Bespoke Alligator Jacket – True City Armor

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This alligator jacket project was initially brought up to me over a year ago.

It was something my client had been thinking about for an upcoming personal milestone. 

And this year, in spite of-or perhaps because of,  all of the tribulations we have all been experiencing –  you only live once, after all…. He celebrated his milestone!

So this bespoke alligator jacket was a long planned project – really an Alligator garment of any type is an investment and so it’s worth all the careful planning and time involved.

So earlier  this year he came back to me with more defined vision of what he wanted his jacket to look like. It had evolved a bit from his original thoughts, which you can see here.

When working with alligator I want to get the pattern finalized first so that I have a good idea of the number of skins involved – and the pattern has to be super precise (all of my patterns are super-precise but working with alligator is very different than leather. 

From the pattern (smaller tolerances, smaller allowances, often unusual piecing since the working area of the skins is quite small)  To the cutting – alligator is not a pristinely perfect skin, even the farmed ones, so cutting is akin to a figuring out a complex jigsaw puzzle.

You really have to study the skins carefully against the pattern pieces. I want to plan, match and mirror the size of scales aesthetically across the whole garment. I also have to consider the construction technique that I feel will work best for the project.  Once the pattern is “Final” there may still be changes to accommodate the skins you have to work with.

The cutting of alligator is much more difficult than any regular leather garment. This jacket took more than a week to plot out and actually cut once I receive the finished hides.  Then there is all the prep work that happens before construction. With alligator this includes some unavoidable ‘corrections’.  Any minor natural flaws  that do wind up in the garment are planned to be in facings, inside of hems, etc.  They still get corrected.  In the case of these skins I needed to touch up minor areas where the antiquing showed the under color too brightly and fill in some flaws in the hem.  

And of course – absolutely NO room for any mistakes)  The resulting pattern still was not the completely final ‘pattern’, since changes often have to happen once you have the skins in front of you.  Here’s more on the making of this jacket.

This Alligator jacket is truly like armor. Especially the tail parts when you are able to use them in a garment. Most exotic skins when taken care of hold up incredibly well over time and I am especially happy that my client intends to wear his alligator jacket as an everyday piece over fitted t-shirts, I really can’t wait to see how it looks in a year or two or ten with wear!

The antique patina should acquire a subtle pull-up effect in areas of bend and along edges. Like a great vintage denim.  Like most leather, This alligator jacket should require very little maintenance. Basically kept away from water and heat, ( A deadly combo for ANY skin- exotic or not) Many alligator skins can fade if exposed to direct sunlight for long periods. For an alligator jacket that should not be a problem like it would be for a piece of furniture or home decor.  

Although, he can get caught in a light drizzle without too much worry after the treatment I gave the jacket. It should be hung on a well shaped hangar after wear, conditioned lightly – maybe once a year.  You don’t want to over-condition – it’s unneeded and really not good over the long run since some products build up.  Any long term storage – must be in a cloth garment bag.  And in the case of an alligator jacket – you’re gonna want to insure it.


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