Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Obsessions: The Leather Jacket edition.

I've had "leather jacket" on my list of Big Things I Want next to "hipster glasses", a medical procedure I need to take care of, and bangs. Friday I saw this picture on tumblr:

It's from a website called killstar.com. A quick trip to their website led me down a rabbit hole I didn't crawl out of until last night. Within minutes, I became OBSESSED with this leather jacket:
I gazed upon it for hours. After my intense study of the above picture, I checked the sizing info. There weren't dimensions listed for the sizes of Extra Small, S, M, L, and Extra Large. I emailed the company asking about the measurements of the jacket. The description also stated that the type of leather was "Nappa" so I looked that up. It means lamb or calf skin, or just a word to describe a process that makes the leather really soft.

Here is the point where I have to tell you a bit about my history with leather. I have none. I've been not buying leather on purpose since I became a vegetarian at 17. I'm not sure when I decided I wanted a leather motorcycle jacket. Having fallen in love with the jacket above, I really had to decide, was I ok with buying new leather?

While I waited for the sizing info on the coveted jacket, I began a very potent weekend-long search on Etsy and Ebay and every other place online for the "perfect" leather jacket. I even spent a lengthy detour looking at vegan leather jackets. I was hoping the "perfect" leather jacket wasn't the one that cost $250, possibly made from baby cows.

Probably everyone else has realized this, but in my extensive search (by extensive I mean, I would sit at my computer for hours looking at jacket after jacket after jacket) I began to notice that most leather "motorcycle" jackets have most of the features the above jacket possesses. They usually have zippers on the sleeves (this one does, though you can't see them here), a little snap pocket, snappy lapels, asymmetrical zipper, and usually three zippered pockets. They usually have a belt (like the pink jacket pictured).

I began to form my requirements for a leather jacket. You see, when I want something, it always has to be the PERFECT specimen of that item. In order to reach my requirements for perfection, I have to do an obscene amount of research to know what my idea of perfection is for a particular item. My requirements eventually became thus:

*the jacket had to have some sort of insulation on the inside; I want it WARM.
*the snaps and zippers and pockets all have to be functional and sturdy-looking
*the metal on the jacket has to be chrome
*I NEED those sleeve-zippers
*it has to fit
*I don't want one that's already studded up. Some weird "authentic punk" part of me couldn't possibly buy a jacket pre-personalized.

I looked up the history of the leather jacket. It originated in the Civil War for soldiers. In 1928 Irving Schott created the iconic style we all know to this day, called The Perfecto. This is the jacket worn by Marlon Brando (below) in "The Wild One" that started the pop culture idea that a leather jacket is somehow tough and rebellious. It seems that the leather motorcycle jacket has been ubiquitous ever since. Since my obsession began on Friday, I've been noticing them EVERYWHERE. They're all basically the same, and yet seeing one does make me think someone is tough and cool, so I drank the Kool-Aid, I guess.
One annoying aspect (aside from fit issues, there were several) of shopping for a leather jacket was that many of the product pictures included a very skinny woman with one hand in her long unwashed hair and the jacket OPEN. Um, I can't see what the frickin' jacket looks like if it's unzipped and tangled with your amazing hair and frilly dress. Yes, you look awesome, but please show me some pics with the jacket zipped and your hands in the pockets so I know they work. Is that so hard? I want pictures from all angles and a lengthy description alongside each item. I want a visual and intellectual experience in lieu of being able to touch the item I'm intending to purchase.

Fun fact: those snappy things on the shoulders are called epaulettes and they were originally designed to secure bag straps to your person as you rode into the sunset on your hog.

I honestly did spend several hours Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and Monday in this search/obsession. It usually doesn't take me very long to find the perfect [x], but leather jackets are fucking EVERYWHERE, as I said. This is one of the first times in my life I was searching for something that I could find in so many different places. The paradox of choice was crippling. This search was all I talked about. Finally, Monday arrived and with it an email from a woman at Kill Star. She sent me a document containing the measurements for several of their jackets on the site. None of them were the jacket I want and all of the measurements were different, for each style of jacket. She also didn't answer the other questions I had (is it warm? and is it really lambs or baby cows?). The sale on their site, the one that made my coveted jacket 250$ instead of 300$, was ending at 6pm.

At 5:20 after a long day of sifting through a sea of leather I decided that I would make 6pm my deadline for this obsession. If I hadn't chosen a jacket by 5:55pm, I would possibly decide to purchase the jacket on Kill Star, despite my reservations about size (non-returnable if it didn't fit!), baby cows, and jacket warmth. Or maybe I'd have to decide that a leather jacket isn't for me at all. I became an even more vigorous shopping machine. I combed every jacket within my price range on Etsy, and there were many hundreds.

The more I thought about it, the more I knew I couldn't get the jacket on Kill Star. It looks perfect, but according to the measurements of the other jackets on their site, if I fit in ANY size at all, it would be the Extra Large. EXTRA LARGE. I'm 5'5" and 150 pounds. I'm not even overweight, but I'd have to order an Extra Large. How depressing is that? From the UK. For $250. And it might be lambs or baby cows. And I'd feel like shit about that. I really really would. Because my purchase of new leather would contribute to the present slaughter of animals. It's gratuitous. Also, I don't feel morally good about spending a chunk of change on a company that doesn't have sizing for a woman bigger than me. I tend to have rose-colored glasses about my own size, but I know I'm not extra large! Somewhere around 5:30 I knew that the Kill Star jacket would not be mine, even if I didn't find a better jacket in the next thirty minutes.

Then I found it. "Vintage" (from the '80s, so I don't know that you could call it vintage) so I wouldn't have guilt about financially contributing to dead baby cows. The money I'd spend on this jacket would go to a cute hipster chick (I'm guessing--it might be a group of cute hipster chicks and dudes, I don't know) selling stuff on Etsy. That's ok with me. If she buys baby cow meat with my money, at least I'm not directly culpable. It had ALL my requirements. The only issue was that it is a men's jacket. The dimensions for the chest, waist, and hips are all essentially the same, but the chest and hips are pretty exact to my measurements.
To you, this jacket might look like all the other leather jackets, but to me it is beautiful. It is my size. It is insulated. It has functional pockets (even one on the inside!). It's sort of faded, which I didn't know I wanted until I noticed how cool this jacket looks compared to the deep black colors of many others. It's unadorned. It's half the price of the one on Kill Star. The description was long and detailed and the photos were copious and from all angles and levels of zipped and unzipped. This is a fully functional jacket. My search ended around 5:45.

The obsession was frankly kind of crazy...ok, really crazy. Buuuuuut, after finally clicking purchase, I am faced with the same feeling I get every time I do something like this. It is a feeling of relief. A feeling of calm. A feeling of knowing for an absolute fact that if THIS leather jacket doesn't work for me, then I'm just not a leather jacket person. This feeling is one of not having settled. I was thoughtful and thorough. Most likely, I will have this leather jacket until the day I die.

This is how I choose everything of value in my life. I chose to marry Michael with a similar approach to thoroughness, logic, and scrutiny of detail. I know for a scientific fact that he's the being for me and no other will do. I also do this with things that don't matter as much and sometimes it wastes a lot of time and causes more headaches than is required. Generally though, I know what I want and why I want it because I can logically back it up, at least to myself.

***UPDATE (1/9/15): I wanted to give a bit of a shoutout to Hot Trash Vintage. I have bought from them several times since my first purchase of this leather jacket and each time I have been very satisfied. They show LOTS of pictures of each item on their Etsy. They have detailed descriptions. They list all measurements (even measurements of the model and whether or not the garment is pinned on the model, etc). They also post pictures of Buffy frequently on their Instagram. AND they love '90s clothes. They're like my spirit-clothing-store-animal and I never would have found them if I hadn't started this insane search for the perfect leather jacket.

As an EXTRA added bonus, the jacket came with arcade tokens in the little snap pocket. They probably weren't noticed by the seller, but it made my cheesy heart glow thinking about the previous owner playing Galaga in the '80s while wearing my jacket. I eventually put a couple of studs on the epaulets and a synthesizer pin on a lapel. I still feel a little weird wearing a motorcycle jacket but it's warm and no one has fucked with me while wearing it...yet.

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