Five Star Leather vs Johnson Leather for Custom Jackets

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

  1. dannyk

    dannyk One Too Many

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    1,270
    I think you’re absolutely right about the risk factor. But I also think not many people would just stumble upon them, or know how to order a completely custom jacket; unless they are people like us. The average Joe looking for a leather jacket I doubt would ever find them. Then if they did would most likely just order a stock jacket. I think you kind of have to be like one of us to even attempt to go down that road.
     
    roadking04, navetsea and Edward like this.
  2. Monitor

    Monitor

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    12,365
    I think it's a pretty crap keep by any standards. Living costs where I am aren't that far off from US or UK. Not London or New York of course but the rest of the UK, for instance, is pretty much there. I know Ireland is cheaper because half of my country went to work & live there, without any intention to ever return.
    I know an awesome UK couple that's been living here for 10 years and are now moving back to England because they say it would cost them the same with an added bonus of being at home.
    With 3.50 an hour, I couldn't survive either which is why I gotta do tons of stuff on a side, knowing full well that it could all crumble at any moment and I'm on a street digging thru garbage bins.
    But that's all my fault - or my choice, if you will - nobody else is to be blamed. I made a ton of poor decisions in my life with the other half being just crap luck. Having hobbies and trying to live a life that isn't akin to surviving often doesn't come easy but I'd rather be dead than live like that. But it's depressing and sad nonetheless. Oh well.
     
    Imuricecreamman and dannyk like this.
  3. TheDonEffect

    TheDonEffect One of the Regulars

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    All correct, the business that employees the seamstress needs to turn a profit on that labor. Bringing your own leather only complicates it because they're losing profit on the materials, so net profit for that job gets reduced. Think of a corkage fee or cake fee at a restaurant.

    Hh121 mentioned that with 5* you talk to the person making your jacket directly, and pointed out not a "salesman", don't know if a negative connotation was intended but nonetheless it seems that may not be the case with 5*, seems that you are speaking with a consultant/manager/etc who then delegates the job to workers. So, no perceived advantage again there.




    I was largely for the sake of this discussion avoiding discussing the logistical challenges because it goes into hypotheticals. I've been operating under the best case scenario premise to give 5* the benefit of the doubt that they are comparable, read: able to be compared with, JL and therefore Aero, Vanson, etc.

    But you are totally right, the buyer assumes all the risk and responsibility, 5* just needs to execute the specs on paper and ensure it gets to you. Which is fine for some for a sub 400 jacket, but when sending them 500 with of materials... I don't know.

    Hides are not like rolls of wool fabric, they're all different with their own challenges. If you're cutting a large panel, like a split or whole back panel, finding the right area can be a challenge. Factor in sending creased pull up leather, needing to match labels which people have said 5* does a reasonable job at, for a sub 400 jacket, critical connotation intended.

    I forgot which maker it was that said they're no longer making jackets out of natural or light to medium brown, because they end up eating so much material to get the right match.

    With all this said, the cost savings on a bespoke jacket is 900 vs 700, give it take. These are not apples to apples comparison. JL is an established brand with a good reputation that commands their price, 5* is an emerging brand with a good reputation for the price. JL offers in person consultation and tailoring, a fit jacket, really will go out of their way to ensure fit. They source alot of the leathers that command the higher price that when 5* is tasked to use, the price gap immediately shrinks from 500-600 to 200-300. As such, the matching and quality of material is on JL, with 5* it's on you, as are the measurements and how that translates to design.

    And there is something to be said about supporting your local economy. Me, I prioritize supporting good businesses despite location, but all things equal, I prefer to support local.

    Then there's the intangibles, I personally like knowing I have a JL jacket as my only leather jackets, that they're in my backyard, that when people ask where I got it from i can point them to JL.

    If I'm being transparent, this discussion I've engaged in largely with Hh121 I've already thought out before I bought my first jacket with the "inferior" naked cow hide. I like a good bargain, but I don't plan to buy a collection of jackets. At the time I just wanted one good one. My research led me to these boards, allot of other articles, talking with people. I did a deep dive into buying one with independence brothers, who at the time was similar to 5* today. That research led me to learn the costs of making a jacket. I mentioned my buddy who has family in Mexico in a town of leathers artisans. I did the math, ran the equation by controlling the variables, at the end I wound up with JL.

    When you really compare apples to apples, you'll realize that the cost difference is not as large as once perceived. It's why I compare 5* to mall jackets, because brands like aero start with hides like horween CXL or comparable. JLs core business for a while was making functional jackets for work or motorcycle, their inventory for a long time reflected that. CHPs, cross zips, etc, in heavy cowhides/hh, but they stock other hides like lamb and goat for the fashion minded San Francisco clientele. I believe they're evolving for current market trends.

    Take my jacket, Hh121 was right to point out there are better hides out there, and used that as a critical point against JL. But really no other objective criticism. For starters I didn't pay aero prices for my jacket, and I chose the leather from literally dozens of choices that would probably represent JL better. Brands like aero protect their image by controlling the style, fit, and materials. If it's going to have their name on it it will be their way or no way. It's why it's getting harder and harder to find established makers to do what JL does. From a business cost alone, it's easier to just adhere to and sell a templated product. It's akin to going to a restaurant and ordering of menus because hey I supplied the ingredients and they're cooks right? But who takes the blame for not meeting expectations? How much more effort goes into making that one meal vs just saying no and servicing people who order from the menu with minor adjustments?

    In summary, comparing apples to apples, your looking at about 200 difference, with all the aforementioned differences, supplying your own leather, assuming the risk and responsibility, etc etc.
     
    Monitor, Jin431, navetsea and 3 others like this.
  4. TheDonEffect

    TheDonEffect One of the Regulars

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    130
    Btw, not that my feelings are hurt or anything, but that's why I didn't post my jacket because I know it's nothing interesting. I like to say I got ahead of the trend of a minimalist cross zip and just wanted a hearty leather. I didn't want my design choices to reflect on JL.

    I am sad though that everyone missed my dad joke about not being offended regarding criticisms about my 3oz cowhide because you can say I have a thick skin... But then I remembered this is a forum where 3oz is like a middle weight lol.
     
    Claybertrand likes this.
  5. Claybertrand

    Claybertrand A-List Customer

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    435
    Dude, I got that joke. Total Dad Joke. I'm a fan and practitioner of low grade humor myself. Nice one. ;)
     
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  6. TheDonEffect

    TheDonEffect One of the Regulars

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    130
    In San Francisco, the poverty household income line is 101k/year, loosely translates to about 25/hr per household adult.

    Our homeless situation is very indicative of this.

    I dont want to pry into your life situation, but man in alot of ways I feel you brother. Around here, you can't buy a house for less than 700k. That's literally 10x the median income for the area. You do everything right, and still come up dramatically short
     
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  7. TheDonEffect

    TheDonEffect One of the Regulars

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    130
    Gotta laugh where we can, it holds back the tears.
     
    Claybertrand likes this.
  8. El Marro

    El Marro Call Me a Cab

    Messages:
    2,497
    Location:
    California
    Thank you Hh121! I just purchased (2) Crown main zippers and (4) Crown pocket zippers. I’m talking to Damon at JL about using them on one of their slim crosszips in the Horween Overdye.
     
    Jin431, roadking04 and Hh121 like this.
  9. Marc mndt

    Marc mndt One Too Many

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    1,675
    Here in the Netherlands average yearly income is €37k. Compared to the USA, that looks rather poor. But keep in mind that health insurance costs next to nothing and covers all costs. People get 5 weeks of paid leave a year, we have 36 hour working weeks, when you call in sick you get paid anyway etc etc.
    Comparing one economical system to another goes beyond comparing hourly / yearly wages.
     
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  10. navetsea

    navetsea I'll Lock Up

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    4,439
    Location:
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    I think the biggest + with 5* is they basically put you as the pilot in design and fit wise at such price point, but once you supply your own material that has to be sent from faraway source, then you pile up huge risk both to yourself and this company if they dont have spare material to fix problems unless you calculate extra hide from the start, give them extra hardware just as backup you can ask them to send the leftover back with the finished jacket.
    I think it is still a very interesting opportunity but just tackle all these potential risk up front.
     
    Hh121 likes this.
  11. Hh121

    Hh121 Call Me a Cab

    Messages:
    2,385
    I agree, but my theory is you have to try to know the result. I plan to use some premier leather from S.B.Foot, the leather Red Wing use, cheap price but great quality, there is a possibility that I can control the total expense under $360.
     
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  12. TheDonEffect

    TheDonEffect One of the Regulars

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    130
    Yup, absolutely. But also keep in mind that the average US income is heavily lifted by a handful of cities, the remainder of the country is alot lower.

    Btw, Amsterdam was one of the most beautiful cities I've ever been to, so photogenic and just wonderful people.
     
    Marc mndt likes this.
  13. dudewuttheheck

    dudewuttheheck Call Me a Cab

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    Wait... Five* jackets are made in Pakistan?
     
  14. TheDonEffect

    TheDonEffect One of the Regulars

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    130
    I think 5* presents a unique opportunity to have access to a leather artisan from Pakistan in your back pocket to try stuff out. But seems like no one is willing them to send them big name leather, at which case the cost will be a lot closer between the two companies.
     
  15. TheDonEffect

    TheDonEffect One of the Regulars

    Messages:
    130
    Yes.
     
  16. dudewuttheheck

    dudewuttheheck Call Me a Cab

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    2,472
    Oof. Do we know about the ethics of the factory they use? There are a LOT of issues with factories in Pakistan. I wouldn't buy Five * regardless of price without knowing that.
     
  17. TheDonEffect

    TheDonEffect One of the Regulars

    Messages:
    130

    A valid point to raise, but a point I was trying to avoid by clumsily dancing around by highlighting the $20 labor cost, shopping local, made in US, etc. I didn't want to derail this into a political discussion. Just trying to keep this discussion as much about the products and objective points and not all the other stuff because that becomes a slippery slope. But, a valid point nonetheless.

    So for the sake of this discussion I'm going to assume the jacket isn't being made in a sweatshop with people chained to sewing machines. But I think we can say that Shawn isn't making the jacket and that you're not talking to the person who is making the jacket.

    And with all that said, I don't think that $20 is their labor cost.

    https://www.thefedoralounge.com/threads/five-star-leather-jackets.101762/page-20

    Note that Shawn charged $20 or $30 for each (two) change made by the toomanyhats for just the collar...
     
  18. dudewuttheheck

    dudewuttheheck Call Me a Cab

    Messages:
    2,472
    Fair enough, I will not bring that up in this specific thread further.

    Otherwise, I have no experience with either maker and will say that I have found this thread to be a great read.
     
    El Marro and TheDonEffect like this.
  19. MrProper

    MrProper Practically Family

    Messages:
    810
    I don't know how fair Shawn's production is done, but he once wrote to me that he also works as a social worker and, together with others, cares for the less well off. had also got some pictures. Of course, provided that this is true, I can hardly imagine that someone who is personally socially committed then chains his employees to the sewing machine.
     
    ton312 likes this.
  20. Seb Lucas

    Seb Lucas I'll Lock Up

    Messages:
    7,433
    Location:
    Australia
    As you know even if the jackets cost less that $20 in labour that doesn't mean we are dealing with a shocking moral crime. It can be an insular Western assumption that anything made in Pakistan (or wherever non-Western location) necessitates exploitation and other rebarbative practices.
     
    navetsea, JMax, TheDonEffect and 5 others like this.

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