Over two years ago, I went to Inspiration in Los Angeles for the sole reason of trying on Himel Brothers jackets. At the time, I was most interested in the Kensington café racer and Canuck car coat jackets. Partly as a joke, I tried on his Wolverine grizzly jacket. I expected to feel absolutely ridiculous in it, but instead completely fell in love with it. In fact, it was so great that my fiancé encouraged me to purchase it! To this day, it still her and my favorite item that I own and it has essentially become my signature clothing item. People have actually recognized me at events just because of that jacket.
It certainly stands out and I love it for that, but it can be a bit too much at times. I have been hankering after another jacket from Dave for quite some time, but was unsure which model to choose given just how many of his designs that I love. I actually came quite close at one point to purchasing the Mister Freedom Campus jacket due to the fact that I have really been taken with shawl collar/Cossack-style jackets ever since purchasing my Wolverine. I am not entirely sure what it is, but I feel like this style of jacket looks quite good on me and fits my body type well.
Fits perfectly and goes with everything
However, there were a few requirements I had that were not met by the Mister Freedom jacket. Firstly, I wanted a fairly neutral brown color and the cowhide of the Campus Jacket was too light, even after it was aged. Additionally, I wanted a jacket that I could easily chuck on and not have to think about at all. My grizzly does not quite fit this category and the leather and the short body of the MF jacket meant it would not fit that need either. Furthermore, the sleeves, as with all MFSC pieces, were far too long for me. Lastly, and most arbitrarily, I really wanted contrast stitching.
I can’t decide if the leather or the stitching is more beautiful
After mulling all the options, I decided that my best bet was to ask Dave if he had a model similar to this available. Fortunately for me, he said that he did and that he also had the leather that I wanted on the way. He had Ian from Nine Lives send me over a sample jacket and I gave Dave the modifications in size based off of that jacket and the exact specs including the choice of red/brown Shinki horsehide, lighter brown buttons, and light tan contrast stitching. Being able to choose and change all of these details was such a pleasure and it really shows why going custom is the best option when possible.
Dave finished the jacket in just over a month which was quicker than I was expecting. He also did not even ask me for a deposit this time, though that is likely because I am a repeat customer. He usually asks for at least a 50% deposit which is quite fair. Given a very poor recent experience with a certain denim company, it was refreshing to have Dave finish my order quickly and be so easy to work with. As many people know, Mr. Himel is not as easy going as guys like John Chapman, but he does make sure to get all of the details exactly how you want them and I love talking with and working with him. He is a true pleasure to deal with.
According to my uncle, these stunning buttons are made from tagua nut
The jacket arrived a little after the New Year and it was like a second Christmas for me. There were three things that jumped out at me as soon as I took the jacket out of the box (which was covered with a ‘Cards Against Humanity’ box (great touch, Dave). Firstly, the contrast stitching was perfect. Not too loud and noticeable, but definitely there. Secondly, these were the most beautiful buttons I had ever seen in my life. They are a light-medium brown with a diamond pattern in them as well as some textured lines in the pattern itself. The amount of detail in the buttons themselves was astounding and I still marvel at them every time I grab the jacket.
This is the closest thing to a ‘flaw’ with this jacket. That’s how good it is. Seriously.
The button holes are beautifully and tightly stitched
Thirdly, the hide itself was breathtaking. This is the 5th Shinki horse hide leather jacket that I have owned and the third in my current collection. It is easily the best hide that I have ever owned and by a fairly wide margin. This specific color and hide has the most stunning depth of color I have seen which is impressive considering how much I already prize this feature among Shinki leather hides. It is also rather variable in terms of grain, which I personally love. Parts are fairly smooth with other parts being more grainy. I love both characteristics in this jacket. I am not going to say that this is the best Shinki leather hide that I have ever seen, but it is up there for me and it is definitely the best that I personally own. This is a perfect example of why I, along with David Himel and many others believe that Shinki Hikaku’s vegetable tanned horsehide is the best jacket leather in the world.
The depth of color in this leather is too epic to be captured in photographs
The liner is perfectly attached – not hanging below, but perfectly lined up
The other important details include a beautiful khaki/olive color lining that Dave chose for me. I have to say that it looks perfect with the jacket, buttons, and stitching. In addition, it has an inner pocket on the left and most importantly, hand warmer pockets! Other than my peacoat which I cannot frequently wear, I did not have a jacket that had hand warmer pockets that are easy to use. The Wolverine has them, but they are not user friendly. These are very comfortable to use and it feels so great to have a jacket with these again after at least 6 years.
The King of leathers
The match made in heaven
Unsurprisingly, the quality is top notch and pretty much unbeatable in my personal opinion. The button holes are very cleanly stitched. The liner is attached beautifully and the buttons feel very solidly secured. Most importantly, the stitching on this jacket is absolutely gorgeous. Himel Bros. makes a point to stitch all jackets with 100% cotton thread, which is done much slower than stitching with polyester or poly-cotton thread. Perhaps as a result of this, the thread count is very high for a leather jacket. Some people do not care for this, which is fair, but I go crazier than Maria Carey during a New Year’s Eve performance when I see beautiful stitching on a leather jacket.
More stitching perfection
This particular example has some of the tightest, neatest, and most beautiful work that I have personally seen. There is one slightly less than clean stitch on one of the cuffs, but I still would not call it wonky. It is just slightly less perfect than the rest of the jacket. It does not bother me at all given how jaw dropping the rest of the stitch work is. The pattern on the hand warmer pockets is executed to perfection and I could stare at how tight and completely free of seam puckering this jacket is for hours. In fact, I have done just so for quite some time while writing this review!
As the fit pictures should show, the fit is absolutely perfect. The test jacket was very helpful because while this is also a shawl collar jacket with a similar silhouette to my Wolverine, it is in fact a different pattern and not just the same jacket with buttons, hand warmer pockets, no fur, and a slightly different hide. This shows Dave’s impressive attention to detail. Despite the similar design, he still came up with an entirely new pattern for this jacket. This means that I chose slightly different measurements for this one and Dave and his team unsurprisingly nailed the measurements. It is very tough to say whether this or my Wolverine fits better. My first Himel jacket fits slightly tighter while this is slightly more relaxed and comfortable, but maybe not as slim.
Some comparisons of the different grains on this jacket
Either way, I am more than satisfied with the fit. This is by far my most comfortable and easiest jacket to wear which is exactly what I wanted from it.
Everything about this jacket is exactly what I wanted, in fact. The fit is perfect, the hide is one of the best I have ever seen, the buttons are out of this world, the liner matches beautifully with the other details of the jacket, and the stitching is stunning in a way that only Himel Bros can seem to do. Most importantly, the jacket fits the criteria of being carefree and easy for me to wear with absolutely anything (except black boots of course).
Like I said, it goes with everything
In the weeks after receiving it, I have thrown it on over all of my outfits without thinking, making it my easiest jacket to wear on a given day. If I could afford to buy five more leather jackets, I am pretty certain that at least four of them would be other Himel jackets, perhaps all five. I try to be as tempered and balanced as I can in my reviews, but items such as this one make me gush and are the reason why I love this hobby of being so obsessed with high quality heritage clothing. It is with the greatest enthusiasm that I suggest anyone and everyone give Dave a call or an email and check out his incredible jackets. Along with my Clinch and Role Club horsehide boots, my Himel Bros. leather jackets are my absolutely favorite items that I own and if you really pressed me, I’d say that the Himel jackets are at the very top. This is one of those items that reminds me why I love this type of clothing to the point that I pay money to have a decent looking website just to share my opinions on this subject. It is one of the reasons that I am so passionate about this hobby.
Visit the Himel Bros website here: https://himelbros.com/
Follow Dave on Instagram here: https://www.instagram.com/himelbros/?hl=en
P.S. Normal service will resume in the next review in which I am much less positive.