Padded CHP leather jacket

http://www.ebay.com/itm/271233323658
This leather jacket is made in the “Columbia” style, pioneered by Langlitz leathers. This style is also known as the CHP / California Highway Patrol. This particular one was sold by “Leather Man”, and is a size 50. It has quilted, padded shoulders and elbows, an asymmetric zip, and zip cuffs with sheepskin storm cuffs. This is made of extremely heavyweight leather.

Chest (pit to pit): 26″ (doubled = 52″)
Waist: 22″ (doubled = 44″)
Shoulder to Shoulder: 20″
Sleeve (shoulder to cuff): 26″
Length (base of collar to hem, down back): 22-1/2″

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Nylon CHP jacket

http://www.ebay.com/itm/281078362397

This vintage motorcycle jacket was custom tailored by Lancer Leathers of Phoenix, Arizona. Going by the Lenzip zippers, I’d say it was made in the 1970s. It is the classic Columbia / CHP style, unchanged since the late 1940s. This one follows the pattern, with the concealed snaps in the collar and lapels, the zipped front pockets, the shourt length, zip cuffs, laced side panels, and kidney panel. This throws a nice twist on the design with its heavy nylon material. It has leather elbow reinforcement padds, and leather detailing on the cuff zippers and the laced panels. With the 48″ chest, I would recommend this jacket for either a size 44 or 46.

Chest (pit to pit): 24″ (doubled =48″)
Shoulder to Shoulder: 18″
Sleeve (shoulder to cuff): 23″

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Black CHP jacket

This one I’m keeping for myself.  It’s a Langlitz Columbia / California Highway Patrol style jacket.  7 pounds of leather.

A lot of people out there buying modern high end reproductions of ’30s jacket styles talk about how authentic their jackets are. To prove this point they reference how their jackets weigh eight pounds and can stand up on their own, how they can stop bullets. How anything that’s not made from the worlds stiffest 4oz horsehide is “mall jacket quality”. That kind of thing.  The more I hear about this kind of thing, and the more original jackets I handle, the more I’m convinced these people have never seen an actual vintage jacket.  Most of the vintage jackets I’ve handled clock in at three and a half pounds, post conditioning. The counterargument people will use against that is that they’ve lost moisture and therefore weight over the years, and I know that these jackets do.  But they usually put on several ounces after conditioner is applied to bring them back to their original state, not four and a half pounds.

Back to the jacket at hand.  Like I say, clocking in at 7 pounds, which is a lot for such a short jacket, it’s almost uncomfortable to wear, so sizing is important. This one is a good fit for me, tight through the body, but not uncomfortably so.  A big complaint I have with modern production motorcycle jackets I’ve tried on is their length. As with seemingly everything these days, they’ve become longer and longer, gradually lengthening to close to the length of a suit jacket.

There was a reason that old utility jackets, denim jackets, and motorcycle jackets hit the wearer right at the beltline.  When you sit down, or ride a motorcycle, or do anything that requires any action, a long jacket will either bunch up or ride up.  With a heavy leather jacket like this, the riding up scenario is more likely. With a jacket like this, the bottom of the jacket lines up just about with where you bend in the middle, which means no matter how you move, the jacket stays right where it should.  Some modern jacket makers try to get around this length issue by putting a two-way zipper on their product, allowing the jacket to be opened at the bottom. It’s a good solution, but I fine that more often than not, makers continue the “V” shape of the jacket all the way to the bottom, which means (for me, at least) they are either uncomfortably tight across the hips, or that you have to size up, making them too baggy in the chest.  Give me an old fashioned waist length jacket any day.

You may notice on the long half-belt jackets of the ’30s-’50s that the zipper starts a good six to eight inches higher than the bottom hem, and that on older suit jackets and overcoats, the button stance was higher.  This allowed you, even with a longer length, to keep your jacket buttoned or zipped, keeping the cold and wind out.

This jacket dates from the 1970s, and has a heavy gauge Talon main zipper.  It has zipped sleeve cuffs with mouton panels at the end to keep a tight seal when fully zipped. I like my jackets on the simple side without a lot of hardware. It’s easy for a motorcycle jacket to get into punk or fetish territory in a hurry, especially one like this.  For that reason, I like the concealed lapel studs, the simple pockets, and the un-fussy yoked back.  It is well detailed, but practical, and thought out. I’m not in love with the belt loops, as I have no intention of wearing a garrison belt with it, but I can live with them. The jacket came with a snap on mouton panel, which covers the rider’s chest and throat while the jacket is worn with the lapels open.

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Diagonal Zip Vintage Leather Jackets

The black leather jacket epitomized by the Schott Perfecto wasn’t always the motorcycle jacket default. Here is a small sample of diagonal zip leather jackets, ancestors of the style, which date from the 1930s-1960s. Top to bottom: Monarch, no label capeskin, Foster Sportswear, British Sportswear, no label Columbia. The silver British Sportswear jackets has exposed studs on the lapels, but none on the collar. The Columbia has concealed studs on both. The top three have none. They display a variety of pocket styles and placements, and of cuff styles.

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Brown Columbia CHP jacket

http://www.ebay.com/itm/271103006052

This vintage leather jacket is in the “Coumbia” motorcycle style, the type worn by the California Highway Patrol. This one probably dates from the late ’50s or 1960s.  Usually they come up in black, so the brown leather on this one is unusual. This style was made by most of the big California makers, Langlitz still makes a nice version.  Due to the lack of tags, it’s hard to be positive whether the jacket is horsehide or a heavyweight steerhide. One way or another, it has killer grain and patina.  The jacket bears stitch marks from a previous zipper, indicating the current ’70s manufactured one is a replacement.  Likewise, it appears the jacket has been relined at some point, going by the different color collar snaps on the inside.  The sleeve zippers are Serval, and the pocket zippers have brass chains. The main zipper is missing the prong and is in need of replacement.  The zipper on the right sleeve has jumped its track.  There is heavy wear to the left cuff, and wear and patina to the leather throughout.  There is a half inch stab through the leather near the main zipper which goes clean through the front of the jacket when zipped, through at least four layers of leather.  There must be a story there.  There are mouton panels in the cuffs to keep the wind out when the sleeves are zipped.  The are attachment snaps for a detachable collar, now long gone.
Chest: (pit to pit): 23″ (doubled = 46″ = size 42)
Shoulder to Shoulder: 20″
Sleeve (shoulder to cuff): 25″
Length (collar to hem): 27″

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