By Rich Kane
By Joel Beers
By LP Hastings
By Dave Barton
By Patrice Wirth Marsters
By Erin DeWitt
By Taylor Hamby
By LP Hastings
Now that the leather jacket has undergone what has to be its squillionth resurgence, it’s no longer all that difficult tracking one down, whereas before you had to cross your fingers for that serendipitous vintage find. Its reemergence probably has something to do with another reemergence: the return of grunge fashion (see: flannel; unkempt hair; a contrived, conscious attempt at not looking like you tried; etc.) that no one really wants to accept as “grunge.”
But everyone’s always looking for that perfect leather jacket—the one that doesn’t look cheesy or too trendy and doesn’t cost a fortune. Lofty boutiques and high-end shops such as Barney’s Co-op have long carried great leather pieces by Mike & Chris that are exactly what you’re looking for, but can cost upward of $900.
Then for some, there’s the whole moral dilemma of wearing leather (like me, the shameful vegetarian with a beeeeautiful buttery-soft Ben Sherman leather jacket I picked up in London last autumn) when they crave the look of a simple leather coat over a dress, a flannel or a T-shirt, or paired with skinny jeans, a look that gals like Agyness Deyn have popularized.
Many think fake leather is also environmentally unfriendly. Though vinyl (PVC) was once the only toxic, carcinogenic, dioxin-releasing, non-biodegradable alternative for faux-leather, polyurethane is a much better option. PU is flexible, breathable and made from natural resin (which means it’s biodegradable), and even if you don’t care about any of that, vinyl “leather” makes for a terrible fake anyway.
There are a couple of cruelty-free, wallet-friendly alternatives out there if you search intently, ones that look better than those Target and H&M shiny “leather” finds. My favorite is the “Super Bad Bomber Jacket” (pictured) by perennial favorite OBEY. A bomber-style jacket made with PU leather, this piece has what most faux-leather jackets lack: heavy rib cuffs and neck, detailed pockets, hems and, most important, a non-plastic sheen to it. There’s even a polar-fleece lining to keep you as warm as real leather would. It’s a cut that seems to be perpetually hip, so you’ll be able to wear it for years. And it’s totally affordable at $80. You can find it online at Huntington Beach-based site 80spurple.com.
The second jacket is the motorcycle jacket, which has a more trendy cropped cut and has been favored by many of Hollywood’s young rich (see: Kelly Osbourne, Kate Moss). It has popped up in places such as Topshop and the Gap, but I’ve never seen one as affordable as the piece available at BonaDrag.com for $75, a vintage style with 3/4-length sleeves and plenty of zippers. Wear it over something frilly and femme, or play up the biker theme with graphic tees and jeans.