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What's ya'll opinion/experience on Lewis leathers sheepskin?

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15,397
I did not know this. I just thought sheep was thin, weak, and flimsy. I hope to one day own a Lewis. Seems to be a Rock n Roll and motorcycle icon. I always thought the veg tanned cow was the most desired hide they had to offer.

Thanks for the great review. I really hope to see more LL's pop up here, new and old (especially patched up ones). Hope to see more pics of your jacket as it ages.

Nope. Sheepskin is a tough hide and was used a lot in British MC gear manufacturing, primarily due to availability of the animal but also because it is a good leather. I'm sure @Edward can say more about it but many 50's to 60's British motorcycle jackets were made in sheepskin which is responsible for that unique fade they got going on. You can't get sheep leather won't ever stiffen the way cowhide will when tanned at higher temperatures thus it can't be utilized for some of the products like belts, etc., as it will always remain soft.

It also tends to... Hard for me to find a word but it'll sorta turn to dust once completely dried out and the garment will get worn through, rather than crack open and flake away like cowhide and horsehide. It's another myth that cowhide / horsehide is more durable but in reality, all these jackets will last you about the same.

Lambskin is of course the same, only much thinner and weaker but I think crappy mall clothes industry is to be blamed for that as well as they shave the hide to insane thinness, thus everyone thinks lamb has no use in a serious leather jacket which just can't be the case.
 

GHT

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Nope. Sheepskin is a tough hide and was used a lot in British MC gear manufacturing, primarily due to availability of the animal but also because it is a good leather. I'm sure @Edward can say more about it but many 50's to 60's British motorcycle jackets were made in sheepskin which is responsible for that unique fade they got going on. You can't get sheep leather won't ever stiffen the way cowhide will when tanned at higher temperatures thus it can't be utilized for some of the products like belts, etc., as it will always remain soft.

It also tends to... Hard for me to find a word but it'll sorta turn to dust once completely dried out and the garment will get worn through, rather than crack open and flake away like cowhide and horsehide. It's another myth that cowhide / horsehide is more durable but in reality, all these jackets will last you about the same.

Lambskin is of course the same, only much thinner and weaker but I think crappy mall clothes industry is to be blamed for that as well as they shave the hide to insane thinness, thus everyone thinks lamb has no use in a serious leather jacket which just can't be the case.
sheep.jpg
Tell me about it!
 

Edward

Bartender
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23,545
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London, UK
Nope. Sheepskin is a tough hide and was used a lot in British MC gear manufacturing, primarily due to availability of the animal but also because it is a good leather. I'm sure @Edward can say more about it but many 50's to 60's British motorcycle jackets were made in sheepskin which is responsible for that unique fade they got going on. You can't get sheep leather won't ever stiffen the way cowhide will when tanned at higher temperatures thus it can't be utilized for some of the products like belts, etc., as it will always remain soft.

It also tends to... Hard for me to find a word but it'll sorta turn to dust once completely dried out and the garment will get worn through, rather than crack open and flake away like cowhide and horsehide. It's another myth that cowhide / horsehide is more durable but in reality, all these jackets will last you about the same.

Lambskin is of course the same, only much thinner and weaker but I think crappy mall clothes industry is to be blamed for that as well as they shave the hide to insane thinness, thus everyone thinks lamb has no use in a serious leather jacket which just can't be the case.

British leathers from the 60s and earlier did often tend to be much lighter. Especially pre-war. That said, the pre-war stuff was also notoriously fragile, generally believed to be one reason so few British jackets from the pre-war period have survived. I'd still be wary of sheepskin from an abrasion pov, but it's not going to rip on impact the way 'fashion' lamb will.

Re Wested, I would not expect their sheepskin to be close to this, though I've not handled the "striated lamb", which may be different. Bear in mind Ford wore a whole bunch of these jackets for a few months' filming only - and lamb was chosen as much so he wouldn't overheat in the jungle or the desert as anything else! I can recommend their goat as a lighter leather, though.
 

navetsea

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maybe in cold weather country their sheep also grow thick skinned and much stronger, the sheepskin I experience here in my tropical country is quite thin skinned say 0.7-0.9mm and they also feel somewhat crispier than goat skin, very easy to dry out when not conditioned, if I wear this jacket often then I need to condition it 3x a year or something. my goatskin seems holding their tanning oil much better and stay supple even when they both similarly thin.
 

Marc mndt

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5,109
maybe in cold weather country their sheep also grow thick skinned and much stronger, the sheepskin I experience here in my tropical country is quite thin skinned say 0.7-0.9mm and they also feel somewhat crispier than goat skin, very easy to dry out when not conditioned, if I wear this jacket often then I need to condition it 3x a year or something. my goatskin seems holding their tanning oil much better and stay supple even when they both similarly thin.
Here's an interesting post about the quality of different types of sheepskin:

https://www.vintageleatherjackets.o...its-not-lamb-goat-or-common-sheep-skin.23188/
 

Canuck Panda

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I will work up my courage after a few drinks and wash my green sheep Lewis, and dry it in the sun.
https://www.thefedoralounge.com/threads/wash-your-jacket-before-and-after-pic.97592/

This is the only way to know for sure if Lewis Sheepskin is truly moto worthy. Which I am 99 percent confident that it is.

FWIW, I already did the Torture-my-Vanson thing with the Lewis Brown Horse. It's basically a brown version of the Vanson CW. Very utility leather, not interesting, flat no depth painted finish. But tough as nail, and softer and easier to wear than all other "high end" leather.

Lamb is baby Sheep, so skin is thinner.
Pony is smaller Horse, so skin is thinner.
Calf is baby Cow, so skin is thinner.

A fully grown adult animal, will have tough enough skin to endure what life has to offer. Sheepskin is no exception. I bought into the whole stiff horsehide is better thing for a long time, it's about time the real truth comes forth.
 
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15,397
A fully grown adult animal, will have tough enough skin to endure what life has to offer. Sheepskin is no exception. I bought into the whole stiff horsehide is better thing for a long time, it's about time the real truth comes forth.

We ought to make a thread about that. There's been a lot of nonsense said over the years regarding leather and all this stuff, which proved to be downright bs.

Horsehide being so much better / thicker / stiffer / whatever than cowhide, for example, while literally nobody can tell a difference. Or Goat being ignore while it makes the best leather ever. But I'm kinda happy about that 'cause goats rock and I don't want to see them being killed so that we'd wear stuff made out of their skin.
 

Edward

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We ought to make a thread about that. There's been a lot of nonsense said over the years regarding leather and all this stuff, which proved to be downright bs.

Horsehide being so much better / thicker / stiffer / whatever than cowhide, for example, while literally nobody can tell a difference. Or Goat being ignore while it makes the best leather ever. But I'm kinda happy about that 'cause goats rock and I don't want to see them being killed so that we'd wear stuff made out of their skin.

Globally, goat is the most widely eaten meat, so if we plan thing properly, using the skin for leather is simple efficiency! :)
 

Canuck Panda

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Don’t dry it in the sun!
Dry it in a cool room.

ps- the green sheep is by far my favorite Lewis offering.

I know.. the drying in the sun is the part I am also hesitant to do, I need a few shots before doing this. TBH I don't have success with drying veg tan leather in the sun. Most of my chrome tanned utility leathers have no problem taking this kind of abuse. I think that's why some vintage Californian moto jackets were specifically advertised as "Californian Chrome Tanned Steerhide".

British Racing Green is also my favorite Lewis sheep leather. It looks almost black most of the time, but shines when the sun hits it. Very sophisticated. But Lewis is a moto brand, and this MK1 was a repro of the original moto jacket. The Lewis brown horse went through the sun dry without any issues. I am confident the green sheep will too. A leap of faith to show just how awesome sheepskin is.

We ought to make a thread about that. There's been a lot of nonsense said over the years regarding leather and all this stuff, which proved to be downright bs.

Horsehide being so much better / thicker / stiffer / whatever than cowhide, for example, while literally nobody can tell a difference. Or Goat being ignore while it makes the best leather ever. But I'm kinda happy about that 'cause goats rock and I don't want to see them being killed so that we'd wear stuff made out of their skin.
Globally, goat is the most widely eaten meat, so if we plan thing properly, using the skin for leather is simple efficiency! :)

My only experience with full grain goatskin was through 5Star jackets. Its relatively thick and soft, but the finishes are painted and boring. Still on the hunt for aniline goatskin jacket that won't break the bank.

FWIW, I have three goat suede Golden Bear jackets, two USA made and one China made. While thickness were about the same, only the USA made ones survived through years of washing and drying without any problems. The china one did not shrink but stiff up everytime it was dried, and would take enough wears to soften, but then its time to get cleaned and repeat.

I will gather all the info and test results I have, it will be a while because it takes time to measure-soak-dry-measure-record. But horse is not unicorn. Shinki or CXL don't have super powers. I honestly would rate Lewis' sheepskin higher than the two horses.
 

Marc mndt

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5,109
Overall, I would rate the Lewis Sheepskin HIGHER than Shinki aniline, or Horween Chromexcel, or Vicenza / Victoria Tannery Group, or Badalassi.

I concur. Today I received this 70s Lewis Leathers Super Monza in sheepskin and it really is something.

Left: 70s sheepskin Right 70s cow

180A65FD-EDC5-4829-AFC0-A646F5D9D418.jpeg


A4875979-60C9-4615-9E05-161F17C683E5.jpeg


It's a lot more substantial than Eastman's capeskin. Great color depth too. I'll share more pics this weekend.
 

Canuck Panda

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Sorry gents, I came to my senses after cooling off (aka I chickened out) and no sheep will be soaked and baked under the sun today. It was just one of those real bad days at work and I losted it earlier, I apologize.
The sheepskin is awesome enough I believe it deserves better.
Thanks Marc for sharing your sheepskin experience. They are something really nice eh!
 

Marc mndt

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5,109
70s Sheepskin (Super Monza) vs 70s cow (Phantom)

56A6E4AA-131C-4167-BE27-02E088A947A1.jpeg
00C5B86B-6D52-4B97-A45A-2F182A0F2505.jpeg


The sheepskin is thicker and heavier than the cow. It also has greater color depth (darker black).

Overall, the sheepskin is smoother than the cow:

1F5BC2F1-CBDB-4F71-85BD-B38DCC70317B.jpeg
B6F839B7-4A16-4D82-BEAA-83F95FAD6609.jpeg
2AB118F9-53D2-42C1-B09C-9BB196819BC1.jpeg


...apart from some panels which show those quintessential sheepskin stretch marks:

A6EEDD45-CB1E-4480-89A7-99184E7CC3B9.jpeg

9888322E-D97B-41E9-AA39-E55A7F270717.jpeg


The sleeve rolls are more pronounced on the sheepskin.

B06AD8EF-5DE2-4E82-BCA6-593E6D4AA31B.jpeg


329A3D3D-E766-40F5-9806-C2E3FAD3AB6E.jpeg

C6389B4E-A553-4F24-8FEE-78510160022A.jpeg
 
Last edited:

Edward

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I had no clue... Rarely anything in stores here is goat meat, just cow and pork. Huh!

Yes, it's not massively popular here in the UK either (aside from various diaspora communities), so it surprised me to learn that too! My best gloves are a pair of Helstons MC gloves in goat, lovely hide. It does seem goat doesn't patina as quickly as many other hides (possibly the way it reacts with chrome tanning? I think all my goat is chrome tanned, not sure), but I often prefer it that way, especially with black. Much like black denim, I prefer my black leather to stay black rather than fade.
 

Canuck Panda

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2,255
70s Sheepskin (Super Monza) vs 70s cow (Phantom)

View attachment 346219 View attachment 346214

The sheepskin is thicker and heavier than the cow. It also has greater color depth (darker black).

Overall, the sheepskin is smoother than the cow:

View attachment 346215 View attachment 346216 View attachment 346217

...apart from some panels which show those quintessential sheepskin stretch marks:

View attachment 346218
View attachment 346223

The sleeve rolls are more pronounced on the sheepskin.

View attachment 346221

View attachment 346222
View attachment 346220
Thank you for the compare photos!

The Monza and the Phantom are excellent choices, I also prefer them over the lightning design.
 

Canuck Panda

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2,255
Yes, it's not massively popular here in the UK either (aside from various diaspora communities), so it surprised me to learn that too! My best gloves are a pair of Helstons MC gloves in goat, lovely hide. It does seem goat doesn't patina as quickly as many other hides (possibly the way it reacts with chrome tanning? I think all my goat is chrome tanned, not sure), but I often prefer it that way, especially with black. Much like black denim, I prefer my black leather to stay black rather than fade.
Goat can be tasty and it cost less. But it takes more work to cook them right. Beef and pork are just easier to do after the daily grind.
While most goatskin jacket we see are the painted or flat color ones, I’ve read on GW site that he offers aniline goat. Waiting patiently for those pics to show up here…
 

Marc mndt

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5,109
Goat can be tasty and it cost less. But it takes more work to cook them right. Beef and pork are just easier to do after the daily grind.
While most goatskin jacket we see are the painted or flat color ones, I’ve read on GW site that he offers aniline goat. Waiting patiently for those pics to show up here…
Thedi's goat is also aniline vegetable tanned.

This one for example
 

Edward

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23,545
Location
London, UK
Thedi's goat is also aniline vegetable tanned.

This one for example

Aero's goat is veg-tanned too. I have seen one that was veg-tanned seal over russet that wore to a really nice, reddish shade at high wear points, but only very slowly. One thing I really like about goat - keeps it look sharper for longer, while still breaking in nicely. Definitely though not for those who want the worn look coming in faster. I wish somebody could come up with an indigo denim that would similarly keep its uniform colour for longer!
 

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