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Distressing (or scuffing...)


New in Town
New York, NY
I appreciate the history implicit in scuffing and wear patterns--certainly a historical WWII jacket that shows a lot of old wear speaks volumes about the hardship endured by the original wearer. The same could be said for coins or weapons or denim miner's overalls.

However, I don't like new coats or jackets that are "distressed." Or jeans for that matter. Nor do I really appreciate deterioration (that "broken-in look") of outerwear.

I seem to be a contrarian in this matter...uh-oh...

It doesn't have to be pristine its entire life, but any opinions on what leather/ finish looks newest longest?


Rick Blaine

My Mail is Forwarded Here
Saskatoon, SK CANADA

Goat seems to look newsest longest, tough as nails, not only can you not wear it out you can't even break it in!

... my .02

Welcome to The Lounge, BTW. It's a great group. By way of idle curiosity (& nosiness) where in Manhattan do you live, Longshanks?


New in Town
New York, NY
Rick Blaine said:

Welcome to The Lounge, BTW. It's a great group.

By way of idle curiosity (& nosiness) where in Manhattan do you live, Longshanks?

It *is* a great group--and truly informative...
I'm in the yupper east side of Manhattan.

James Miller

One of the Regulars
Go for the Goat!

Goat would be your best bet. Goat is lighter weight but very strong and doesn't show signs of destress. Horsehide would be your strongest Hide then Steerhide however they will show some signs of wear depending on how much they are worn.

Mike K.

One Too Many
Southwest Florida
It also depends on how the leather is finished. Just look at all the different varieties of horsehide offered by Aero Leather of Scotland. The standard spray-dyed finish takes longer to wear than the oil-pull finishes. A lot of how fast a jacket will wear-in depends on the type and heaviness of the dye coat and the thickness of the lacquer/topcoat (if any). A flight jacket from Gibson & Barnes, with a very heavy spray-dye and lacquer finish, takes exactly forever plus two days to wear in (and even then it still looks just a few weeks old).


Southeastern U.S.
I'm with you, Longshanks. I'll distress the jacket myself, thank you very much. New products that are distressed are done so by mechanized processes and do not look like human-worn garments. Those that are really broken in naturally are interesting to look at, but I wouldn't want to wear one unless it meant something personal to me, like a friend or relative who'd worn it in battle.

As for type of leather, there are many variables there including the type of hide, the age and condition of the animal, how carefully it was skinned, and so forth. In addition, the many phases of the tanning process adds more variables. Further, the way the jacket is constructed, styled, sewn together, and lined affect the overall appearance and durability and thus "distressability." Finally, there is much subjectivity in what is best.

I have a flight style jacket I got at Banana Republic over 15 years ago that I love. Your basic style with two flap-over snap pockets on the front with separate zip-close handwarmer pockets slashing across the front of those. One snap-close inside breast pocket. Heavy brass zipper up the front with a storm flap secured with a snap at the neck and another at the bottom. No epaulettes or snaps on the collar tips, which I would have liked, but the gussets on the back of the arms for freedom of movement turned out to be much more beneficial than I thought at first.

It's made of very thick goatskin leather dyed dark brown that's smooth but not slick and shiny and is tough yet very pliable. It's lined with silk acetate with Thinsulate beneath. I liked those features as well as the fact that the stretch around the waistband is covered in leather instead of being of wool, which tends to pill and wear long before the rest of the rest of a typical flight jacket. And instead of stretch wool at the wrists, it has snap-close cuffs.

Sombitch weighs 6 lbs, but next to my down parka, it's the warmest coat I've ever owned. I worked at a plant in northern Indiana where we had to keep the doors wide open due to the fumes from our LPG fork trucks, and even on days where the temp never broke 10 degrees F, with a flannel shirt and wool sweater beneath, I had to keep that jacket zipped 2/3 the way down to keep from getting overheated! I'm not sure, but I think the ability of goatskin to remain warm AND pliable in the very cold temps of unpressurized airplane cabins at high altitudes were the main reasons it was selected as the leather of choice for pilots in The War.

Distressed? Barely. Just a little wear on the elbows and around the cuffs. I like the creases and folds that have molded to my body over the years. To my eye, it looks better now than it did when brand new. On the inside, the lining separated in a few places, but Banana Republic repaired it free of charge five years after I bought it. It's begun to separate again, but is a long way from turning loose, and all the Thinsulate beneath is perfectly intact. The problem is that the leather is so thick and rugged compared to the lining.

This is a the long way to tell you I recommend a flight jacket in a thick goatskin that has been tanned so that it's pliable right off the rack. In the same way that it's pretty much never going to wear out, it's also not going to break in much at all, so make sure the leather is flexible enough from the get-go for your taste and comfort.

dr greg

One Too Many
distress signal

There are three types of people in the world, those who buy something new and wear it til it is worn in, and those who hunt around and get vintage clothes that have the patina, on the other side of a large divide are those who buy stressed jackets, acid-wash jeans and all the othe fake quick-fix looks that abound. Never the twain shall meet, and the divisions are usually for life.

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