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Original vs. Repro?

technovox

One Too Many
Messages
1,166
Location
San Francisco
Excuse me if this has been discussed before, but I can’t seem to find this topic specifically addressed in any searches, and it seems timely.
When ordering a custom jacket, is it necessary to slavishly follow every last detail of the original (say in the case of a Buco J100 or Half-belt?) Or is it acceptable to customize in order to allow for changes in today’s size, taste, functionality, (ie. selecting the hardware, changing the size and placements of the pockets, zippers, or amount of drop front, and other details that would never have been a feature found on an original.)
Or should one bypass the repro conundrum altogether and find a good original (assuming that’s possible).
In my earlier years of collecting there was never this kind of discussion. When it came to a rare Eames chair, Bertoia sculpture, Rolex, or whatever, one always sought out the original. Even the best of repros were considered inferior, cheap knock-offs with little or no value.
But jackets seem to come with a whole different set of criteria, quality and design considerations. Why the difference?
I’ll concede that often times originals just don’t fit right, and have issues such as smells, fit, wear, and/or functionality. But there’s a beauty with the worn, beat look, years of being handled and cherished that result in character, balance, and patina that a repro may never achieve.
And yet repros have a big advantage in that the customer is able to get the look without the pain, and tailor that look to his/her body type, taste, climate and comfort needs.
So at what point does a jacket design cease to have that coveted cache and timeless style of the original and start to venture into a “franken-jacket” with little or no balance or historical relevance? From the moment one changes a zipper, snap, or design detail? Or am I fooling myself- will the repro always be a pale imitation of the original? Can a repro be better than the original?
I’m sure many of you have given this much more consideration and grappled with these issues far more than I, so what are your thoughts?
 

handymike

I'll Lock Up
Messages
9,908
Location
SoCal
If you can find an original in good condition that fits, then great!
I've come to enjoy the custom fit of my not-quite-original-tweaked repro jacket.
 

Dinerman

Super Moderator
Bartender
Messages
10,562
Location
Bozeman, MT
The workmanship and materials on most reproductions blow many originals out of the water. It's the difference between mass produced and (generally) built to a price vs hand craftsmanship.
It seems many repro companies take their quest for authenticity too far, using zippers that never existed (like the hookless jacket zipper) or using leather twice as heavy as used on originals, to make them "more authentic" than the real thing. It's a fine line, and when you're buying a jacket that costs as much as repros do, I'm sure people would be upset to get something with the stitch irregularities of originals, with mis-matched or thin leather, with slightly irregular cuts. An original jacket was a utilitarian garment. A $1000+ reproduction jacket shared on the internet is a status symbol and with that come different expectations in terms of materials used and preciseness of workmanship.

I prefer the eccentricities of vintage jacket design over the homogenization and simplification of designs produced by most of the high end repro companies. Out of the thousands of designs produced, with all the unique collar, pocket, cuff, and back treaments, we're down to a handful that every company seems to have a version of, begging the question- is it a repro of an original or of another company's repro that proved to be popular?



In the end, it's a jacket, meant to be worn. There's authenticity and there's what you're comfortable with.
 

mikepara

Practically Family
Messages
563
Location
Scottish Borders
I wholeheartedly agree with Dinerman, especially his last statement. Most of us on this forum, identify with and like to wear a style that was worn by our forebears sometime since 1900. We probably all agree that if you are lucky enough to find an original garment or household item, it would be a shame to alter it to fit with your modern lifestyles. However it is an all together different ball game when buying a made to order representation of something from the past You pay your bucks, feel free to alter, add or replace parts that don't quite fit what you are comfortable with. If you were a blind follower of style or fashion you wouldn't be reading this.
 

Superfluous

My Mail is Forwarded Here
Messages
3,995
Location
Missing in action
I LOVE original Buco jackets (and Becks). Unfortunately, it is nearly impossible to find a decent condition original that fits me well. They are generally way too short. I found one a couple of years ago and decided to take a day before shelling out the considerable price . . . the jacket was gone when I called back.

Other than Bucos and Becks . . . and perhaps certain Sears Hercules . . . I personally have little or no interest in original jackets.

Generally speaking, I do not care if my reproduction jacket is an exact copy of the original. I am fine with modifications and tweaks. On the other hand, I do enjoy accurate reproductions of certain discrete details (e.g., the collar snap on RMC’s Buco J-100), even if other aspects of the jacket deviate from the original (I know – makes no sense).

Lastly, as already observed, the reproductions are generally superior to the originals, both in terms of the leather and the workmanship. Moreover, although I do not subscribe to the LW school of thought regarding leather thickness, I do prefer a hide slightly thicker than most originals.

In the end, repros provide a better made, customizable jacket. For me, that is more desirable than most original jackets (save a well preserved Buco J-100 or Beck that fits me well).
 

wild_balls

Practically Family
Messages
594
Location
WESTCOAST OF SWEDEN
The workmanship and materials on most reproductions blow many originals out of the water. It's the difference between mass produced and (generally) built to a price vs hand craftsmanship.
It seems many repro companies take their quest for authenticity too far, using zippers that never existed (like the hookless jacket zipper) or using leather twice as heavy as used on originals, to make them "more authentic" than the real thing. It's a fine line, and when you're buying a jacket that costs as much as repros do, I'm sure people would be upset to get something with the stitch irregularities of originals, with mis-matched or thin leather, with slightly irregular cuts. An original jacket was a utilitarian garment. A $1000+ reproduction jacket shared on the internet is a status symbol and with that come different expectations in terms of materials used and preciseness of workmanship.

I prefer the eccentricities of vintage jacket design over the homogenization and simplification of designs produced by most of the high end repro companies. Out of the thousands of designs produced, with all the unique collar, pocket, cuff, and back treaments, we're down to a handful that every company seems to have a version of, begging the question- is it a repro of an original or of another company's repro that proved to be popular?



In the end, it's a jacket, meant to be worn. There's authenticity and there's what you're comfortable with.

Nothing more to add!
 
Messages
15,572
Location
East Central Indiana
I went through some years in mainly a disappointing quest for original/authentic riding jackets such as Buco and others. Out of all that I purchased, usually from eBay, one remains in my collection simply because that jacket alone fit very well. After going through the many lingering hopeful with too short sleeves or body length that I tried to make work, it was quite a relief to find custom leather jacket makers. Most often my custom features were for only length sizing, maybe extra pocket, rather than the drastic reconfiguration that some customers seem eager to attempt with that new found freedom. I tired of the disappointing originals and sure didn't want to face the same thing with over customization. As far as following every last detail of an original design, there have been many improvements over the years to some from old designs by newer jacket companies, from my perspective (not so much from individual novice custom customers, though. IMO). However, with the custom Buco style cafe jackets (as an example), I can add simple hand warmer pockets which I prefer.. and I'm sure some others would consider that as serious sacrilege. Yet for the price of a new custom repro an exceptional hide and a few slight tweaks should be allowable.
HD
 

Mark

Practically Family
Messages
567
Location
UK
Interesting discussion gents. A question for you, what makes a jacket "vintage"? I was thinking of my Aero HWM, its not old but I believe it is "original" in its design. I remember Holly telling me they would no longer deviate from the original design when I asked for some minor customization.
 

Seb Lucas

I'll Lock Up
Messages
7,573
Location
Australia
Dinerman's comments sound spot on to me. While a repro offers customizable sleeves and length I think once you start changing other details you're in a whole different territory and you loose pattern integrity. The fact the leather used today is so thick compared to vintage is something that has never sat right with me.
 

ProteinNerd

My Mail is Forwarded Here
Messages
3,786
Location
Sydney
Fit is king. If I could get an in good condition original that fits well, I'd go for it. Unfortunately the market in Sydney is very small with not a lot of options or variety in my experience. The other vintage option is obviously eBay and measurements are more than a little variable, so I've found my best option is a reproduction.

I personally have no issue with slight mods to a more general style (like a half belt) but in a specific jacket like a Buco J100, I prefer it to be accurate.

As for frankenjackets, if someone likes their own hideous creation and a manufacturer is happy to make it.....who is it hurting? There are a lot of terrible looking clothes put out every year by the fashion houses that people wear on a daily basis. If people never tried to innovate and create/design new patterns, I wouldn't be able to think "at least I look better than him" as I walk down the street lol
 
Messages
10,195
Location
Pasadena, CA
It would be easy for someone sized 36-40 to say "just buy an original - the rest are fakes". But for those of us on the larger end of the spectrum, big jackets almost don't exist, and if they are found, they usually carry a steep price and won't fit the way a modern guy is built. I'm not talking about being fat, I'm talking about being big and/or tall.
As much as I have drooled over vintage jackets over the years, there have been very very few of them I could wear or afford at the time. Thank god for the re-makers.
Funny thing is I don't feel that way about faux homes built to look Victorian or Craftsman style. I get all riled up over that so I guess I'm just a hypocrite... :p
 

nick123

I'll Lock Up
Messages
6,360
Location
California
In my very limited experience (one vintage jacket), I think that repros are a bit more exciting. Many times, they're built especially for you-so there's a neat emotional thing going on with them. And there are so many choices out there of exactly what to order. It's fun.

Both have a place though. Originals are special too.
 

jacketjunkie

Call Me a Cab
Messages
2,111
Location
Germany
It's not the old jackets in all their details that I care about; it's the spirit of quality, craftmanship and longevity which these jackets represent that I care about and look after. Hence I do not care too much about originals, original designs and authenticy and change whatever I find more fashionable or more functional.
 

rocketeer

Call Me a Cab
Messages
2,612
Location
England
st for authenticity too far, using zippers that never existed (like the hookless jacket zipper) or using leather twice as heavy as used on originals, to make them "more authentic" than the real thing.
In the end, it's a jacket, meant to be worn. There's authenticity and there's what you're comfortable with.

So whats the story about the Hookless jacket zipper? There are a few examples in Google images. Or is it a make of zipper, but never used on any leather jackets.
I love your last comment, some folks are scared to wear there £600+ jackets to the max and how many do you see for sale in 'Mint Condition'? Shame some of these owners did not get to wear there jackets to death for fear of loosing any resale value.
Cheers, J
 

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