How to Buy High Quality Sustainable Leather Jackets by Styles For Thought

How to Buy High Quality Sustainable Leather Jackets

Leather jackets are unarguably fashion essentials that everyone should have. If you choose a high quality leather jacket, it can really last you for a life time. Well, at least longer than just a summer fling. In today’s post, I am going to talk about 6 things to consider when buying high quality sustainable leather jackets.

  1. Leather Quality
  2. Leather Jacket Fits
  3. Leather Types
  4. Leather Jacket Styles
  5. Leather Jacket Details
  6. Sustainable Fashion Brands and Ethical Clothing Companies for Leather Jackets

How to Buy High Quality Sustainable Leather Jackets by Styles For Thought

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1. Leather Quality

Leather quality is the first thing to consider when buying high quality leather jackets. I prefer real leather over faux leather for many reasons. First, the process of making faux leather is chemical-intensive and very polluting. Second, unlike real leather, faux leather does not age well over time. High quality leather develops a patina on the surface and becomes more beautiful over time, making it a more sustainable option over short-lived faux leather.  Below, we are going to discuss different leather qualities and compare their durability.

  • Full-Grain Leather

Full-grain leather is the highest quality leather in the market.  Full-grain leather has never been sanded and buffed. So its natural marks and grains make the leather extra durable and strong.

  • Top-Grain Leather

Top-grain leather is the second highest quality leather.  Sanded on the surface, top-grain leather is smooth to the touch. Top-grain leather is commonly used in many high-end leather products because it’s thinner and more workable.

  • Genuine Leather

Contrary to common perception, genuine leather ranks low in the pyramid. Genuine leather is heavily sanded and processed. It is pressed with fake grain on the surface.  Don’t let the name fool you, genuine leather has much lower quality than full and top-grain leather.

  • Suede Leather

Suede leather has a unique textured feel and a muted appearance. And this type of leather is often a popular choice when people shopping for leather jackets.  However, suede leather jackets cannot get wet.


2.  Leather Jacket Fitting

Fitting is crucial when buying leather jackets. Without a good fit, even high quality leather jackets are a waste because you will not wear them for very long.  I would say, the fitting of a leather jacket ranks #2 in this list of things to consider.

Before choosing a leather jacket size, you need to know these two things about leather:

  • Real leather stretches over time. So, when you find yourself in between sizes, always go down instead of going up a size.
  • While leather stretches, the lining of the jacket may not give as much. Make sure the shoulder area and the armhole area fit the way you want from the very beginning. For the shoulder area, you want to use the shoulder seams as the point of reference. You want to make sure they rest perfectly on the top of your shoulder.  Also move your arms around to make sure the armhole area is not too tight.

When you are trying on the leather jacket, ask yourself these questions:

  • Are you going to wear it over winter, or all year around?
  • Are you going to wear it zipped up or buttoned up?
  • Do you like a boxy cut, classic cut or extra slim?
  • Are you petite, regular, or tall?
  • Do you have a broad shoulder, or a narrow shoulder?

Then, you should always try on the leather jacket with clothes that you are planning on pairing it with. Finally, gauge whether you want to go up or down a size.

How to Buy High Quality Sustainable Leather Jackets by Styles For Thought

3. Leather Types

Two common leather types for leather jackets are lambskin and calfskin. Rarely, you run into other types. Below is a short list that highlights the characteristics of different leathers types.

  • Calfskin

Calfskin is smooth and durable. Chanel purse lovers prefers calfskin over lambskin bags because calfskin is tougher, and it can handle more scratches and last longer.

  • Lambskin

Lambskin is luxurious to the touch and light-weight. Lambskin leather jackets are more commonly found in women’s fashion.

  • Goatskin

Goatskin stands in between calfskin and lambskin in terms of durability and softness.

  • Buffalo skin

Buffalo skin is the heaviest and most durable. People buy buffalo skin leather jackets for protection and functionality rather than style and look.

4. Leather Jacket Styles

Choosing a leather jacket style is a matter of personal taste and preference. Before deciding on a style, I recommend you to ditch online shopping and really try on the leather jacket first.  Click here to download a free copy of shopping questions to help you shop better. Below for a breakdown of various common leather jacket styles:

  • Biker

Biker leather jackets are originally designed for motorcycle riders. Biker leather jackets are functional and resistant to harsh weather conditions. Typical biker leather jackets have a cropped cut that allows bikers to bend over easily. Biker leather jackets feature an asymmetrical front zipper, large lapels, a D-shape pocket and a half-fastened belt.

  • Bomber

Bomber styled leather jackets are originally designed for pilots who had to sit in a tiny space for a long period of time.  With comfort as the number one priority in mind, a bomber jacket usually has a roomy cut, elastic wrist and waist bands to help retain warmth. A bomber leather jacket is perfect for casual settings.

  • Blazer

Get a leather blazer if you are planning on wearing leather jackets to your 9-5 job. A leather blazer jacket comes with a double-breasted silhouette and a sharp shoulder cut.

  • Shearling

Get a shearling leather jacket for cold climate. Lined with warm fluffy fur, a shearling leather jacket is usually bulky, and it is perfect at blocking wind and retaining warmth.

5. Leather Jacket Details

Details are what makes leather jackets high quality.  When you are spending so much money and time shopping for the highest quality leather jacket within your budget, do not settle for anything less.  Pay attention to these details:

  • Tailoring
  • Seams
  • Stitching
  • Zippers
  • Buttons
  • Metal Color
  • Linings

Buying a high quality leather jacket is not easy.  It is similar to finding a husband. Have a mindset that this leather jacket is for life. Do not settle for anything less. Do not support fast fashion brands. Support sustainable fashion brands and ethical clothing companies.

How to Buy High Quality Sustainable Leather Jackets by Styles For Thought

6. Sustainable Fashion Brands and Ethical Clothing Companies for Leather Jackets

Finally! Where can you shop for high quality sustainable leather jackets? Here are my favorite sustainable fashion brands and ethical clothing companies for leather jackets!

  • All Saints. According to Refinery29, AllSaints partnered with Not For Sale in 2011 to create a line of t-shirts to prevent human trafficking. According to, All Saints cannot be classified as an ethical clothing company because they don’t trace their entire supply chain, and they don’t provide transparency.  However, I love the side initiatives they participated in such as
    • Partnership with Not For Sale to help prevent human trafficking
    • Use of 'real people' in their campaign instead of supermodels
    • Discontinuation of angora usage in its collections.
  • Falcon. Handmade leather jackets made in NYC.
  • Pelechecoco. Very reasonable prices leather jackets made with recycled leather.
  • Better World Fashion. Made with recycled leather.

Thank you for reading this super long post! I hope you will find a high quality, sustainable leather jacket that’s within your budget.

Smile and style on!


Outfit Information

Jacket :: AllSaints

Top :: American Apparel

Bottom :: Lululemons

  1. Super helpful and thorough read! I had no idea about the history of jacket fits, but it makes a lot of sense now 🙂

  2. Hey SK,

    Thanks for shouting out Falcon Garments! Also, very detailed and accurate write-up on leather jackets.

    One update you may want to make. Our jackets are made in Seoul, South Korea by artisans that have been at their craft for decades.

    Thanks and please reach out if you want any more information about our jackets.

    Charly, Falcon Garments Co-Founder

    1. Oh that’s good to know! Thank you! 😀

  3. Awesome guide to leather jackets and thanks for the brand recommendations!

    1. You’re welcome, Annie! Let me know if you have any questions or topics you want to know more about!

  4. Hi
    Its terribly amazing, that’s the blog you admire I likable it.
    WOW WOW WOW that is some absolutely amazing leather jacket you have done.

  5. Cool, should try something with leather shoes too.

    1. Thank you for the suggestion! I’ll do a post on sustainable leather shoes soon.

  6. Great post you have shared. I am really inspired to read this post. I am always crazy to wear Leather accessories like Fadcloset leather recently I have ordered. Its feels satisfying to my soul.

    1. Thank you, Emily! 🙂

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