As repeat readers of this blog will know, I love leather jackets. I have owned an extensive amount of them over the years and I am always looking for new high quality leather jackets. Field Leathers is the newest quality leather jacket maker that I have seen pop up recently and I have to say, the jackets look quite impressive. While I noticed that people were skeptical at first, he seems to have gained a pretty strong following quite quickly and I took note of this. I have not ordered any jackets from him myself, but I decided I should interview him to allow him to explain his new endeavor further. I usually put a pretty large introduction before my interviews, but let’s just hear from Greg instead this time!
Almost Vintage: What sparked your interest in clothing and leather jackets?
Field Leathers: For as long as I can remember I have always had an interest in clothing, probably from around 9 or 10. I was always looking at clothing in shops and wondering how they were made.
At school I was useless at most subjects apart from Physical Education, Art and Woodwork so I knew I wanted to do something creative as a career. This was why I went on to study Fashion at University. To be completely honest I had little knowledge or interest in leather garments then.
I fell in love with leather jackets as soon as I stepped into the doors of Aero Leathers.
AVS: What did you do before starting your own leather jacket company?
FL: Before starting up I worked at Aero Leathers for 8 years.
AVS: Why did you decide to start your own company?
FL: All my life I dreamt that one day I would go work and live in the U.S and that almost came true. I had a job lined up with one of the best jacket makers in the world, John Chapman, but unfortunately due to personal circumstances these plans had to be cancelled.
At this point in my life I wasn’t happy and needed a big change. I wanted my life path to be through my own choices and on my own terms so I decided I was going to start taking the steps to set up my own business. I mean why not? If not now, then when? Right?
I’m crazy in love with what I do, I have more passion than anyone else I know in this business and more importantly this is the one thing I have done that I know I want to keep doing for the rest of my life. So I told myself that I would not stop until my business was up and running.
AVS: Do you make all of the jackets yourself?
FL: Yup! I am the man behind the sewing machine, emails, Instagram and Facebook accounts, it’s all me. I do hope that in the future I will have a small team here working with me at Field Leathers.
AVS: What is the most difficult part of starting your own garment company?
FL: Ohh, good question, there are a lot of obstacles and difficult parts when it comes to starting up a garment company.
For me money was the main factor. Luckily, I had already been saving like crazy for my move to Seattle and now that that wasn’t going ahead, I had a lump sum ready however I knew I would need to save more to get me started. Turns out it was a LOT more I needed to get the business launched! However, I got there in the end and this could have held me back. I guess money is a factor that stops a lot of people from going self-employed, but I was just too determined to get my work out there that I pushed myself to go for it.
My most important challenge was getting my patterns exactly how I wanted them, this is an extremely time-consuming process as well as expensive and frustrating. Especially if you’re a perfectionist like me!
The most difficult part, for me anyway, was written communication. Being dyslexic I’ve always struggled academically and have always avoided anything that involves writing, like before I started up I had only sent around 2-3 emails as it wasn’t a strong area for me. Lucky for me I have a great best Friend, Samantha, who knows the business inside out, to help me out whenever I need her.
AVS: What is the most rewarding aspect of your business?
FL: That’s an easy question, Seeing/hearing how happy my customers are when they receive their jacket. Even though I’m always shitting myself from the moment I post the jacket out until I hear from them when they receive it, I can’t help but be nervous and hope this fades as time goes on. I put my all into my jackets and I just hope the customer loves it as much as I do. With this my jackets are being shipped all over the world which is crazy to me! I love seeing my work around the globe.
AVS: What makes your jackets special? (styles, patterns, materials, construction quality)
FL: There are a few things that make my jackets special to me. The first is the cut of my patterns. I love a slim cut jacket on a man, showing off the silhouette. I spent so much time trying to create the best slimline patterns but also making sure the user wasn’t restricted and I believe I have achieved this.
I only use the best of materials such as Shinki horsehide as I’m sure we are all aware this is regarded as one of the best leathers in the world.
Being in this business for over 8 years one thing I know is that hardware matters. This is why I’ve chosen one of the best zippers you can get: Reproduction talon zippers, made to order from Japan. These zippers aren’t just incredibly reliable they are absolutely beautiful.
Another thing that makes my jackets unique is my bespoke option. Unlike any other jacket maker (that I am aware of) I offer my customers a full bespoke option. This is where my customers can fully modify my designs but better yet get a full mock up in heavy cotton so they can check everything is 100% to their liking before the real deal is made from leather.
The last thing that makes my jackets so special is the time and effort put into them. I don’t take it lightly that my customers hand over £1000 to me to create the perfect jacket for them and I feel It is my duty to make sure they get my best work every time.
AVS: What is it about Shinki horsehide that you like so much?
FL: I don’t “like” anything about Shinki, I “LOVE” everything about it.
Back at the start of my career I remember always hearing about this “Shinki horsehide” from Japan and how it was meant to be the Crème de la Crème – however I never got to see it in person until back in 2016 when I was at the Good Wood festival down in Chichester, England and I got to meet Nick Clements, publisher of Men’s File.
He had on a Himel Bros, The Arrowhead pullover. This was the first time I got to see Shinki up close and it was then I realised what the hype was about.
Shinki Horsehide is like no other leather I have ever handled and with over eight years making leather jackets I’ve handled a lot. The temper of these horse fronts are exactly what I want to be offering my customers. I believe this gives them the perfect jacket that’s not too heavy or rigid. It drapes amazingly and moulds to their body in no time at all. The smell is unbelievable, not that other leather doesn’t smell nice, it’s just nothing smells as nice as Shinki Hikaku horsehide.
When wearing jackets made from other leathers I used to feel good but when I’m wearing a jacket made from Shinki my confidence is at an all time high, no other piece of clothing makes me feel this way. This is why I love Shinki.
We never talk about men feeling good, men feeling confident. From day one it was my passion to try to make all of my customers feel amazingly confident when they put on a Field Leathers jacket.
AVS: Do you have a favorite jacket that you produce?
FL: This is a tough question! You know it’s funny as it changes a lot! I used to think my Idaho was just a basic half-belt design but I received an order for one in black full aniline Shinki and I honestly fell in love with it when it was complete, to the point where I thought it wouldn’t be the worst thing if the customer wanted to return it so then I could keep it for myself! So, although this is my current favourite, I’m sure that will change again and again as I continue to make each design in different leathers, linings and with customizations.
AVS: What is your favorite detail on leather jackets or favorite part to construct?
FL: I love fancy D-Pockets, I made a really nice motorcycle jacket for an awesome guy back in June and he asked for a very creatively shaped D-Pocket that I absolutely loved doing because it gave me the opportunity to get creative and show off my clean stitch lines and detailed pattern work.
The great thing about fancy D-pockets is you need to make sure you snip the right areas, glue it correctly and sew it 100% accurately otherwise it will look sloppy, and we do not do sloppy at Field Leathers!
AVS: Is skiving leather on leather jackets actually bad?
FL: Absolutely not, the best jacket makers in the world skive their leather. Skiving allows the maker to get a neater finish and that alone should be a good enough reason to do it. Not only does it allow for a neater finish it reduces the bulk of a seam. I strongly believe this should be done to create more ease of movement around the arm, giving the customer a more comfortable jacket. Due to all of these reasons I am actually about to purchase my own skiving machine.
AVS: So you don’t think that skiving leather makes jackets weaker like some makers claim?
FL: No, I do not agree with this. The seams that are getting skived are in the areas that have four, five and six layers of leather. Take the neckline for example, you have the top collar, under collar collar, front facing folded back on itself and the front neckline folded back on itself. That’s six layers at 1.3mm on average, giving you 7.8mm.
7.8mm of leather is too much in my opinion, by skiving .5mm on each seam brings this down to 4.8mm total which let’s be honest is still more than adequate to provide you with an extremely strong seam.
Secondly the best makers in the world skive their seams and they are all using very thin needles for obvious reasons, they give you a beautiful small hole. If they didn’t skive certain areas they would have tremendous difficulty like I do just now. I have to hand-wind my machine when going over certain areas such as the shoulder seam that meets the neckline, hem, shoulder and zipper cuff sleeves. If I didn’t do this I’d most certainly snap my needle.
When I finish a jacket I’m always ecstatic on how well it’s come out but I always know I can do better in a couple areas, and those areas are on thick bulky seams that if I had skived I wouldn’t have been disappointed. I started my company to eventually be competing with some of the best jacket makers out there, so I know I need to improve in this area, this is why I’ve now ordered my nice new skiving machine that will be with me next week, I honestly do believe this will get me one step closer to competing with those top guys.
So no, skiving does not have a negative effect on the durability of a jacket in my opinion but it certainly does have a positive effect on the aesthetic of a jacket.
AVS: What future models or future plans do you have?
FL: I’ve been working on three new styles over the last few months and I’m hoping to be offering them towards the end of the year. They are: “The San Francisco”. This one will be the classic motorcycle jacket featuring probably one of the most beautiful D-pockets I have ever seen.
“The Hudson Valley”. I’ve had so many people tell me they want to see me offer a Cossack so I’ve decided to include one, but unlike the Cossack back in the 30s mine will have that modern feel, will be a more fitted style with extra length on the body.
Lastly, soon to be on offer will be “The Everett” which has been heavily influenced by Leather Toggs motorcycle D-Pocket but adding my own touch to it.
As far my future plans go, I know I need to step up my social media game. A YouTube channel may be on the horizon. Who knows?
I just want to stay focused, learn from my mistakes and keep producing the best quality jackets possible for my amazing customers.
Even though I only started the business back in March I’ve gotten to know so many cool, interesting and talented people. One of those guys is Tucker, owner of K&H Leather Works from Connecticut. We got to talking and as two young business owners we decided to help one another out and are now working on a collaboration. Tucker will soon be offering an exclusive Route66 and I will soon have my own accessory line of wallets and belts. The wallets will be made from a selection of Shinki Horsehide that will match your beautiful jacket.
I want to thank Greg for his thoughtful and insightful responses. As someone who loves leather jackets, I am happy to see someone with Greg’s passion and talent for leather jackets being having success and support so early on in his solo career. Of course, I am also glad to see that he seems to love Shinki as much as I do!
If you are interested in purchasing a Field Leathers jacket or just seeing more of Greg’s work, check out his Instagram page and his website. As always, these are NOT affiliate links because I am a reviewer and enthusiast, not a promoter pretending to be a reviewer. I simply think that Greg’s jackets look to be high quality and worth sharing with people, even if I have not yet purchased one myself.
I would also like to thank all of the customers being featured in this review. Greg asked if their pictures could be used for this article and they all agreed. Their photos allow the work of Field Leathers to be showcased alongside Greg’s words and I appreciate them for this. If you would like to learn more about leather jackets in general, head over to The Fedora Lounge which, despite its name is actually the premier destination on the internet for leather jacket knowledge and discussion and can teach you so much more than I or any other blog/review site ever could.