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What determines back length?

torfjord

Call Me a Cab
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2,656
Location
Sweden
As the title says, I’ve been thinking about what factors determine back length. We usually measure back length from where the collar attach down to the hem. I realised there is a lot more to the story when I started to compare a few of my jackets.

Left to right, top to bottom: thedi buffalo, Thedi horse, Thedi goat, Vanson, Oakbrook:

005622BD-30D6-4FFC-8724-B7461800BB4D.jpeg


As you all can see when studying these pictures, the bottom three looks to have the shortest body length, with the Oakbrook being the shortest.

However, when we compare the measurement of the back length, things start to get complicated (jackets shown in same order as above):

34FBFECA-8686-4415-8524-C6F14EC1B6EC.jpeg


One of the things that stand out is that the Oakbrook is not the shortest if we look at the numbers. Another thing is that the Thedi horse is actually a little shorter than the Oakbrook but looks longer.

Anyone else noticed this and have an explanation for this phenomenon?
 

mvilla

A-List Customer
Messages
497
Location
Bristol, UK
The way I see is that if you're having a moving reference, you'll have a moving threshold. Which means: if where you're starting your measurement, i.e. your collar, is moving higher or lower, your end at the hem will be impacted. Therefore, if I take my Schott 618, for instance, the collar is cut in a wider, rounder way, and its seam, which I use as a reference to measure back length, sits lower than on my Aero, which has a shallower cut for the collar. That'll happen with several variations of the pattern if you decide to use other features as the starting point of your measurement.
 

MrProper

My Mail is Forwarded Here
Messages
3,996
Location
Europe
As the title says, I’ve been thinking about what factors determine back length. We usually measure back length from where the collar attach down to the hem. I realised there is a lot more to the story when I started to compare a few of my jackets.

Left to right, top to bottom: thedi buffalo, Thedi horse, Thedi goat, Vanson, Oakbrook:

View attachment 517292

As you all can see when studying these pictures, the bottom three looks to have the shortest body length, with the Oakbrook being the shortest.

However, when we compare the measurement of the back length, things start to get complicated (jackets shown in same order as above):

View attachment 517293

One of the things that stand out is that the Oakbrook is not the shortest if we look at the numbers. Another thing is that the Thedi horse is actually a little shorter than the Oakbrook but looks longer.

Anyone else noticed this and have an explanation for this phenomenon?
I have noticed this as well and my theory is that this is related to the neck hole. If this is cut out further in the back, the jacket can quickly look longer, even though the measurements are the same.
 

mvilla

A-List Customer
Messages
497
Location
Bristol, UK
I have noticed this as well and my theory is that this is related to the neck hole. If this is cut out further in the back, the jacket can quickly look longer, even though the measurements are the same.
Yeah, I noticed it all after we talked, honestly... It made a lot of sense
 

torfjord

Call Me a Cab
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2,656
Location
Sweden
I have noticed this as well and my theory is that this is related to the neck hole. If this is cut out further in the back, the jacket can quickly look longer, even though the measurements are the same.

That’s what I thought too, but I now believe there might be something else that I don’t understand or haven’t found yet. I tried to measure the inset of the neck hole like this:

IMG_8742.jpeg


And could see no super clear pattern (not enough to explain the difference at least):

9085DE3D-66DD-4AFB-AC22-B5435B8FCC22.jpeg


Thedi buffalo measure 57 mm, horse 51 mm, goat 55 mm, Vanson 55 mm (sold the Oakbrook so no measurements on it). Just a 4 mm difference between the horse compared to the goat and Vanson where as visually they look about 2-3 cm shorter. It sort of works to explain the difference between the Vanson and the horse thedi but not the difference between the goat and the horse.
 

Will Zach

I'll Lock Up
Messages
4,541
Location
SoFlo
One explanation may be that the jacket does not rest on you by the bottom of the collar; it rests by the shoulders (unless it's an Aero, just kidding).

So the measurement from the bottom of the collar to the hem is meaningless.

How about "drawing" a straight line between shoulder seams on the back, and measuring the distance between this line and the hem down the center?

Would this correspond better to how short or long the jacket looks on you?

Sigh, nobody will do such a measurement in real life even if it works.
 

mvilla

A-List Customer
Messages
497
Location
Bristol, UK
That’s what I thought too, but I now believe there might be something else that I don’t understand or haven’t found yet. I tried to measure the inset of the neck hole like this:

View attachment 517354

And could see no super clear pattern (not enough to explain the difference at least):

View attachment 517355

Thedi buffalo measure 57 mm, horse 51 mm, goat 55 mm, Vanson 55 mm (sold the Oakbrook so no measurements on it). Just a 4 mm difference between the horse compared to the goat and Vanson where as visually they look about 2-3 cm shorter. It sort of works to explain the difference between the Vanson and the horse thedi but not the difference between the goat and the horse.
Measuring like that, your adding another reference: the shoulders. The shoulder tip might be positioned higher or lower, depending on the slope
 

roadking04

Practically Family
Messages
938
Location
The Rock 'n Roll Capital
I had a Vanson model E and a Schott 618 when I ordered my current riding jacket from Johnson leather. The Vanson was around 26" back length and the Schott was 25". I love the Schott and gave away the Vanson. The Vanson covered the top of my jeans when riding perfectly with room to spare. My only gripe with the 618 was that it BARELEY covered the top of my jeans when riding.

When I was discussing my measurements and such with Allan, I requested a 26" back length for starters. He sent out the mock up and went over the pictures. I was shocked when he said he was going to DROP the collar and make the back length 24". I was very worried over this measurement thinking my back length would be way too short.

When I received my jacket, it fit perfectly in the back and covered the top of my jeans perfectly. All this to say, I think pattern and collar/neck opening have a big role to play in back length.
 

torfjord

Call Me a Cab
Messages
2,656
Location
Sweden
One explanation may be that the jacket does not rest on you by the bottom of the collar; it rests by the shoulders (unless it's an Aero, just kidding).

So the measurement from the bottom of the collar to the hem is meaningless.

How about "drawing" a straight line between shoulder seams on the back, and measuring the distance between this line and the hem down the center?

Would this correspond better to how short or long the jacket looks on you?

Sigh, nobody will do such a measurement in real life even if it works.

That sounded like a good idea. I tried measuring length from the shoulder to the hem like this:

IMG_8763.jpeg


Unfortunately that couldn’t explain the length differences either:

EEEC68FB-6892-4301-BE9C-8F01B215A64A.jpeg


The Vanson and the thedi horse has the same length from the shoulder so it does not explain the perceived length difference.
 
Messages
11,023
Location
SoCal
I feel that it has to do with jacket fit, collar hole shape, and how it rests on the shoulders. We tend to measure from the seam that lays differently with various makers. GW is a great example where the back always measures shorter, but the jackets look great. Some jackets have a forward slant and some are straight up & down...others rotated back- all effect the measured length. The garments look different when worn 3D vs laid flat to measure. Volume is hard to account for as the same jacket will fit differently on a skinny vs larger person (even with similar height).
I have an acceptable “range” I go for.
 
Last edited:

Canuck Panda

I'll Lock Up
Messages
4,346
The magic of pattern design. I wish there’s a master rule that gives the same result every time but isn’t the case. This alone keeps all the brands in business

there will be a few brand/pattern block one will prefer over the others, and is only achieved by trial and errors Unfortunately.

fully custom with multiple fittings will take care of this, but the key is multiple fittings so the makers can swap out to different pattern blocks, similar to buying and selling jackets until fining a good fit.
 

photo2u

Call Me a Cab
Messages
2,136
Location
claremont california
Why reinvent the wheel? As our good friend Canuck pointed out, the pattern design is key in how the back length will drape. Tailors have been using practical measurements that are well-established. That includes measuring from the base of the collar as the point of measurement for back length.
 

torfjord

Call Me a Cab
Messages
2,656
Location
Sweden
Why reinvent the wheel? As our good friend Canuck pointed out, the pattern design is key in how the back length will drape. Tailors have been using practical measurements that are well-established. That includes measuring from the base of the collar as the point of measurement for back length.

The reason I wanted to find out if someone had any better idea is because when I realised back length standard measurement does not tell the full story. This makes custom orders a bit of a risky project to get the right back length.
 

photo2u

Call Me a Cab
Messages
2,136
Location
claremont california
I think the problem is more prevalent when the person is either short or long cuts. Many people also love to rock jackets that design with a purpose in mind. Personally, I like my motorcycle short. They fit me better when I am riding. Some people never ride and want a longer motorcycle jacket.
 

Canuck Panda

I'll Lock Up
Messages
4,346
@torfjord i think your Thedi buffalo and Thedi goat are patterns designed specifically for you, great fit on those two. You could technically just ask for the same fit but in different designs (cafe racer, xzip…etc) and get the same perfect fit results. But fit isn’t everything for me. your Thedi burgundy horse is my fav.

this actually make me realize why real custom jackets cost so much money. First step Is to try on a stock jacket. If that pattern doesn’t work then the next pattern try on. If that works but need different length then the final custom jacket can just be based on that with length changes. If it’s still not to liking then third fit jacket. Each fit process cost money But all towards a more detailed result. better Than just buying and selling jackets until finding one that fits imo, although that’s another type of fun on its own.

luck has a lot to do with finding the perfect fit patterns, like everything else in life. Some gets it in one shot while it takes a few more tries for others. Numbers only matters in the amount of cash burned through during the process, this is the unfortunate part.
 

jeo

One Too Many
Messages
1,933
Location
Philadelphia
I'm sure there are many influences on the back length. Back yoke (if present) to shoulder slope, to neck opening and probably more. There's also a difference when you measure flat to when worn and zipped vs. unzipped.

Because of this I think it's best to know your range as opposed to sticking to an exact measurement.
 

VansonRider

One of the Regulars
Messages
258
Shoulder rotation on the jacket will also change things up. If the shoulders are positioned forward then there will be more material in the back, and versa vise.
And then taper, a stronger taper to the waist could prevent the jacket from hanging over your hips, that would make the jacket look shorter, too.
 

Canuck Panda

I'll Lock Up
Messages
4,346
I understand now why the vintage measuring method/instruction includes the collar. Makes the most sense. Just like Nape sleeve length (center back to end of cuff).
 

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