Five Star Leather vs Johnson Leather for Custom Jackets

Discussion in 'Outerwear' started by jonbuilder, Nov 23, 2020.

  1. jonbuilder

    jonbuilder Call Me a Cab

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    Has anyone compare working with both Five Star and Johnson Leather to have them make a custom-designed jacket. The overall experience, leather selections, detailing, hardware, fitting, pattern wearability.
     
  2. ton312

    ton312

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    I’ve had both Jon. Please understand that with 5 star you are limited in the choice of hardware, leather and liners. There is a fairly significant price differential between the two and it’s reflected in the limitations listed above.

    As far as fit and wearability goes I think both are good but I have been able to spec literally every single detail with 5 Star. I did not do that with JL when I ordered my copy of your Levi’s jacket.
    Bottom line is this, with JL you are likely going to pay 4 or 5 times what you would with 5 Star. You will also have 100x more options for materials with JL. Honestly I have a hard time comparing the two. I don’t know where JL’s prices are right now but my jacket in 2016 cost $1.3K. A fair bit more than what I had expected as folks around here at the time were saying the average cost was around $600.

    It ultimately depends what is most important to you in terms of the build. Material advantage goes 100% to JL.
     
  3. red devil

    red devil Call Me a Cab

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    I have had a full custom from JL and one on order from Five star. I can't comment on the workmanship of five star as I don't have the jacket yet, but I wouldn't even compare them.

    With Johnson leather, a full custom entails a mock-up and a guaranteed fitting jacket at the end. They are experienced and they will take care of the details.

    With Five stars, you have to do the full work, go painstakingly after every measurements, details etc.... and if you miss something, the result might not be what you would have wanted.

    It is like comparing a fully catered reception with butlers to a bring your own food party... different beasts.

    I ordered from Five Star knowing it is a gamble, but I have maximised my chances by seeking advice here.

    Edit: typo and it is fun to go to both events in any case, variety is the spice of life :)
     
  4. Edward

    Edward Bartender

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    21,590
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    Sounds like comparing Ikea to Parker Knowles. If you have the skillset to put it together and are selective with what you buy, Ikea is a fantastic way to get some truly superb furniture. You do have to be aware that not *everything* they produce is "last a lifetime" - you have to be selective, do your own legwork, and accept that there may be certain limitations in the range of colour options and such....

    I can't comment on working with either, but I do have a Johnson I bought used some years ago; if that jacket is typical of their product, I would rate them highly.
     
  5. Jin431

    Jin431 One Too Many

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    Bay Area CA
    I've had a 5* trucker made and going on 3 custom JL now. So I'm familiar with them both too. Both companies are responsive and easy to deal with.

    I ordered a seal goatskin trucker which is well made but the buttons they used were not up to par so I had to replace those right away. The panels on my jacket have different thickness too. The 5* company is getting better and better construction wise but the hide option is limited, you also have to be very detailed with all your specs/measurement which is not a bad thing since they will make that for you. Wait time is basically nothing.

    JL has a lot more variety of hides available (deer/bison/horse/cow/goat/sheep/suede to name a few that I know of and handled while visiting the store) from different tanneries with different weight/tannage and if they don't have what you want then they can source them for you if it is accessible to them. They also offer skiving/splitting the leather if you want to have a lighter weight jacket. For hardware they prefer to use YKK but also offer repro talon zippers. You live local too so it's convenient to visit the store to get a proper fitting with a mock up jacket or they can send it to you too if you prefer it that way. Wait time is about 6-10 weeks. My new cxl jacket needs to be tapered more and they offer to fix that when I come visit their store again.
     
    Last edited: Nov 23, 2020
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  6. TheDonEffect

    TheDonEffect One of the Regulars

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    179
    I don't have direct experience with 5 star, from my research they look like they build a solid jacket, comma, for the price, which is not to be a detractor. Their build quality appears to be solid, and better than their prices seem to reflect, especially when you consider their price point rivals mall jackets. I have no reason to believe that it won't last as long as I need it to.

    But putting them side by side by the beloved stalwarts on these forums seem to then show the contrast between the two, but again nothing I'd hold against them at all. I get the feeling that they are in their beta stages, fine tuning their processes, looks, offering, etc, grow their business to then be able to go toe to toe with the big dogs. As such, the costs are dramatically saved by offering a limited selection of materials, probably bought in bulk, in order to maintain their aggressive pricing.

    They also benefit, like many of the Scot brands, of doing everything online, so no need to spend time with a customer in person, and alot of the risk is shouldered by the consumer. Their customer service seems to be top notch, I'd go as far as to say that it seems to be better than the Scot brands. But alot of the responsibility falls on you to visualize, measure, and know what you want.

    JL is like going to a tailor to have a suit made. Every last detail can be speced, materials, details, everything. When you go the full custom route, you even get a mock up fit jacket, and then of course your jacket which they will go to great lengths to ensure your satisfaction. And the build quality requires for apologies.

    So you're able to see and touch the materials, see a store full of made jackets, a professional walking you through it all, it's just easier to visualize and get immediate input. No apologies will need to be made about their product, they produce a great and consistent product, and they guarantee it.

    If you're fortunate to be local, visiting them is also great, just nice to meet the people, see the products, go through the whole process.

    Also, another thing to consider is that they have an option to do a semi-custom piece, sorta like what the Scot brands do in that you can choose one of their stock styles, and then make some changes including choosing the leather, getting a personal fit, and imo this is where they have fantastic value, but also why you hear people saying their jackets can be 650-1500. So if you choose a style that they stock, but want to make some changes, choose the leather, and get some alterations to your body, you're going to get a made to order jacket but for an altered stock piece price.

    For me, in the end, I had the same choice, I went JL. I'm already spending a ton of money, why not spend a little more. The reputation, the consistent build quality, and the experience is totally worth it.
     
  7. jonbuilder

    jonbuilder Call Me a Cab

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    2015 I paid about $825 with tax for my Levi speedway jacket at JL I do not understand why you were charged more. I was a walk-in and had been aking vintage jackets to Alan for years for repairs. No shipping costs.
     
    Last edited: Nov 23, 2020
  8. jonbuilder

    jonbuilder Call Me a Cab

    Messages:
    2,232
    Location:
    Redwood City, CA
    Thank you all, your replies confirm what I been thinking. I going to stop buying deal jackets that I come across just to scratch an itch to experience a jacket and work on a new design with Johnson Leathers. I notice their prices and I am sure their costs have been going up, but I think If they get a project that interests them they may work on costs. And like I told Alan when I saw him his year, I will never sell the speedway jacket he made me.
     
  9. TheDonEffect

    TheDonEffect One of the Regulars

    Messages:
    179

    Yeah, I think you nailed it. I got advice a while ago about buying stuff. You can choose buy alot with a little, or buy a little with alot. Go talk with them, I'm a pretty spend thrifty guy myself, I'm sure they can build something to an acceptable price. Having done all my research on all the different brands, considering what they do and the product they produce, and especially considering where they're producing it, their prices imo are very reasonable. I think at the end of the day, you'll be spending twice of what you spend at Five Star for a similar style jacket. However, you will have options for things like pull up, teacore, veg vs chrome, and a myriad of other options as well, which in summation will equate to a more premium feeling end product.

    JL vs Five Star may at first seem expensive, but when you really compare apples to apples, you realize the difference really isn't that big of a difference. I'm positive that JL can produce jackets for similar money to Five Star, IF they adopted the same business model and standards. I learned recently the price of a CXL hide for example vs alot of other no name (perfectly good) leathers for instance. But with increased price even if it is just for the material, comes increased expectations, suddenly that price gap shrinks. I equate it to like pouring a bud light into a plastic red cup, but the pliney the younger better be in a frosted mug. And that's even before we even get into the nitty gritty of imperceivable differences in build quality, buying experience, etc.
     
  10. ton312

    ton312

    Messages:
    11,550
    Location:
    Chicago
    I’ll only add that I’ve spent over the cost of a new Aero or JL and received what I perceive to be (3 soon to be 4) very good jackets. So one could say it’s 4:1. While my custom JL surpassed all three five stars in terms of material quality, it was not stitched together any better, actually it was noticeably worse. But tbh that’s not something I care all that much about anyway.

    I’ve owned quite a few jackets. I don’t think 5 star can truly compete with the “high” level (price) makers here strictly because the material playing field is not level. That’s why I find the comparison to be a non starter. You will spend four times what you would spend at 5 Star, not two. Having owned three or four JL’s ask me if they are four times better...you might not like what I have to say.

    To my knowledge JL will not do a one off pattern for $660, which is what two MTM 5* will set you back. I think both makers do a great job at what they do. I still patronize my favorite makers and always will. But in my wardrobe there is plenty of room for both. I will say this too, and it’s an odd thing: I’m almost always somewhat disappointed with my more expensive jackets. With 5 Star I’ve had the opposite experience of being pleasantly surprised.
     
  11. Hh121

    Hh121 Call Me a Cab

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    I would say go to FL because you will have a conversation with the person who actually making your jacket, not a salesman.
     
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  12. El Marro

    El Marro Call Me a Cab

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    I think their prices are quite reasonable to begin with when compared to many of the top makers around here.
     
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  13. ton312

    ton312

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    11,550
    Location:
    Chicago
    I think that’s ultimately what’s made me go over the top with 5 Star. I can exchange ideas and fit notes in the drawing stages of the jacket being made. I’ve not had that liberty in the past. I do have one really unique crosszip I’d like to have built. At this point I just need to gather the materials and send them to Shawn.
     
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  14. ton312

    ton312

    Messages:
    11,550
    Location:
    Chicago
    I’ve often wondered how JL prices their stuff. My jacket was based off an existing pattern and at the time cost about $300 more than an Aero. With no change off “stock” other than sleeve and body length...and it cost me $500 more than the same jacket, made one year prior, in the same hide.
     
    Last edited: Nov 23, 2020
  15. Hh121

    Hh121 Call Me a Cab

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    you might want to purchase some second run Horween cxl and send to 5 star, the results gonna be amazing.
     
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  16. ton312

    ton312

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    11,550
    Location:
    Chicago
    Was thinking that same thing. Something a bit more gnarly and with more imperfections. Would be a good test to see what they can do with that type of hide. I don’t know what their in house HH is like but I suspect it’s far thinner.
     
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  17. El Marro

    El Marro Call Me a Cab

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    That would annoy me, as I’m sure it does you. Not because the jacket isn’t worth $1300.00 but because jonbuilder was charged so much less only a year earlier.
     
  18. ton312

    ton312

    Messages:
    11,550
    Location:
    Chicago
    Well in all fairness there was more too it than that. I mean I had no idea what Jon paid at the time. More significantly, the end product was markedly different. My jacket had a waist band and zippered hand warmers, neither of which were requested or wanted. In the end it was still a very nice piece. Very well made, and JL trimmed the stove pipe sleeves free of charge so it all worked out fairly in the end. But that initial disappointment never left. I could have made a stink about it at the time (and probably should have) but I didn’t. I’m certainly a different customer now.
     
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  19. Jin431

    Jin431 One Too Many

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    1,540
    Location:
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    I don't know how they charge but for reference the goatskin jacket they made for me totaled to $700 w/ taxes & fit jacket, $900 for cxl w/taxes& fit jacket, $950 for the veg tanned HH w/ taxes and no fit jacket.
     
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  20. Hh121

    Hh121 Call Me a Cab

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    horween retail price for cxl premier run is around $250 for every 20 sqft, 40 sqft should be enough for a jacket, and that's the retail price not wholesale.
     

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