A Custom Made Men’s Shearling Jacket

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This Custom Made shearling jacket

got finished just in time for the polar vortex we are now experiencing in NYC.

This custom-made men’s shearling jacket got started very late in the season… the client came to me in October,  and it took quite some time to locate the shearling he wanted. 

The way that the leather market works, at my level, of making one-of-a-kind pieces means that I am at the mercy of what my vendors choose to bring into the country or have chosen to have made.

Shearling – which is generally tanned & finished in either Europe or Turkey works the same way.  But because of the timing, by October, all of the really in-demand skins tend to be out of stock locally. 

The scheduling is this: European Tanneries take the whole month of August off, and once they come back in September, it takes, on average, a minimum of 8-12 weeks for anything new to be shipped to any vendors or manufacturers. 

So the goods that are shipped out at the end of Nov/Dec are usually for sampling prospective styles that will ship out to stores the next August, Sept & Oct. 

Luck prevailed, and one of my vendors got in one of these late shipments.  And they were the perfect hides.  Just what the client wanted, with a dark, almost black leather side and soft off-white fur with tiny curls on the back.  For the classic shearling jacket look.

These high-contrast finishes are always the most in-demand because that is the “iconic” shearling jacket look.

I walked into the vendor the day these goods arrived.  So my timing was perfect.  The demand for this finish is so high; if I’d been a day later, I’d likely have missed them completely!  That’s how hard it can be to source certain very specific items when you are not purchasing in large quantities.

I got the skins December 1.  He got his jacket January 8.  Record time considering!

Technically, I could custom order shearling finishes, but the minimums required to order a very specific finish starts at  500 square feet (if you are lucky) up to to 2500 square feet or more.  Then there is the lead time involved.  So for Custom-made, one-off pieces,  it’s just not feasible.  Hopefully one day if I can do small runs of RTW styles, this is something I will be able to do.

For now, since I am not working in anywhere near the quantities needed,  I am reliant on what my vendors bring in for shearling.   

So the best time to start a shearling jacket or shearling coat project – especially if you have a very specific finish in mind, is probably towards the end of the summer, believe it or not.

BTW, this jacket required 65 square feet of these goods for a size 44. (And he also got a hat out of the scraps! )  These skins were tiny, 3 sft to 4.5 sqft each.  Almost every cut section takes a whole skin when they are this small.  Footage adds up quickly.  And shearling is one of the more expensive, non-exotic, leathers, and it requires specialized handling & cutting.  A Custom Made Shearling jacket or coat will never be remotely in the price range of an Off-the-Rack shearling jacket.

There are also other skins and finishes which can be used the same way as shearling. for a softer, much lighter weight garment that still provides warmth and the reversible or double faced qualities of shearling, I love the double faced finished that are available on Spanish Rabbit. They can range from a patent leather look to a soft matte leather look, to prints on a sueded finish.

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