As much as I love denim, it really isn’t my main love. It’s more like a comic relief character, actually. I got into the raw denim world sort of by accident and it was really a by-product of getting into quality jackets and shoes. The topic of today’s review was my first truly epic clothing purchase. At the time I bought this jacket 4 years ago, it was four times more expensive than anything else that I had previously purchased. Receiving this jacket felt like Christmas, my birthday, and Halloween all rolled into one (I really love Halloween) and yet, as the title indicates, I sold this jacket. What went wrong and what can you do to avoid the same mistakes that I made?
The jacket was a bad idea from the start and most of the blame falls on me. I had been researching leather jackets for almost 2 and a half years before I made this purchase. I lurked on and eventually joined forums that had significant leather jacket discussion threads such as the Iron Heart Forum and especially The Fedora Lounge. After so much time, I had figured out exactly the type of jacket I wanted- a cafe racer jacket made out of vegetable tanned horsehide from the Shinki tannery in Himeji, Japan. Preferably, the jacket would be made by either The Real McCoy’s Buco line or David Himel and his small team from Himel Bros. Leather. Unfortunately, there were a few problems. Firstly, Shinki is the most expensive jacket leather in the world according to many sources. Adding to that is the fact that The Real McCoys and Himel Bros. are also quite expensive. Finally, there was the fact that I wanted a brown leather jacket and The Real McCoys did not make their J-100 cafe racer in brown at the time. Sure, I could have been patient and saved up more, but honestly, I’m still about as good at waiting for something as a kid on Christmas Eve. I saw on The Fedora Lounge that a relatively new maker called Diamond Dave was making J-100 jackets out of Shinki leather for a very reasonable price. I decided to pull the trigger and as is obvious now, made quite a big mistake.
Let’s start with the things I did right, though. I don’t want this article to give the impression that I hate this jacket or the company that produced it. First of all, the ordering process was a pleasure. Dave was great to work with and very communicative. As with most jacket makers, he asked me to provide my body measurements and gave nicely detailed instructions on how to do so. He also provided me with a pretty nice selection of leathers to choose from. It only took about a month for the jacket to be completed and he does make the jackets himself, which is pretty darn cool. He even sent me a few pics of the jacket before he mailed it to me which was a nice touch. Going with a one man brand definitely made the process feel very special.
One other thing that I do not regret is choosing to buy a café racer jacket, especially a J-100. The timeless simplicity of this jacket makes it eminently cool and it works with so many different jeans, pants, shirts, boots, shoes, etc that you really can wear it with pretty much anything, except a propeller beanie or a pair of spats because.. why? I haven’t bought another jacket of this style, but trust me, I will definitely buy another one eventually.
The other part of this purchase that I absolutely nailed was the leather choice… almost. Dave’s normal leather at this time was a chrome-tanned Horween leather I believe, but he did have a supply of Shinki leather that I felt like I had to take advantage of. To this day, all but one of my leather jackets have been made of Shinki and all 3 that I own currently are Shinki. In my opinion, this is the best jacket leather in the world by a country or a city mile, but obviously this is an opinion. That said, I was extremely impressed by the leather quality when I received the jacket and over time, it did begin to age beautifully as expected. On the other hand, there were several negative factors that I could just not get over and these were the reasons I ended up selling this jacket.
Remember how I said I almost nailed the leather choice? You, should. I mentioned it the previous paragraph. Hopefully you are paying attention purple monkey dishwasher. Well, the leather itself is gorgeous, but the color is not my favorite. This Seal/Chocolate brown color is nice, but it’s very basic and dare I say, a little boring. Shinki leather, despite being less grainy than most horsehide leathers at the beginning of its life, has a brilliant depth of color that no other leather that I have seen has… unless it’s in this color. This basic Seal color has no depth or complexity to the color at all and as such, I found myself gravitating to both the lighter and darker shades of Shinki and I now own an extremely dark brown and a couple of much lighter brown jackets instead.
The color, however, was minor compared to my other issues with the jacket. The next issue was the fit. From the pictures, it seems to fit pretty well and it does fit well, but not as well as I would have liked. Overall, it is just slightly too large for me. People have actually criticized me for liking my jackets too small, but that is my personal preference and it’s how I like my jackets. This jacket from Diamond Dave and an Alexander Leathers/Simmons Bilt collab with Iron Heart are two jackets that I purchased that were made from the measurements I provided of my own body. Both times, the jacket came out too large. The sleeves and chest especially are just a bit too big here and for a slim, sleek jacket like this, it did not really work for me. In defense of Diamond Dave, he was WAY closer than Alexander/Simmons Bilt were. That jacket was so big that my chest and the jacket pockets were in two different area codes. This Diamond Dave jacket was much closer to fitting right.
For quite a lot of people, this would have been a perfect fit and a lot of people on different forums told me so. At the end of the day, this was not something that I can really blame the manufacturer for. He did do an admirable job in terms of sizing. I have since learned the exact specs I would like my jackets to be made to and now provide the measurements I would like the jacket to be built to rather than providing my body measurements to the maker. This allows me to size the jacket how I like rather than hoping that the company making the jacket likes to size things the way I like to. With me being a young 20-something in denial of being a hipster and them mostly being in their 30’s to 50’s we rarely have the same idea about sizing.
However, one thing I can blame the manufacturer for is the construction of the jacket. It’s not bad, but it’s by no means great. Of course, some of the stitching is excellent, but some of it is a little bit sloppy. The chest pockets in particular are really not that neat or sharp. There are a lot of examples in the photos of the stitching creating creases and pull marks in the leather that detract from the clean look of the jacket. Overall, it is not poorly made and would likely outlast me, but it does not feel expertly crafted and that never sat right with me. The incredible craftsmanship of brands like Himel Brothers, The Real McCoys, and Goodwear was what I was really after in the first place and that was not what I had received with this jacket.
Over time, I became less and less happy with the my J-100. I got quite desperate to the point where I actually made posts defending the company when it was attacked on forums to try to convince myself that I was happy with the jacket, all the while lusting after jackets from other brands that were what I had wanted in the first place. I purchased this jacket because of the low price it was being offered at. At the time, I was too impatient to wait for what I really wanted and thought I would be satisfied with something that was nearly what I wanted. For many people, this jacket would be more than good enough. I, however, am the type of person that really wants to own the pinnacle example of the item I like.
However, I have learned over time that I will not be satisfied unless I buy exactly the item I want, even if it is expensive. If I can afford it, I will get it. If I cannot afford it, then I will move on completely as I should have done in this case. For example, I would love to own a 1968-69 Dodge/Plymouth B Body such as a Charger, Roadrunner, or Super Bee. These have been my dream cars for years, but they are far too expensive and impractical for me to afford right now. I am not going to buy a 1971 B Body, even if it were cheaper because I think those are uglier than Snookie kissing Kim Kardashian’s silicone-injected ass. I will not buy a Chevelle fastback, a Mustang, Duster, Dart, Impala, Demon, Camaro, AMX, Torino, Abrams, Challenger, Tiger II, or even a Town and Country. I would rather never own my dream car or anything like it than buy something close to it because I know that I will have just wasted my money and will never be satisfied.
The point of all this is that I don’t believe that people should settle for less. That doesn’t mean that I don’t think that people should buy a jacket from Diamond Dave. If you see no issues with my jacket, then you will be more than thrilled with his products. I am perfectly happy with whatever wine the waiter suggests at a restaurant, but I know that a true wine connoisseur would drop his monocle into his diamond-encrusted caviar glass that his butler had just brought to him if he heard me say that. The saying ‘Different strokes for different folks’ certainly applies here. That said, if you do have your heart set on something, do not settle for less. Save your money and be patient. I was much happier when I followed those words of advice and I can assure you that you will be as well. As for the leather jackets I have now that I am completely satisfied with, we’ll cover those in some future articles.