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Distressing a leather jacket

Discussion in 'Outerwear' started by DarkKnight, Nov 9, 2017.

  1. Hey everyone!

    So I know there are definitely two camps on here when it comes to jacket treatment; one camp (and probably the bigger camp based on my reading) would never even consider aiding in the ageing of a leather jacket or deliberately advancing its worn and torn appearance. The other camp MAY have some ideas and info.

    Now I want to be very clear because a google search usually brings up results on how to make your jacket a post-apocalyptic costume - that is NOT what I'm asking about. I'm asking about how a mere consumer/jacket enthusiast who likes to buy custom-made jackets from the best makers, can potentially get their jackets looking amazingly distressed like a RRL or an LVC jacket might do. I had this jacket (which I've just given to my dad because it didn't fit me well enough in the way that I like) from RRL and it's distressing is gorgeous!


    And it's a brand new jacket! The few times I wore it I got compliments every time. I don't want to wait 30 years for it to look that amazing. And brands like RRL prove you technically don't have to. But how the hell do they do it?! How come there's no info about the processes that these brands use to age their garments? I know a bit about sandblasting. But surely there are workers out there who are responsible for distressing these jackets that would be willing to divulge the secrets.

    Obviously I've done the usual things that get recommended for accelerating the breaking in like wearing it wet, dabbling with different leather balms and moisturising treatments adn even testing out small areas with fine sandpaper. These things can definitely help soften up a jacket and help it shape to you, but there's not much reliable info out there on how to get it looking like the above jacket - with areas of lightness and darkness etc. in a realistic way.

    Just thought I'd ask TFL about this as there are likely more learned people than me on here who have experimented and researched.
  2. Alz

    Alz Familiar Face

    These guys know how to
    DarkKnight likes this.
  3. I'd still say just wear it and beat it up. You won't be able to recreate natural wear any other way. Just treat it very roughly.
    Joao Encarnado likes this.
  4. Seb Lucas

    Seb Lucas I'll Lock Up

    It's not very difficult to explain. Some leathers are treated to have a pre-worn appearance. It's done through the tanning/dyeing process and sometimes through washing and drying with abrasives before the leather is made into a jacket. It always looks fake and jarring to my eye.

    I don't think there is a camp here such as you might find on COW, where Indy Jones fans do all kinds of things to make their Indy jacket look old and like the film worn version. I have never seen it look real, just less fake. It's done by soaking the jacket, creasing it, sanding it, scraping it and using acetone and steel wool to fade the dye and make it look "worn". Just like they do for the movies.

    Outside of Cosplay fake wear on a leather jacket is like spray on mud on the duco of a city driven of 4x4.

    In the 1980's lots of leather jackets had fake wear hide or pre-distressed hide. It smacks of that grubby decade to my eye.

    Nevertheless, I personally hate the look and feel of a brand new jacket myself and tend to wash mine in the machine with detergent to break it in. They still look new ish after this but are much more comfortable with the shine knocked off. I have done this to many jackets with no ill effects.

    Aero leathers can give you a nice mottled pre-worn hide called battered horse or steer. I still think it looks a bit deliberate but it is probably the best option.

    See here:

    El Marro, Guppy and Peacoat like this.
  5. I dunno guys, I've seen some VERY convincing and nicely aged jackets from brands like I mentioned, Ralph Lauren and LVC. I too have an eye for fake looking stuff and that's all I usually see when I search for info on this topic; people trying to age their Indy jackets. But the above example I linked is a good one; a really authentic looking jacket. It's faded so well and the seams are left dark in such a convincing manner - there have to be some secret methods to getting that on a semi-consistent basis. I'm definitely not talking about the pre-aged leather BEFORE it's been made into a jacket. I know I'm newish to the lounge, but I'm not new to being fashion conscious.
    Alz likes this.
  6. I actually had my first bike accident whilst wearing my Aero Board Racer last week. I'm ok - bit banged up - but my jacket got some authentically earned scrapes on it, that's for sure.
    TREEMAN likes this.
  7. Woodyear

    Woodyear Familiar Face

    Thedi leathers has some nice pre distressing. Someone just posted a thread with a new Thedi in tan buffalo and the aging looks immaculate, the leather is burnished and dark along all the high spots and wear areas and lighter underneath. It looks as if someone took a burnishing tool such as a deer bone and burnished it all by hand, but I’m not sure of the exact process and that would be very time consuming. Very convincing looking though.
    ButteMT61 likes this.
  8. nick123

    nick123 I'll Lock Up

    That is a tragedy.
    navetsea likes this.
  9. navetsea

    navetsea One Too Many

    wear it in the sun, UV will age it good. occasional washing machine is fine too in my book, but hell never the sandpaper or airbrush gun... those are fakeass costume territory... sometime Japan can be so fake.
  10. Mark Ricketts

    Mark Ricketts One of the Regulars

    Stay away from any fakery and keep it natural. Simply wear the jacket for a week doing outside manual labour. It doesn't matter if it's digging holes, cutting wood, farmwork or gardening. If it's hot. sweaty and dirty the coat will quickly look aged.
    Guppy likes this.
  11. Carlos840

    Carlos840 One Too Many

    The way he rolls and presses the leather in the beginning of the video is what i have been doing to every new jacket i get, it really speeds things up a lot!
    Getting it humid with a spray bottle first is even better.
    Alz likes this.
  12. In all honesty, I like a nicely broken in jacket as much as the next guy, but I've never hasd a problem getting that to happen naturally. Seriously..... just wear the damn thing.
  13. Sloan1874

    Sloan1874 I'll Lock Up

    I've come across a few LVCs that are made from leather which has a very 'loose' top coat, which meant it begins to age almost the moment you give it any serious wear. If you give an Aero a decent wear, it will start ageing very quickly. I seem to remember Rocketeer telling me that when he got his first A2 from Aero, back in the mists of time, he asked Ken to help him age it - this involved Rocketeer crossing his arms across his chest and Ken rubbing some sandpaper judiciously over the creases! Not something I'd try, tbh, but it's a way of doing it...
    DarkKnight and Edward like this.
  14. Guppy

    Guppy One Too Many

    Honestly, I wish my Horween CXL jackets had a more durable topcoat. Resistance to fingernail scratches, dye rubbing off on clothes, etc. are all nuisances. I want it to look 30 years old in 30 years, not two months.
  15. Of course, this is also the sort of thing that separates out the vintage leather jacket fans from those who are into the period look. A lot of guys have grown up around old bike leathers, bike shows, airshows, looking at sevety-odd year old jackets and either now they want one as an adult can't find one they can fit into, or can't find one they can fit and is in wearable condition, or if they can, they simply can't afford it..... those are the guys who tend to want an aged jacket, in my experience, becasue what they're trying to replicate is not the look of a guy in 1942 wearing a jacket he bought in 35 and wore often in the last seven years, but a jacket which is in fact seventy odd years old and has wear commensurate with having been worn hard for a long time, maybe by several people, kept in storage, perhaps gained some marks or moth nips from that..... That's a whole different aesthetic than wanting to look like you come from the period in which those designs were new. These are the guys for whom the likes of that teacore leather than looks fifty years old in a month has been designed. Reminds me of the guys who buy a Fender Relic guitar designed to look like a beat up original from 1957, with next to no paint, heavily worn, decades of abuse, because they have seen a real, original survivor like that, it looked really cool, but they can't afford it so the Relic is the next best thing. Me, I'll always be one of the guys who loved how these guitars looked when they were new in 1957, and doesn't want them to end up looking seventy years old. Storses for Courses, an aw that.
    sweetfights and Sloan1874 like this.
  16. ai00344

    ai00344 Familiar Face

    Was that the blackened brown board racer? Please tell me it’s ok!?

    TREEMAN Practically Family

    Glad your OK !! Like to see pics of it ...............
  18. Well, young Padawan, new round here you may be, but jacket-head priorities certainly you have! ;)
    Sloan1874, ai00344 and DarkKnight like this.
  19. Haha. It is indeed ok. Thanks for checking.

    I'll post some pics.
    ai00344 likes this.
  20. Big J

    Big J Call Me a Cab

    I agree with Seb. I've almost never seen a jacket artificially aged that looked authentic. Eastmans 'time worn' is probably the closest I've seen, but everything else looks like it's from the 80's (bad!) or cosplay (sexy for chicks, sad for guys).

    I agree with Edward, there is a demographic that's wants a pristine vintage look, but there's also a demographic that wants that used look off the rack.

    Just speaking for myself, part of the fun is buying a brand new jacket and then br asking it in and giving it some character as I live with it. It's a very personal thing for me. But on the other hand, I have so many jackets that none of them will ever get worn enough by me to ever look really distressed (except for my Aero Real Deal), so yeah, I occasionally think about how to speed up the process without it being 'fake'. I got no satisfactory answer for that.

    I was just saying to Edward on another thread that I started out as a cultural anthropologist. I got into that mainly because I read a lot of Phillip K. Dick stuff as a teenager. He was absolutely obsessed with the reliability of perceptions of reality (see in particular The Man in the High Castle novel discussion of the 'realness' of the fake revolver). I think this is why I'm giving GW/DD a hard time on some other thread. I feel like we have a responsibility to protect objective reality (in this era of fake news, Dick must be spinning in his grave like the top in Inception!).

    Phillip K. Dick lead to the whole mirrorshades thing, and William Gibson. Pattern Recognition is an interesting novel; it's about 'cool hunters' in Japan trying to spot the 'next big thing' but Gibson made a mistake and included a Buzz Rickson's product that didn't exist. But once he said it did, people wanted to buy it, so it came to exist. How 'real' is that? Dick would yet again have a fit I suspect.

    The video posted above is interesting. It is from Japan explaining how to get that fakevintage look. The first half is pretty much the same as the RMC method, but RMC tie and soak their jackets in a bundle.
    Monitor asked me on another thread to post RMC's picks on that, and thanks to CBI's very helpful thread on posting pics, as soon as I can find my password, I'll get the tapatalk app and post them.

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