Simmons Bilt Shinki Hikaku Horsehide

Discussion in 'Outerwear' started by Robbie79, Dec 18, 2016.

  1. Robbie79

    Robbie79 One Too Many

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    1,400
    Dear Members,

    I've been searching for an affordable leather jacket made of Shinki horsehide. I've tried on a RMC A1 made of Shinki HH (seal/dark seal) and I love the touch, smell, weight, etc. but the price of approx 2000 EUR is too high for me. As my max. budget is ~800-900 EUR, I followed the recommendation of members here in the forum and tried on an Aero jacket made of Vicenza Italian HH (russet HH) but IMO the RMC Shinki is much better. Diamond Dave jackets are also no option due to the strong USD compared to EUR plus tax, customs, shipping to Germany. This week I was glad to figure out that Simmons Bilt now offers Shinki HH and the price is affordable for me!! :) As I have read so many bad things about Simmons Bilt here I'm hesitant in terms of jacket quality and leather quality. Does anyone here have experience with their Shinki HH?

    Thank you in advance and have a nice Sunday!
    Regards, Robbie
     
    Roma likes this.
  2. Carlos840

    Carlos840 My Mail is Forwarded Here

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    Here is a review of my Shinki DD jacket that you might find helpful:

    http://www.thefedoralounge.com/threads/diamond-clothing-buco-j100-review.83051/

    Personally i would rate HH leathers i own this way: CXL at the top, then the Italian hide that ELMC uses, then Horween Warhawk, then Shinki, and finally Vincenza at the bottom of the pile.
    Shinki is nice, and has a lovely grain but it doesn't break in as nicely as CXL does. My Shinki has amazing grain, but it feels plastic coated and doesn't seem to be developing any character with wear.
    My CXL on the other hand is showing great break in and character. I really love it.
    The Warehawck feels similar, but thicker and it is a tea core which is nice.
    The ELMC is just lovely stuff, lightweight, but amazing character.

    To me Vincenza is too even, very pebbled looking, almost like the kind of leather you would expect to see on a quality leather couch, not a fan. (although i would love a Vincenza couch!!)

    Now when it comes to SB, you won't find much love for them here! I have personaly bought a jacket from them back in the AL days and it was an overall good experience, i still wear it, it is one of my favourite and best fitting jackets.
    I don't think they have a special kind of Shinki. From what i have read, Shinki is Shinki, you buy what they have or you don't. I wouldn't expect their shinki to be any different.

    Here is my AL jacket:

    http://www.thefedoralounge.com/threads/alexander-leathers-cafe-racer.80054/

    I want to add that although i like the jacket they made me, i wouldn't order form them again now that i know the story of how they started.
     
    Last edited: Dec 18, 2016
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  3. Damon B

    Damon B New in Town

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    Hi, I have an Aero and a Simmons Bilt, quality wise, fit wise and service wise I can't split them, both superb. The stuff thats gone on in the past, well thats for you to decide if its a problem for you I guess, personally I think its time to move on.
     
    MRB1248 likes this.
  4. Pdawg

    Pdawg One of the Regulars

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    You should also check out their clayton hh. It has a similiar waxy feel like cxl with grain variegation. I think the pigmented shinki has the painted on feeling. I am also not a fan of the tumbled hh, it feels like artificial grain. I think weight may also be an important factor and what type of weight you want in your jacket.
     
    A-1 likes this.
  5. ButteMT61

    ButteMT61

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    Have to disagree with @Carlos840 on the shinki hides. But consider that batches of hide are all different so it's a moot point.
    Can't go wrong with any he mentioned.
    All have pluses and minuses.
     
    sweetfights, Fanch and tmitchell59 like this.
  6. A-1

    A-1 One Too Many

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    I’ve seen their Clayton Brown HH and it’s so beautiful!
    I have a Shinki DD jacket and I love everything about it. But as Butte said, whatever you choose, you will love it! I’d go with the Shinki if it was your holy grail and you love it! If you’re buying another leather now, you’d probably getting a Shinki jacket anyway...
     
    Pdawg and ButteMT61 like this.
  7. Robbie79

    Robbie79 One Too Many

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    Hello all,
    First of all I would like to thank you for your recommendations and advices. As I don't prefer leather that feels like plastic, I guess Shinki is not the right choice. I'm searching for my "holy grail" leather jacket - the horsehide leather should feel like a soft leather glove and developing a nice patina would also be nice and it should "last for a lifetime" or at least 5-10 years if you know what I mean. According to Carlos840 ELMC Italian HH might be the right choice for me but I'm not sure, yet. Perhaps there is any leather I don't know which meets my personal "requirements". Please excuse for being so picky. How about the Clayton HH which was mentioned by A-1? Do you think this would meet my requirements?
    Thank you again and have a nice Sunday evening!
    Kind regards,
    Robbie
     
  8. Superfluous

    Superfluous My Mail is Forwarded Here

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    Robbie,

    Do not base your decision on a single observation regarding one jacket. Rather, do your research and read a broad assortment of reviews and opinions. Better yet, handle the hides yourself (e.g., obtain samples).

    I have seven jackets made from Shinki HH and not one looks or feels like plastic. Shinki is a veg tanned, aniline medium weight HH that achieves the robust, durable feel of heavier hides without the concomitant rigidity. Shinki employs a comprehensive and time-consuming pit tanning process that produces a unique feel. Thus, Shinki is far and away my favorite HH.

    My second favorite HH is Vicenza. Vicenza is also a medium weight hide with some of the characteristics of Shinki. That said, I sold both of the Vicenza jackets that I previously owned because I overwhelmingly favor Shinki. IMHO, Shinki feels better and lays better when worn. Its an intangible thing. On the other hand, its very apparent when you wear them side by side.

    I have handled several heavy weight Horween HHs and, without exception, they were uncomfortably rigid . . . literally unwearable . . . a suit of armor. Some here insist that, over time, these hides will break in and become more comfortable. Others disagree and share stories of heavy weight jackets that remained uncomfortably rigid after many years of wear. I don't have personal experience on this issue. I have no desire to endure an uncomfortable jacket for an indeterminate amount of time in the hope that, after years of wear, it might, possibly become comfortable. Why should I when a Shinki jacket is comfortable and enjoyable to wear from day one.

    I have seen some heavy weight Horween hides that developed fantastic patinas as described by Carlos. I have also seen Shinki hides that developed unbelievable patinas and grain characteristics. Both leathers are capable of wonderful patinas. The primary difference is that the Shinki hide will be comfortable to wear while it develops its patina -- not so much with some of the heavier weight hides.

    I have also handled ELMC's Italian HH. It was surprisingly thin . . . too thin for me.

    All of the foregoing leathers will vary from batch to batch, and will therefore have slightly different characteristics. My seven Shinki jackets have tangible differences. Given the nature of the pit tanning process employed by Shinki, I suspect the variation in their hides may be more pronounced as compared to the assembly line chrome or combo tan used by others.

    Lastly, if you are seeking to purchase a single jacket that will be your "holy grail" piece, I humbly suggest that you not compromise (which inevitably results in regret and disappointment). If that means you must slightly delay your purchase, so be it. You are buying a jacket to enjoy for many years . . . a short delay will be well worth it in the long run.

    Good luck with your search.
     
  9. Rudie

    Rudie Call Me a Cab

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    Just ask them to send you swatches. Nothing beats seeing and feeling the leather in person.
     
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  10. Blackadder

    Blackadder Call Me a Cab

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    Here's a thing that some of us might have overlooked. In order to produce a quick fading "tea core" effect or to provide an unique colour, many makers use brown leather from the tannery then apply a top coat of different colour on it themselves. For example, if I am not mistaken A-1's DD was hand-dyed black by DD himself using "bordeaux" shiniki (there are photos re making of A-1's DD in A-1's thread).
    http://www.thefedoralounge.com/threads/diamond-dave-buco-j-21.84178/page-8

    Brian the bootmaker also hand-dyed his olive colour engineer boots. So the top coat/surface may vary even if they all come from say Shiniki tannery. Rudie is right about getting samples from SB as the shiniki in the photo on SB's website seem a bit different, may be because it was a different top coat not to mention Mr Chapman's comment about Shiniki's corrected grains and non-corrected grains.
     
    Last edited: Dec 18, 2016
    imabuddha and Pdawg like this.
  11. Mark

    Mark Practically Family

    Messages:
    523
    Location:
    UK
    Thank you Superfluous for that very informative explanation. It has helped me some what in trying to decide upon a hide for a café racer I am hoping/dreaming of.
    I would advice Robbie79 as others have to get some samples. Also I would suggest thinking about when/where you want to wear the jacket. For example I believe veg tanned hides are not so good in the rain.
     
  12. A-1

    A-1 One Too Many

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    Well, all SF and the others said is right!
    Plus, if you’re looking for THE ONE jacket, there are a lot more things to consider than just the leather. The model, the fit, the zippers, the pocket placing, the sleeve lining, bla bla.

    However, the most important part of SF comment was, don’t compromise! Not on the price, model or leather.
    Take your time, get the leathers (ask them for big samples), feel them, smell them. Consider the model you would like to have. Does it fit your style? Can you wear it anywhere? Is it comfortable, are the pockets practical for every day wear?

    And don’t worry! In the end the jacket you’ll receive WON'T be perfect! No jacket is! But it’s gonna be all yours and you’re gonna feel great in it! Haha. You have to wear it, make it yours, put scars on it, let it mold to your body! I’m drifting off...

    And I totally don’t think that Shinki is plasticky. Bill Kelso Liberty HH yeah, but Shinki, not at all. You can see some detailed shots here from my jacket after about a year of every day wear:
    http://www.thefedoralounge.com/threads/diamond-dave-buco-j-21.84178/page-25

    But as I said, get the leathers yourselves! Your opinion may be completely different from mine or from the other „experts“ here.
     
  13. handymike

    handymike I'll Lock Up

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    In my experience, Horsehide isn't generally buttery-soft. I've only handled 2 HH jackets that were, and both were from Italian HH (Thedi & Sam Walker). You should get samples, and if possible try jackets on that are made from the type you think you like. Dont rule out steerhide! It can age beautifully too :)
    Good luck!
    BTW- I love the RMC A-1 as well.
     
  14. Azog

    Azog Familiar Face

    Messages:
    87
    Location:
    Melbourne
    I've got the very jacket that was used in the website photos for Simmons Bilt Vintage Half Belt. I believe it is the Clayton Vintage Brown. (Although the website says the pictured jacket is Horween Steerhide Black, it definitely isn't).

    I can vouch that the Clayton Vintage leather in brown is a premium leather with areas of striations, areas of strong grain and some smoother areas. It has a heavy wax content so softens up a lot when it warms up. The finish is fairly glossy (which I like) and wears to a more matte finish in the high wear areas. The leather is substantial without being too heavy or thick. It also creases readily from wear which I also like. It has a high water resistance. Smells great too.

    Regarding the actual jacket, it has a big collar that folds out to a much better form than pictured. The solid brass side buckles look great but are a bit too loose to secure the straps firmly - I've had to fold the straps over a couple times. Overall great jacket and has been my main wearer recently.
     
    Last edited: Dec 18, 2016
  15. Fanch

    Fanch I'll Lock Up

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    I think all of us at times see different parts of the elephant. I have two Vicenza jackets, both Sheenes (russet and black) and have handled a couple of others owned by @pawineguy, and will have to say Vicenza is my favorite of all regarding look, feel, and drape. I have one brown Shinki Ventura that I bought from John Chapman that was made by Himel Bros that is top notch in every way, although I believe I prefer Vicenza that I have seen over my one Shinki that is just a bit more stiff than Vicenzas that I have seen and felt. Take nothing away though from the one and only Shinki I have seen and touched as we are splitting hairs here. My experience with Shinki is far less than that of @Superfluous.

    The brown FQHH used on my Teamster is also very nice - flexible with a nice feel but significantly heavier than the others, probably due to being packed with waxes, etc. I used to own a black vintage (tumbled?) FQHH HWM that was stiff as as a saddle. The mid-weight seal jerky HH used to make my Mulligan is less flexible and doesn't drape as well as any of the Vicenza jackets I have tried on.

    The point I am trying to make is there is significant variance from one batch of the same type of hide to another. Anyhow, my bias is Vicenza and brown FQHH. Mark Twain said it best: "It ain't what you don't know that gets you into trouble. It's what you know for sure that just ain't so." ;)
     
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  16. Robbie79

    Robbie79 One Too Many

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    1,400
    Hello all,
    OK, thanks a lot for your time and help!! You convinced me to contact Simmons Bilt as the Shinki is a) not feeling like plastic, b) is high quality and should be the same like RMC and other jacket makers offer, c) Simmons Bilt offer same quality as Aero, d) Simmons Bilt offer the Shinki jackets to a very attractive price compared to all other Shinki maker (due to Brexit the exchange rate is also attractive and I live in the EU). I guess I'm going for a Simmons Bilt made of Red/Brown or even a Red/Brown/Black which Himel Bros offer and which I really like - here is the link and I hope they can offer it: (http://i227.photobucket.com/albums/.../Jackets/HimelHeron1_zps75e25493.jpg~original). What do you think? Is this a good choice for a kind of holy grail jacket? I hope I will get a reply by SB soon :)
    Thank you again for your help!!
    Kind regards,
    Robbie
     
  17. Superfluous

    Superfluous My Mail is Forwarded Here

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    IMHO, the words "holy grail" and "Simmons Bilt" are antithetical and should never appear in the same sentence. Similarly, the words "good investment" and "ponzi scheme" are antithetical and should never appear in the same sentence.

    Shinki is arguably to horsehide what A5 Japanese Kobe is to steak. I would never buy an A5 Japanese Kobe steak prepared by Outback Steakhouse. Rather, if I am going to pay for and eat an A5 Japanese Kobe steak, I am going to buy it from an elite steakhouse so as to ensure that the preparation is commensurate with the quality of the raw material. Likewise, if I am going to purchase a "holy grail" jacket made from Shinki HH, I am going to purchase it from an elite manufacturer so as to ensure that the quality of the manufacturing and craftsmanship is commensurate with the quality of the raw material.
     
  18. ButteMT61

    ButteMT61

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    ^^ that was hella funny man!
     
  19. ton312

    ton312

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    SB makes a fine jacket. I've owned two and they were very well built, to the same standard as any of the other makers I have owned. I know they are not viewed favorably around here but based solely on the finished product I found zero fault with either jacket that I had.
     
  20. Superfluous

    Superfluous My Mail is Forwarded Here

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    Look closely at the details . . . the stitching, hardware and craftsmanship . . . the difference is palpable.

    Himel:

    [​IMG]

    SB:

    [​IMG]
     

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