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Johnson Leather Jacket

TheDonEffect

Practically Family
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538
Storytime and impressions.

TL;DR: I like them alot, lol.

So when I went down this weird road into jackets, the two jackets that really captured my imagination and sent me down the rabbit hole were the Aero Maxwell and Schott Raven. Not the usual suspects, but for some reason they resonated me.

I live in CA, pretty laid back, casual dress type of culture, so putting on a leather jacket for me has a sense of occasion, and as such a buttoned up jacket made the most sense. The Maxwell just sorta hit the right cues for me, had that dress up vibe like a blazer but still had a more casual look like a half belt. I mentioned in my car coat thread that one of my inspirations was Nick Cage in Gone in 60 Seconds, the scene where he unretires his leather blazer. So why not just buy an Aero? Lord knows I came close, several times, but end of the day I wanted to use liner I wanted and I want to try it on, also wanted to make a few subtle tweaks to make it my own.

I never thought I'd wear let alone own a crosszip, there's a mental hurdle, a style barrier if you will, but one day I decided to go to the Schott store and check them out, and the Raven was the one that expanded my horizons. So why didn't I buy it then? The fit, as with almost anything OTR, just wasn't what I wanted given the money involved.

So did the usual jabbing around, got my first crosszip, got my car coat, got a couple others, but as I got educated, as I learned what I liked and hated, meditated on it and said F it I'm going to do this my way. The road here was not smooth, and I thank Damon and JL's staff for their patience because I must've changed my mind several times throughout the process.

My thought process this time was to use existing templates and just alter, vs going full custom. Use a proven formula as opposed to reinvent the wheel. The prevailing theme was wearability first second and third, then everything else. As I stated, I'm in CA, so I don't need a 5oz jacket, I want to get my money's worth putting mileage on the thing, not looking pretty on a hanger.
 

TheDonEffect

Practically Family
Messages
538
So let's start with the M500 crosszip. The CXL has left a really deep imprint on my psyche at the time, so originally I specced Masaye, but even that I had my reservations, let's go even softer and lighter, simpler. So I perused their stock leather and jackets, at first I was going to use a thinner version of what they use for their law enforcement contracts, then considered goat, eventually Damon showed me the Hampton leather.

2.5oz steerhide, wears like a 2oz (may even be 2oz), dyed through. Super soft hand feel, super light feeling. They use it alot in their contracted stuff, the durability and usability was proven, just not as popular because it's perhaps forgettable. I greenlit and that's what I got.

The jacket is super comfortable, like hoody on a cloudy day comfortable. The M500, IYKYK, it's design perfection. It just sits on your shoulder perfectly, even with heavier CXL it's still comforable. Seriously, I never took it off while I was hanging out there, forgot I was even wearing it. The leather feels like lambskin but doesn't have the typical cottony softness, still feels like steer, but has zero stiffness. Zero. It's like wearing a shirt jacket.

And that's for better or worse, because it lacks structure as you can see in the picture. So I don't expect to get shape creases or anything like that. What was remarkable though was how much character there was right out the gate. Now mind you, this is a sliding grading scale, because no it's not a grain monster like a Badalassi or CXL, but it has nice pebbling without looking too uniform or generic. It looks broken in already. The sheen is just medium I'd say, the black is rich which is why I chose it. Too often these blacks tend to fall a bit ashy, I wanted something more inky and this does it. I was concerned it may be too uniform, but it does have some character to it.

You will absolutely not mistake this for any other leather jacket, it's light and is super comfortable. So perhaps then I may have went too far on the other end of the spectrum, perhaps then I should've went with the Masaye, perhaps. But crosszips for me by nature just aren't comfortable, so to have something that is easily as comfortable as my hoodies, in fact in some ways more so with the satin sleeves, I find myself liking it more and more.

Design wise, I went simple. Took the m500, took out the shoulders, snaps in the lapels only, single welt handwarmers (I wear watches and don't like the zippers anywhere near them), and a double welt chest pocket. The coin pocket I originally speced to fit my S12 Ultra in its case, but the look would've been thrown off so just kept it as is. No belt, no adjusters. The only other addition was adding a lengthened kidney panel. Crosszips tend to run short, and when I bend over with my portly mass, my jacket can get as high as mid back, lifting my shirt up as well. So I wanted some protection there. Sorry pictures don't show it, but there's about an inch drop at the rear. I went all black except for the chest for a little pop.
 

TheDonEffect

Practically Family
Messages
538
The Maxwell inspired jacket is a more complicated story, lol. The leather choice changed a million times, as well as the design cues. 4, 5, 6, 7 buttons? Adjusters, etc etc. End of the day, wound up being 4 buttons, since I only ever button 2, the spacing on a 4 button was perfect. Added some top stitching to the double welted pockets, half belt back with subtle single point yoke, and of course action shoulders because I need them. I essentially took their half belt and made it a button front vs going full on custom. I think I did enough touches to make it my own, I don't like carbon copying styles out of respect for makers, so I'll just call it the Max for now (Maximus? Maxton? Maxine?).

Result, it fits perfect and super comfortable. JL has some sort of voodoo magic when it comes to their shoulders, because they fit but do so comfortably with movement.

Now the leather, storytime. This one we left TBD for a while, I told JL what I wanted, and that I'm open to experiment, because unlike the M500 I was ok taking some risk on this one since this wasn't going to be worn a whole lot. So they were working with this tumbled CXL HH which we originally were going to go with. For anyone interested, it's great, it's softer and retains all the character, at the expense of losing some of its sheen. Some of you mentioned liking a more matte finish, in which case this would be a fantastic option. But as I said before, I was fixated on comfort, plus I already have a black CXL carcoat hanging in my closet, so... yeah. Then I decided to go Masaye, it always left a good impression on me and loved the way it look, so we put a pin in that. Damon said the had a few in the pipeline that I may be interested in, so just check back.

Then one day as I was dropping off my liner, we were talking about one of Canuck's jackets, in the beautiful burgundy CXL. I expressed before how I always wanted a burgundy jacket, and then they show me this leather. It's a Horween steerhide CXL in burgundy. It's teacore as you can see on the zipper pull samples, and it's skived. They were making a cafe racer that they were experimenting (if you're on here, please post pics) it with. The thought process was simple, the steerhide is softer than the HH, but they only come in belt leather thickness, so skive it down to 2.5oz +/-. The result, CXL but softer and supple. Dude I didn't even have to think about it, take my money.

So let's start with the criticisms. If you specifically like the CXL HH graining pattern, the tighter, more brush stroke type of graining, this does not have that. It's definitely steer, so more rounder, pebbly, lines. And it doesn't have the same, inky sheen that CXL HH has, but I think that's more to do with this specific color than the animale.

Besides that, it's awesome. It has as much deep character as anything. The color is amazing, that deep burgundy. Now, is it shell cordovan good? I mean, what is, but this color is deep, rich, and just right. Not too red, but won't mistaken for brown, and the shadowy effect just gives a more serious demeanor. The party trick though is yes its teacore, and yes it does have a subtle pull up to it. Leather nerd button has been hit, lol.

Like Canuck, I like character, I prefer scars, imperfections, and prefer quilts to more uniform perfection, and couldn't be happier with what I got. It's amazing.

Yes it smells like typical CXL, which is awesome.

So how does it wear? In a word, amazing. Even skived, it still has a good heft to it, and there is structure to it, but not stiffness. It doesn't fight, it doesn't have a bounce back memory stiffness. When JL finished the jacket, the first thing Damon told me was you're going to be amazed how comfortable this thing is, zero break in needed. He was absolutely right.

So best way I can describe it, anyone with a ubiquitous 3oz dye through aniline steerhide found in many riding jackets from places like JL, Vanson, Schott (perhaps not the comp), etc, it feels right around there. It's that wearable from the start.

It does have just enough structure and stiffness to develop character, I only wore it from the store, stood in line for Golden Boy Pizza, and drove an hour or so home, and it's already showing nice creasing in the sleeves. And the best part, it was comfortable enough the thought didnt cross my mind to take it off.

So you'll have to excuse my noobness since I'm not familiar with all the leathers in the world, but this leather blew me away. Oftentimes, when you get the finished pictures, you're excited about how great it looks, then you receive it and are reminded of the work that needs to be done to get it where you want, and spending this sort of money it leads to a bit of disappointment. I got instant gratification with this one.

I think I may have found my goldilocks leather for me.


As far as JL is concerned, aces as usual. Build quality is great as expected, great service as usual. They are inundated right now, as they usually are during riding season and getting in all the orders for Fall/Winter.
 

TheDonEffect

Practically Family
Messages
538
How did the skived CXL turn out? Are the buttons easier to open and close? I pivoted last minute and went with Masaye instead.


They seem to be quite busy this time of the year. I remember the same backlog last year around this early summer time. What jacket did you have in mind?

Awesome!

How does the buttons work? Easy to open and close on the skived CXL?


Masaye? Or Vermont?


Ask and you shall receive, lol. I was contemplating whether I should post pics or not, but since you asked.

Buttons are an absolute non factor. Easy to open and close, of course it's a new so there's a little break in but it doesn't require any sort of deliberate effort. My CXL car coat on the other hand yeah took some working in and sore finger tips. Again, this sorta lends to the whole thing that this leather is notably softer.

The M500 is their stock Hampton leather, the fact you with your keen eye is asking that is making me feel super proud of my choice, lol.

That Hampton leather is seriously like wearing a shirt, the way it wears it almost feels like "vegan leather", and I mean that in a complimentary way considering my goals with that one. Oh, since I mentioned that, it does have a little squeak to it, but it's because my dumb ass only noticed it when I was demonstrating all the fun activities I can do with it on, (jumping jack, pushups, YMCA dance, you get the idea) lol. Walking around and such it's quiet. And while I'm being critical, the smell isn't fantasmic, I mean good leather smell, but remember I'm high on CXL leather which are my only other reference points at the moment. But it isn't a particularly thick leather stuffed with stuff, so the dye smell is perhaps more pronounced.
 
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TheDonEffect

Practically Family
Messages
538
That's just lovely.

Thank you.

That Burgundy one is making me drool.

Dude, seriously, I have never been as decisive about anything until I saw that leather on their work bench, lol. I told Damon for me this is a game changer, I want everything in this leather, lol.

Stunning!!!! Love the liner too. Brilliant!

Much appreciated, we love our wacky liners! It's the one constant with everything I had made, I wish I could find some silky type fabric in Aloha print so I could have them in my suit jackets, lol.
 

MTS

Familiar Face
Messages
58
How did the skived CXL turn out? Are the buttons easier to open and close? I pivoted last minute and went with Masaye instead.


They seem to be quite busy this time of the year. I remember the same backlog last year around this early summer time. What jacket did you have in mind?

Good info to know. Was thinking maybe the M-500 or the CR-76. I was just curious about some sale stuff since I had sent my sister to the physical store when she was back in SF but I realized it was just way too confusing for her to get me something.


Man, both those jackets are so nice. Really hoping they answer me now!
 

Canuck Panda

Call Me a Cab
Messages
2,453
Ask and you shall receive, lol. I was contemplating whether I should post pics or not, but since you asked.

Buttons are an absolute non factor. Easy to open and close, of course it's a new so there's a little break in but it doesn't require any sort of deliberate effort. My CXL car coat on the other hand yeah took some working in and sore finger tips. Again, this sorta lends to the whole thing that this leather is notably softer.

The M500 is their stock Hampton leather, the fact you with your keen eye is asking that is making me feel super proud of my choice, lol.

That Hampton leather is seriously like wearing a shirt, the way it wears it almost feels like "vegan leather", and I mean that in a complimentary way considering my goals with that one. Oh, since I mentioned that, it does have a little squeak to it, but it's because my dumb ass only noticed it when I was demonstrating all the fun activities I can do with it on, (jumping jack, pushups, YMCA dance, you get the idea) lol. Walking around and such it's quiet. And while I'm being critical, the smell isn't fantasmic, I mean good leather smell, but remember I'm high on CXL leather which are my only other reference points at the moment. But it isn't a particularly thick leather stuffed with stuff, so the dye smell is perhaps more pronounced.
It'd be interesting to see how the Hampton leather develops.

The skived cordovan steer CXL looks awesome! It has just parted my (wallet's) legs. Damn it...

Good info to know. Was thinking maybe the M-500 or the CR-76. I was just curious about some sale stuff since I had sent my sister to the physical store when she was back in SF but I realized it was just way too confusing for her to get me something.



Man, both those jackets are so nice. Really hoping they answer me now!
I'm heavily biased towards any variations of the M500. The CR 76 is the slimmer X-zip with cafe racer collar right?

Sometimes it takes JL a while to get back to me too. I think one of my last inquiry took almost two weeks to get some answers because they didn't get the answers on the Horween leather either. But there was always a reply. It also doesn't hurt to give them a nudge and let them know you are still waiting. Good luck!
 
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TheDonEffect

Practically Family
Messages
538
Good info to know. Was thinking maybe the M-500 or the CR-76. I was just curious about some sale stuff since I had sent my sister to the physical store when she was back in SF but I realized it was just way too confusing for her to get me something.



Man, both those jackets are so nice. Really hoping they answer me now!


This is probably their busiest time. Riding jackets getting made/repaired for spring and summer, and then all the large orders for fall and winter season.

In the past, I found email works well with them, but keep in mind they don't have a dedicated staff to take calls/emails. When I visit, I rarely see Alan, he's usually in the back somewhere making jackets, Craig I believe is part time working mostly front of the house stuff, and Damon is usually working jackets and doing front of the house stuff. Normally when I stop by, I catch Damon in the middle of a cutting a pattern or taking phone calls.

Yeah, I could not be happier with my jackets, and that skived CXL steerhide is great stuff, you won't be disappointed. If you considered visiting them, I implore you to do so. When I first visited them years ago, their stock didn't have much variation of leathers, but now their stock is becoming more diverse with CXLs, Masaye, with all sorts of patterns, makes it a ton easier to visualize and pick what you want, and makes the whole experience more efficient. They're really great at finding the right fit too.
 
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MTS

Familiar Face
Messages
58
It'd be interesting to see how the Hampton leather develops.

The skived cordovan steer CXL looks awesome! It has just parted my (wallet's) legs. Damn it...


I'm heavily biased towards any variations of the M500. The CR 76 is the slimmer X-zip with cafe racer collar right?

Sometimes it takes JL a while to get back to me too. I think one of my last inquiry took almost two weeks to get some answers because they didn't get the answers on the Horween leather either. But there was always a reply. It also doesn't hurt to give them a nudge and let them know you are still waiting. Good luck!

Yeah, I've given them a nudge earlier today. I totally understand them busy and probably not having enough staff to answer my silly questions haha. They were prompt and extremely helpful the last time I contacted them.

From what they've told me:
For cafe racers they have the N-200 and the CR-76. The N-200 is more of a motorcycle riding cut as it’s shorter in the body length, has a slightly longer sleeve length and a bi-swing back.

The CR-76 is more of a casual jacket and doesn't have the bi-swing back and is cut a little longer in the body length.
This is probably their busiest time. Riding jackets getting made/repaired for spring and summer, and then all the large orders for fall and winter season.

In the past, I found email works well with them, but keep in mind they don't have a dedicated staff to take calls/emails. When I visit, I rarely see Alan, he's usually in the back somewhere making jackets, Craig I believe is part time working mostly front of the house stuff, and Damon is usually working jackets and doing front of the house stuff. Normally when I stop by, I catch Damon in the middle of a cutting a pattern or taking phone calls.

Yeah, I could not be happier with my jackets, and that skived CXL steerhide is great stuff, you won't be disappointed. If you considered visiting them, I implore you to do so. When I first visited them years ago, their stock didn't have much variation of leathers, but now their stock is becoming more diverse with CXLs, Masaye, with all sorts of patterns, makes it a ton easier to visualize and pick what you want, and makes the whole experience more efficient. They're really great at finding the right fit too.

I'm from LA, so I can't as easily go visit them. However, I had many friends and family that went to school/worked in the Bay Area, so I spent quite a bit of time up there. For this reason I've always wanted to get a jacket from them! I do intend to visit them one day though!
 

Canuck Panda

Call Me a Cab
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2,453
For cafe racers they have the N-200 and the CR-76. The N-200 is more of a motorcycle riding cut as it’s shorter in the body length, has a slightly longer sleeve length and a bi-swing back.

The CR-76 is more of a casual jacket and doesn't have the bi-swing back and is cut a little longer in the body length.
I have the M-200 which is the N-200 with a dress collar. And it's short. Still works but for size 42 its back is only 22.5". The M-500 back length is also on the shorter side, about 24.5" for size 40. Both wears just long enough when fully zipped. It'd be nice to see a CR-76 around here.

Leather choices on the other hand, will take much longer to figure out. Just too many.
 

TheDonEffect

Practically Family
Messages
538
It'd be interesting to see how the Hampton leather develops.

The skived cordovan steer CXL looks awesome! It has just parted my (wallet's) legs. Damn it...


I'm heavily biased towards any variations of the M500. The CR 76 is the slimmer X-zip with cafe racer collar right?

Sometimes it takes JL a while to get back to me too. I think one of my last inquiry took almost two weeks to get some answers because they didn't get the answers on the Horween leather either. But there was always a reply. It also doesn't hurt to give them a nudge and let them know you are still waiting. Good luck!


It's funny, if I'm being totally honest, the personality of the Hampton at first impression didn't wow me at all. The wearability absolutely did and that was my primarily goal, hence I was satisfied with the choice, but tbh couldn't help but think did I sacrifice too much for the comfort. Especially when I had the cornucopia of eye-gasms cordovan jacket next to it.

When I chose the Hampton, I knew I wanted a stock leather, something they readily have on hand and use alot, you know to let the chef make their tested standby dishes with their ingredients. They had a ton of them. I initially had one picked out, but Damon steered me towards the Hampton noting the deeper color and said when he saw them later on, they actually develop character. The color I noticed, alot if not most black leathers have that sorta hazy grey that's only noticeable when you have it next to an oily deep inky black leather, and this black was definitely truer which I liked.

The personality and character potential is starting to register now, especially looking at the areas where they had to handle the jacket alot like the collar and where seams meet and such, and the color in the sunlight is great.

I'm not sure how much it will develop, because it's a thin leather that's almost as pliable as cloth, and when I wear it doesn't give much opportunity for creasing, or stacking (to use a denim term), it has a hard enough time keeping the lapel shape. But that said, it's already starting develop some personality which is a welcomed surprise.

That skived steer CXL, man oh man, makes a man think crazy thoughts. Black M500, natural halfzip, blue cafe, brown cossack... seriously, I think the most pronounced feeling in all this is relief, in that I found a leather that to me feels special, AND that I actually want to wear. And that's the unicorn quality that gets me to spend stupid money on stuff. I don't like garage/safe/closet queens, I like stuff that encourage me to use it. Seriously, that skived steerhide CXL is a game changer for me, because just when I thought I was out, it's not letting me go.

Like, I love my M500, and it achieved the goals that I set for it, but this steer CXL... perhaps I can have my cake and eat it, perhaps a skived steer CXL black M500? But I just bought a black M500 that I'm happy with. But that leather...
 

TheDonEffect

Practically Family
Messages
538
Yeah, I've given them a nudge earlier today. I totally understand them busy and probably not having enough staff to answer my silly questions haha. They were prompt and extremely helpful the last time I contacted them.

From what they've told me:
For cafe racers they have the N-200 and the CR-76. The N-200 is more of a motorcycle riding cut as it’s shorter in the body length, has a slightly longer sleeve length and a bi-swing back.

The CR-76 is more of a casual jacket and doesn't have the bi-swing back and is cut a little longer in the body length.


I'm from LA, so I can't as easily go visit them. However, I had many friends and family that went to school/worked in the Bay Area, so I spent quite a bit of time up there. For this reason I've always wanted to get a jacket from them! I do intend to visit them one day though!

I hear that, but my thought is, if you're going to spend this sort of dough on a jacket, and all that separates you is a 5 hour drive (or couple hundred bucks roundtrip these days) from the full JL experience with the added excuse of visiting friends/family, I mean, why not. Much easier to just try on the jackets, find one that fits right, let them know your adjustments, and then check out all the leather options. Heck, you might even save some money and end up finding something off the rack, and they got a good amount on the rack, that savings could probably pay for your trip.


I have the M-200 which is the N-200 with a dress collar. And it's short. Still works but for size 42 its back is only 22.5". The M-500 back length is also on the shorter side, about 24.5" for size 40. Both wears just long enough when fully zipped. It'd be nice to see a CR-76 around here.

Leather choices on the other hand, will take much longer to figure out. Just too many.

Seriously, the leather choices will take up most of the decision making effort. Seeing them in person helps alot since they'll usually have a jacket made in it.
 

MTS

Familiar Face
Messages
58
I have the M-200 which is the N-200 with a dress collar. And it's short. Still works but for size 42 its back is only 22.5". The M-500 back length is also on the shorter side, about 24.5" for size 40. Both wears just long enough when fully zipped. It'd be nice to see a CR-76 around here.

Leather choices on the other hand, will take much longer to figure out. Just too many.

22.5" would be quite short! I was leaning towards a CR-76 just cause I bought a Schott P613S a while ago. I feel you on that...I constantly have leather decision paralysis haha.

I hear that, but my thought is, if you're going to spend this sort of dough on a jacket, and all that separates you is a 5 hour drive (or couple hundred bucks roundtrip these days) from the full JL experience with the added excuse of visiting friends/family, I mean, why not. Much easier to just try on the jackets, find one that fits right, let them know your adjustments, and then check out all the leather options. Heck, you might even save some money and end up finding something off the rack, and they got a good amount on the rack, that savings could probably pay for your trip.




Seriously, the leather choices will take up most of the decision making effort. Seeing them in person helps alot since they'll usually have a jacket made in it.

It was much easier to make a trip of it before! I have some real life considerations that make me want to stay as close as home as possible right now. Most of my friends and family also no longer work or go to school in the Bay Area anymore.

What you're saying makes a lot of sense. Most things actually fit me pretty well off the rack. I've always wanted to visit them and I'm sure I would love the experience and to see everything they have to offer. I know I'll eventually head up there for something and I could get my jacket then...but I'm very impatient with these things (for no apparent reason honestly; I know I'm not the only one on here like this haha).

Like you and Canuck said...it's always the leather decisions that cause me the most time. I was leaning towards a Board Racer from Aero or a jacket from JL; JL slightly edged them out due to being from SF. When I was looking at Aero leather choices, I had serious decision paralysis...Badalassi, Vincenza, CXL, Jerky, etc.
 

TheDonEffect

Practically Family
Messages
538
Yeah, the leather choice is a tough one, and you never know how a sample will translate into a completed jacket. I know they just made a CR in the same cordovan leather, and apparently they have other colors as well, food for thought, lol.

Hope all is well with what's keeping you near home.
 

Canuck Panda

Call Me a Cab
Messages
2,453
I hope you get your sizes sorted out with JL soon. They have very good pattern blocks. Once you got the sizes sorted there are no limits due to their super wide range of leather selection. This is also the most difficult part because so many choices out there.

I'm also living my mid life squeeze right now. The past two years didn't make things easy either. Leather jacket hobby has been my escape.
 

MTS

Familiar Face
Messages
58
Yeah, the last two years have been crazy. Obviously some bad stuff but have had huge life milestones this past two years as well (got married and bought a house)! Covid years was really rough on my grandma.

I would fit a small in the CR-76 and a 38 in the M-500. Those would both be very solid fits for OTR too. Is there anywhere I can look at all of JL's leather choices with descriptions? I'm sad more places don't have leather choices with descriptions (had to email Aero about leathers I was interested in).
 

TheDonEffect

Practically Family
Messages
538
Yeah, the last two years have been crazy. Obviously some bad stuff but have had huge life milestones this past two years as well (got married and bought a house)! Covid years was really rough on my grandma.

I would fit a small in the CR-76 and a 38 in the M-500. Those would both be very solid fits for OTR too. Is there anywhere I can look at all of JL's leather choices with descriptions? I'm sad more places don't have leather choices with descriptions (had to email Aero about leathers I was interested in).


Nowhere I could think of and it's pretty fluid, for instance the burgundy leather on mine was a new offering.
 

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