Wednesday, November 4, 2009

1930's Jackets: The Perfect Horsehide






Part of making perfect jackets is learning about the materials that make up he bricks and mortar of vintage jackets. Another part is about learning the techniques used to put these unique materials together. These are not the same techniques that are used today in mass produced garments. The great challenges of the last two years have been about both the materials and the unique requirements necessary to put them together in an excellent jacket. Finding the perfect leather has been a global search. I have looked on my local doorstep and overseas searching high and low for the perfect horsehide and goatskin. The requirement was simple
: find tanneries that produced an ethical quality product that was made the way leather was produced pre-1940 and also did the least amount of "harm" to mother earth. My search was paid in spades. The horsehide I have is bark tanned in a solution for months, recreating a tough tear resistant leather that is a near perfect match for early horsehide. It is super strong and yet it is supple. It is hand staked and shrunk to create a perfect hide top grain. The horses are deadstock and therefore the hides are unblemished by mistreatment or transportation. My tanneries are subject to strict 1st world regulations that produce the finest quality leather with the least amount of impact. Interestingly this leather emulates early 30s leather so well that the leather had to be spray finished, the same as in the 30s. Early vegetable tanned leather did not take black dyes well as I learned speaking with my friend Wolfgang, the Chief chemist at Dominion Tanning throughout the 1950s and 1960s. On early jackets scuffs and scrapes often revealed the underlying natural color of the leather. Check out my latest versions of early 20s and 30s jackets!





20 comments:

  1. you already made a grizzly!? they are all looking really good.

    just out of curiosity, what does it mean when you say the horses are 'deadstock'?

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  2. In discussions with the tanner..he told me the animals are at the end of their lives or have died in the field (i.e. deadstock) Now this is communication and translation. But I can say that the animals are very very large (full grown) and without bangs and blemish (indicating very good treatment). The reflection of the quality of the skin is the treatment of the animal.

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  3. Amazing jackets, David. What kind of zipper do you have on the grizzly?

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  4. it is a replica 1920s cotton taped grommet zipper...I am still waiting on the grommet set so the jacket is not quite complete...oh well

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  5. In black! Yay, exactly what I've been looking for...nah, not the grizzly, t'other one. Either with zip or buttons, it's a winner. And I'm a 38 too!

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  6. Miles
    if you are looking for that one in buttons i can make one for you just contact me at himelator@hotmail.com so we can discuss it

    best
    David.

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  7. I really like the black button up jacket.
    If you plan to go into production, will you offer a brown version ?

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  8. I really like the black button up jacket. If you go into production do you plan to do a brown jacket ?
    Can you give an estimate of the price ?
    Thanks, John

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  9. John..
    Im trying not to discuss business on this site but you can always email me regarding jackets at himelator@hotmail.com. Im still working on my website design so apologies in advance...I can make the jacket in goatskin brown.

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  10. hi david
    i've been following your blog for a while as beeing myself a vintage fanatic for years .i just started my blog i think you might like it i've been collecting for almost 20 years now . i've just decided to share my passion mostly as a way to improve my writing skills.i'm french from Paris and i've moved to the USA in 94 .i think we're surfing the same wave here and i'll be more than happy if you'll give my modest blog a try and sign as a follower [maybe]......http:/segui-riveted.blogspot.com
    hope to hear from you soon ......i'd like to get my hands on one of your jackets man !!

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  11. I put a link to your blog on my blog links..nice photos...as for one of my jackets..they are for sale..and since Im not quite set yet I am flexible on price until I get a rep!

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  12. very nice!!!.... really incredible pieces!!.. thanks a lot for sharing..

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  13. Just goes to show you how far a good investment in leather can go! Not only does it last a lifetime, but leather protects against road rash like no other.

    -bikerhiway.com

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  14. You know the hundreds of jackets I own average around 80 years old...they never seem to wear out (could be a self fulfilling prophecy but I doubt it) I tested my veg tanned horsehide for strength against a 1970 Brooks Chrome tanned jacket and you would be amazed. My horsehide was 3 to 4 times stronger than the 1970s steerhide. I was amazed too!

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  15. Wow, you have absolutely no idea what this does for me. I'm so, so excited to see you doing what I've wanted to do for so long. Obsessing over the same details, searching for answers to the same identical questions, marveling at how lost the modern world of leather and fit is, and wondering if I'd ever encounter another soul who could at least appreciate my passions and possibly answer some questions. But this, you're making these things! It's fantastic. Man, If I ever make it up north, I would be thrilled to hang and talk sometime. I've got this phenomenal 30's horsehide coat I would love to pick your brain about. I've been trying to find out more about the hide and how it was finished. It's almost deadstock, and it's got the most amazing look and feel to it... yeah I'm really gonna start rambling now haha. Anyway, great work! - Craig yearofthedragon@gmail.com

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  16. I am almost incredulous when one of my friends shows me his new "motorcycle jacket".
    Inevitably,it is one of those paper thin,lambskin
    knock-offs from "Leather warehouse"or one of the horrible "Franken"jackets sewn from many pices of discarded hides.And it only cost him 199.99!
    Or worse,a $600.00 "designer" jacket made of heavilly corrected goatskin.I quit trying to explain to them about leather quality years ago.
    This cheap,crappy offshore garbage has lead to the virtual demise of tanneries and skilled craftsmen in North America.So,for goodness sake,
    buy stuff made here! Or at least in Britain where they still take pride in a good garment.
    Happy motoring!

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  17. I love Europe (I also have an E.U. passport) because there are countries, towns, villages and nooks and crannies that still make things regardless of cost and trend. There are cheeses, meats, wines, liquors and yes leather still made the way thing were made 400 years ago, and those makers and buyers still value those things. North America has almost lost the benefits it gained from being open to European immigration 100 years ago. As large powerful companies master the art of junkification no one cares about garments or food and knows whats what anywhere.

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  18. David: Can you, please, tell me what the black/yellow label reads ? I believe it is the same that is in a old horsehide coat i have.Thank you in advance. Juan from Mexico.

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  19. This is a jacket that I made....that is a typical early commercially available horsehide label...send me pics to my hotmail address of your jacket and maybe I can help you

    best

    dh

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