August 25, 2015

The Whiskey Leather Moto Jacket - The Old & The New

The inspiration for this week’s upcoming Moto Collection is a particularly beautiful whiskey-brown vintage café-racer-style leather jacket. Over 40-years-old, it is worn in like a baseball mitt and fits like a glove too. The jacket was brought to us by our product designer Nick and was purchased by his father Albert in 1973.

As the story goes, Albert was in Boston on long leave from his stationed post on a nuclear sub in Connecticut. His three friends, also on leave, had plans to drive to Texas by way of Florida; Albert was more than ready to make the trek on his new Kawasaki Z1. With backlogged pay burning a hole in his pocket, Albert wandered into Walter Dyer Leather, a gentlemen’s leather outfitter in Framingham, Massachusetts.

He’d been on the lookout for a brown leather café-style jacket for a very long time—of course, black ones were a dime a dozen and all you could possibly find. Lo’ and behold, in the window of Walter Dyer was this handsome, well-fitting whiskey brown leather jacket.

Turns out, the jacket was made right around the corner from our office at Golden Bear.

Forty-two years later the same jacket came into our office with Nick; to say the least, it blew each and every one of us away. Before that moment, none of us thought there existed a leather jacket we would ever want; after that moment, we all knew that this was the only leather jacket we would ever want. With quite a bit of persistence and digging, Nick was able to find the original manufacturer of the jacket—turns out, the jacket was made right around the corner from our office at Golden Bear, a famous San Francisco outwear manufacturer that has been in business since the 1920s.

We took the jacket into Golden Bear and Schirley, the owner, instantly recognized it: “Wow, this is an old one —we made it for a small men’s shop outside of Boston.” She went riffling through rows of manila folders and pulled out the exact leather swatch with great pride. She then dipped into the Golden Bear's back production area, arriving ten minutes later with the original hard pattern on a hanger.

We talked through the piece with her while she recalled her reasoning for every detail on the jacket. All of us marveled at how well it had worn over time. We then discussed how we could reinforce some of the more worn areas to make it even better.

The first sample fit like a dream. The whiskey leather, straight from the tannery, was really unlike any shade we have ever seen—beautiful, buttery soft and comfortable right from the first fitting. With our inspiration in hand, we called up our friend James Crowe of Crowe Metal Co. and discussed some other pieces that would really compliment this jacket well. We can’t wait to show you the rest…