Himel „The Imperial“ So it has arrived. Just one week in transit from Canada to my doorstep including custom clearance. Must be a record. Jacket is “The Imperial” which is basically a design from John at Good Wear leather that Himel is able to share with its customers. Specs are as follows: - Dark Brown oil-tan Shinki Horsehide - Mitchell-Camo liner - 2 inside pockets (stud-closings) - Brass Hardware - Chest: 23,5” - Shoulder: 19” - Back: 25,75” - Sleeve: 25,5” Sizing is basically following the stock sizes of a “42”, with some add-ons to Sleeves and Back. I first came across this pattern searching for an alternative to the Freewheelers “Caboose”, which I like a lot for the looks but didn’t quite trust with the sizes. I am not really sure if Himel treats The Imperial as a “regular, regular” stock item, but when I asked Eli at Himels shortly after New Year’s Day if I could have one, it was no problem whatsoever. Since I just had received my “Nipsissing Rider” jacket, I was fairly sure about sizing too. Dealing with Himel (in my case that has always been Eli) is totally easy and extremely friendly. I increasingly find that I much enjoy dealing with people who have an obvious passion and pride in what they are doing. I find that to be the case with every single of the “leather-guys” I have yet come across and Himel is no different. Now to the jacket: I don’t think I am too good with words, so I will let the pictures speak for themselves (What would be the gain in trying to explain clumsily what is plain to your collective eye…?). There is also an episode of “Himel TV” dedicated to this very jacket with tons of “deep-dive” info on pattern, origin, leather etc.). Anyway, if there is anything you would like to know – just ask. There are a few observations, I would like to share with you: The leather feels quite a bit more substantial than the black (teacore) Nipissing Rider from Himel. Dave explain on “Himel TV”, that this is due to the oils and waxes used in the coating, so this is no great revelation, but I found it noteworthy still. I quite like the heft of the jacket, as it is. Smell is really intoxicating. I don’t know if there is a specific “Shinki-aroma”, but the smell is the same as the Nipissing, only much more intense. Jacket is still only in use for three days, and when I have it with me in the same room, the aroma gets quite strong after a few hours. The look of the hide has a deep, dull shine that looks absolutely luxurious and is hard to compare with other leathers I have seen. I am positive that every single jacket in this hide would look just great, but for The Imperial being a classic sports jacket this is the perfect color, IMHO. For your “Rude-Rider” MC jacket, I would always opt for black, but the dark-brown just adds to the overall subtle “smart-casual” appearance of The Imperial. I notice that the hide marks very easily. Part of the evolution, of course and nothing that normally bothers me. Fit: Straight out of the box, my initial feeling was, “Man, is that snug”. I could zip it up without a problem, but it felt pretty tight, especially across the midsection. By now, the jacket feels just fine, which may or may not be due to some “loosening” of the leather, or simply to the fact that I am not wearing the piece with much more than a T-Shirt or a thin sports-shirt. Most important, having worn the jacket for the third day now is that I feel good in it. Sleeve- and body length is spot-on, I believe. I like to wear my jackets on the shorter side, but decided that with a non-MC-Jacket I should perhaps add an inch in the body to have the belt covered. Looking at the pictures, I believe the jacket looks just right. What else is there? I am really useless in judging artisanship, construction and the like. I need to “feel” a jacket and have never counted stitches or examined a jacket for construction defects. Obviously, a jacket as “classy” or “sophisticated” as The Imperial needs to follow a different esthetics than a very rough, heavy Horween CXL-hide jacket, and The Imperial ticks all my boxes in that respect. I could not find a flaw in jacket in terms of what is important to me personally, but I know that we are all different here. Admittedly, the price that Himel charges means that the jacket is quite an investment for me. If some of you feel that with a price like this, the expectations need to be in a different ballpark, I couldn’t disagree. It´s just that wearing the jacket, I don’t have a single regret and I have the feeling that The Imperial is good value for money even if compared to a substantially cheaper maker (I do find my Aeros are “perfect” in their own right too, but I don’t see that as a contradiction). It’s always hard to say which jacket is or becomes your ultimate favorite. Even harder to predict, which jacket gets picked for daily use most. The Imperial certainly deserves to be in both categories. So what sets it apart from my other jackets? I believe, for me it’s mostly two things: - The design/pattern: the silhouette with a slight hour-glass shape; the feisty waistband; the elegant slant of the handwarmer pocket and the other details like cuffs, collar, armcurve that all add to the notion of refined and subtle elegance. - The hide: I am a Horween guy and will be. Yet, I have come across some Japanese hides that I liked very much. The brown oil-tan shinki is something else, IMO. The outer texture, that incredible yet unobtrusive shine and that marvelous graining. Compared to Horween CXL it’s like comparing a Kobe-steak to a huge Nebraska corn-fed T-bone. It’s not that one is naturally better for every occasion, it’s just that the one of them is a really, really special and rare treat. This is the one time that I am actually a bit worried about the aging process, as I like the hide so much as it is. Thank you for bearing with me through this lengthy text. I am not entirely convinced that this review creates value for you guys, but I somehow felt like The Imperial deserves the “extra-mile”. I am sure there is lot of info that is missing, and I can only repeat that I will happily answer any queries you may have.