bad at getting back to people!

So, I'm going to wait at least a week.

My wallet does feel like it is burning at the moment, but I think a little more patience is required. I only emailed BK last night.

In any case, even if I wanted an Aero jacket, they can't even start making it for another month.
Definitely use this time to research fit. Search all of the forums for members with similar heights, weights, etc. so you'll be able to make an informed size decision when that moment arrives!
 

33-1729

Well-Known Member
Skip, a member here has one of BK's ANJ 3s, looks great.
They also have a 1756 and a Perry among their originals.... So can make those.

The 1756 is trim, high arm holes and often tends to be a bit shorter, compared to some other contract at a given size. It was a late war contract, that still retains a collar stand. The neck line sits quite high.
Better for really trim/ skinny people. Im not sure how comfortable to actually wear. Perhaps others here could comment.
I didn’t know the 1756 had high armholes, but now it makes sense why Ken would prefer that one. Most jackets/shirts have wide armholes for all different body types, but the jacket will bunch up when the arms are raised like in your photo above. If the jacket is a proper fit for your body the high armholes will provide better movement, no bunching, making it a more comfortable fit (and what every high end custom suit/shirt maker will automatically do).

Breatafett’s post in #51 of the three jackets is really helpful. Note that BK recommended the 40” chest size (on the left), but if the other jacket dimensions don’t suit you it will not be a comfortable fit. In addition, most jackets today have an extra 5-8” on the chest over the label size and that’s what many people expect. (For comparison my 33-1729 has a 44” chest and my chest is just over 42”, but it fits like a glove and is very comfortable. It’s also the size Gary Eastman recommended.)

The point is that when you take all the measurements for you make certain they line up with whatever you chose. Sitting on your jacket will restrict movement, so don’t make it too long (it is a pilot jacket). After you try on a few it will all be clear.
 

Lord Flashheart

Well-Known Member
I've just been catching up on this thread. As a newbie myself here it's fascinating to see the depth of help so quickly offered. I'm kicking myself for not asking a few daft questions here myself before now. After a shed load of soul searching about size/fit/cost of getting it wrong through all of last year I visited Eastmans pop-up in the autumn and picked up a G-1 55J14. I really wasn't in the market for a G-1. What I wanted was an A-2. But who knew? I found the ELC 55J14 to be great to wear and I'm a believer. Maybe I'll even admit to the 80's and Top Gun being my generation. Eastmans customer service was very good. I have since picked up a Star Sportswear A-2 from them as I love the colour and have been really pleased with that too. This has given me the confidence to place an order for a Platon Dubow (though I'm still waiting but everyone here says be patient so I'm getting on with enjoying what I have). What's the point? Well, this place might be about vintage leather jackets but the reality for most, me included, has to be a good reproduction (did I mention I popped up to see Aero just after Christmas and they were such a friendly bunch I've an Aero Late model RAF jacket on order too?). And it's great to see such willingness to share advice here. Doesn't stop me appreciating the originals and recognising the truth that these were workwear in a different age. A-2, G-1, M422a they're all great jackets. Good advice here is worth its weight :)
 

Smithy

Well-Known Member
Late to the party here. As this is your first (most likely A-2 rather than the others) I'd personally go for custom if you can. A-2s are funny old things and to hit the sweet spot on off the rack (and with that I include long sizings) can be bloody difficult for a beginner.

You're tallish and you say you're beefy in the shoulders which can make getting a standard A-2 fit nicely problematic. I'm the same, actually lighter than you but my shoulders, shoulder width and upper arms are biggish from swimming and weight training. A-2s were designed to be worn by "kids" from the immediate post Depression generation, so lean and wiry, hence they can be difficult for more modern builds.

If I was you I'd go Aero or BK (they're full custom aren't they?) for your first as it's custom fit just because with your body shape you're in that zone to have problems getting a good fit unless you know what you're doing measurement-wise.

Once you get an A-2 that fits then you get an idea about what sort of measurements work for you with your next jacket - although even then A-2 fit varies quite a lot from contract to contract.

Seeing as it sounds like you're inclined to a trimmer contract and depending on your waist size (if it's not too large and you do have a noticeable drop from your chest measurement to your waist measurement) an Aero Bronco in their jerky horse could be a nice jacket to start your A-2 journey. It'll be well made, you can customise the fit and details to suit which seems like a good place to start for you.
 

MrBlue

Member
Late to the party here. As this is your first (most likely A-2 rather than the others) I'd personally go for custom if you can. A-2s are funny old things and to hit the sweet spot on off the rack (and with that I include long sizings) can be bloody difficult for a beginner.

You're tallish and you say you're beefy in the shoulders which can make getting a standard A-2 fit nicely problematic. I'm the same, actually lighter than you but my shoulders, shoulder width and upper arms are biggish from swimming and weight training. A-2s were designed to be worn by "kids" from the immediate post Depression generation, so lean and wiry, hence they can be difficult for more modern builds.

If I was you I'd go Aero or BK (they're full custom aren't they?) for your first as it's custom fit just because with your body shape you're in that zone to have problems getting a good fit unless you know what you're doing measurement-wise.

Once you get an A-2 that fits then you get an idea about what sort of measurements work for you with your next jacket - although even then A-2 fit varies quite a lot from contract to contract.

Seeing as it sounds like you're inclined to a trimmer contract and depending on your waist size (if it's not too large and you do have a noticeable drop from your chest measurement to your waist measurement) an Aero Bronco in their jerky horse could be a nice jacket to start your A-2 journey. It'll be well made, you can customise the fit and details to suit which seems like a good place to start for you.
Thanks! Yes I think custom is what I will do.

So... I'm about to say something sacriligious, so if you are a hardcore A2 fan, make sure you are sitting down.

I've asked both Aero and BK if they can make me a custom jacket that has the shell and fit of the ANJ-3 including the bi-swing back and under arm gussets but with the collar, zip, storm flap and front packets of the RW 27752 (BK) or 1938 Aero (Aero).

Reason being, what you said about fit is exactly my concern. Specifically, getting something that fits the shoulders while not being baggy around the waist. It seems that is difficult to get right with the A2.

I prefer the silhouette of the ANJ 3 when viewed from the back, and I prefer the early A2s when viewed from the front. So I want to combine them.

My thinking is frankly its a lot of money to spend and I'm having it custom made anyway, so why not go that extra step!

BK have responded and said that they can do this for GBP 50 extra. Which is fine. No response from Aero but I only sent the email last night.

If both say that they can do it, then I have a difficult decision to make.

If I go BK, I have to choose between regular dark seal, and the Captain Hilts spec dark seal, which is seal overdyed with dark seal.

If I go Aero, I'd go with their Vicenza dark seal.

Their prices would work out similar. People around here seem to regard BKs as works of art. But, the interesting thing is that I don't see that many mentions of Aero as a supplier. So, its difficult for me to gauge how good they are compared to BK.

If I'm honest I'm leaning towards going with BK and seal overdyed to dark seal.
 

Brettafett

Well-Known Member
BK's overdid jacket, this will rub off a bit over time and wear to give a vintage look, so be aware of that.

Have a look at Skip's BK ANJ-3... pg 16

BK's Civilian ANJ-3

Jeremiah's BK Acro in dark seal
This jacket is well-worn and you can see it has not changed colour or lost that much top coating. It has aged beautifully and looks almost like an original WW2 jacket.

Skips Dubow in dark seal
 

MrBlue

Member
Thanks, all very helpful to read about people who have owned them and see pictures.

BK's overdid jacket, this will rub off a bit over time and wear to give a vintage look, so be aware of that.

......

This jacket is well-worn and you can see it has not changed colour or lost that much top coating. It has aged beautifully and looks almost like an original WW2 jacket.
So, if I understand correctly, this is the difference:

Liberty Dark Seal will develop character, grain and patina quickly, but not lose much colour.

Liberty Seal -> Dark Seal overdye will develop character, grain and patina quickly, but will also lose some of that dark seal overdye, especially in frequently rubbed places.

Does that sound right?
 

Brettafett

Well-Known Member
I would say so, yes. Exactly

Andy would have a say about this Im sure. And there may be others with these jackets who may also have an opinion.
 

MrBlue

Member
Thought I'd share some of what Andy wrote to me in case it is useful or interesting to anyone else:

We make the Great Escape jacket with either seal or dark seal color so customers can choose. Legend has it that the film jacket was a russet jacket re-dyed dark seal at the Quartermaster depot. Our theory however is that it was just seal (unless he wore more than one jackets in the film). The hard fact is that all leathers will look darker indoors, and lighter color outdoors. But McQueen's jacket does the opposite. It is darker outside under the sun and lighter inside his prison cell. That leads us to believe that the true color is not what is shown in the outdoor takes due to film processing or coloring techniques (Technicolor) and others like brightness/contrast adjustments that may or may not have been used by the film makers. The Japanese brands who first produced replicas of his jacket all made them in dark seal so in the market's subconscious the jacket was dark seal. We are happy to see lately that some Japanese brand has changed their version to seal.
Tanneries apply a protective coating on modern leathers which makes them look brand new even after 10 years of wearing. We have asked our tannery not to overdo it with the protective coating so that the jacket to get an aged look after some wearing. There is no durability concern. The worst thing that can happen is your A-2 to look more like an original. Of course, we advise against any artificial aging methods like hot water treatment etc. Nothing will happen it with normal use, but if you drag it behind a truck like here
https://i.pinimg.com/originals/fa/c1/c9/fac1c964b54ea23132388c09fb01477d.jpg
or mess with it and abuse it in any other way we cannot guarantee that you will be happy with the result.
 

Brettafett

Well-Known Member
Yeah, Andy has some really good points.

All these high end maker's horsehides are chosen specifically because they are the closest match to what was used in WW2, as is possible.

And these leathers will wear in and develop character exactly as they should. All dependant on how one wears it.
If you treat your jacket well, and look after it, it will retain much of its 'newness', but if you chuck into a corner for the dog to sleep on, wear it while replacing a spark-plug etc... Wear it in the rain and then climb a tree... you get the point. It will wear in quickly - which is what most guys are after.

The jackets don't lose colour. What happens is that over time, dependant on wear, patina develops, high spots rub off and base layers begin showing through. This happens naturally and is desired.
That hot water treatment some of us have experimented with has unpredictable outcomes. This CAN change the colour of the leather a little, it may become a bit lighter as some colour gets washed out. But you don't have to worry about this.

Middle ground is don't baby it, but don't mistreat it and it will wear-in naturally.

I had an Aero 15142 in Jerky seal, its was a lovely jacket. After a short while, there were areas that rubbed off to reveal the reddy undertones of the base layer - just like originals.
All my ELC's have done the same. The Warhorse is a lovely veg-tanned hide. Lots of hue variation and character right out the box. This hide also quickly develops that vintage look with high spots rubbing off, etc. The Timeworn Warhorse in many cases looks great, but sometimes it can appear overdone. This would obviously get the vintage look a lot quicker.
My three BK jackets are beginning to wear-in (granted I have a few jackets now that I wear), but tbh none of them have had much 'wear off' yet. These are my favs! They are going to look incredible in a couple of years time.
My Platon Dubow has a lovely hide also, and this jacket has had some high spots start rubbing off and its beginning to look amazing.

Based on what you were saying earlier, Id recommend the Dark Seal Liberty. The slightly darker WW2 brown knit will match this better than the mid brown (if that's what you're after), then if you want contrasting thread, consider the green/ olive green thread...
 

MrBlue

Member
To be honest I'd love it if I could find out what a seal -> dark seal overdye would look like in 12 months time. But they seem to be very rarely chosen BK jackets, so few people have them.

I do have slight OCD when it comes to... things changing. So, I guess what worries me a little is that I might absolutely love the overdye 12 months later or I might hate it. No way of knowing really. I have asked Andy about this, will see what he says.

If I'm honest I just love the way that the overdye looks. Something about it catches my eye. But, I'm only looking at the brand new photos. That makes it more risky, because it could turn out either way.

The knit I'll choose is the darkest possible brown, with medium brown thread and dull orange lining.

This combo looks pretty good to me, although this is an Aero and not a BK. I'll go for something like that colour knit, if not darker.

All I do these days is look at photos of jackets to try make up my mind, and curse that photography can be so misleading when it comes to colours!
 

Brettafett

Well-Known Member
Heres a quick look.
I still have some of BKs samples. Here are two of my BK Seal Liberty Dubows, compared with the Dark Seal Liberty.
Seal Liberty horsehide, darker WW2 brown knit left, mid brown right. Dark Seal Liberty to compare.
P1260554.JPGP1260555.JPG
Close up of Seal liberty, darker WW2 brown knit and Dark Seal sample on top, with medium brown thread.
P1260556.JPG
Colours vary to lighting, but are relatively accurate and representative.
 

MrBlue

Member
Thanks! This is really, really helpful. Putting the dark seal against the seal like that makes it obvious how much darker it is.

So, would you agree that it is close to black without actually being black?

I would definitely want the darker brown knit, if not, possibly darker than that.

Also, something occurred to me. If I buy the seal -> dark seal overdye, being the OCD person that I am, whenever I sit down I am going to be thinking about the dye from my jacket rubbing off onto the chair that I'm sitting on.
 

Brettafett

Well-Known Member
I would not say its near black, just a lot darker shade of brown. Natural vs photographic lighting is very tricky.
That WW2 Brown knit is darkest BK do - assume you've looked here - https://billkelsomfg.com/shop/materials/

I have not seen or handled this BK re-dye, so can't say for sure. I don't know anyone on the forums talking about this either.

ELC's re-dyed jacket surely do not do that, at least from what Ive seen. Having said that, I did have one std ELC RW27752, where the area around the collar seemed 'wet'... the finish or dye had not cured or something, because it did come off. Even stained my neck a bit and the shirt I was wearing. Only this area, nowhere else... I sent this jacket back. But this was circa late 2000s, so a while ago.
 

MrBlue

Member
Would the hot water treatment affect the colour?

I've been looking at photos of Skip's Liberty Dark Seal ANJ-3 vs other Liberty Dark Seal jackets, and it looks so different. But then I read that he not only used the hot water treatment on it, but also sanded it. Would either of those treatments affect the colour of it?

Just trying to predict in my head how it would look. Russett and seal have a fairly consistent look, but dark seal seems to vary widely.
 

Nickb123

Well-Known Member
Would the hot water treatment affect the colour?

I've been looking at photos of Skip's Liberty Dark Seal ANJ-3 vs other Liberty Dark Seal jackets, and it looks so different. But then I read that he not only used the hot water treatment on it, but also sanded it. Would either of those treatments affect the colour of it?

Just trying to predict in my head how it would look. Russett and seal have a fairly consistent look, but dark seal seems to vary widely.
Skip's is Victory hh iirc.
 
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