Buffalo Jackson’s cow leather jackets are crafted with full grain leather – the highest grade of leather quality available. Leather quality makes a big difference, and our cow leather jackets are made to last. As full grain leather ages, rather than wearing out, it develops a much sought-after patina and unique character that is not easily duplicated. Truly, the more you wear it, the better it looks and feels.
Take our Legacy men's leather jacket, for example. This vintage inspired flight jacket is crafted with brown full grain cow leather and features the Buffalo Jackson Legacy print on the interior. Zippered sleeve cuffs, chest pockets, front welted pockets are just a few of the details we’ve included in our take on this classic.
Or consider our Rebel leather bomber jacket. It’s a distressed black leather jacket as rugged and iconic as the battle-tested captains of the sky. We pair classic aviator style with first-class craftsmanship, using full grain cow leather and including features like a concealed full-length zipper and snug cotton detailing at the neck, wrists, and waist.
RECOGNIZING HIGH QUALITY VS. LOW QUALITY LEATHER
There are varying grades of leather quality, and the difference between high grade and low-grade cow leather is like the difference between Pappy Van Winkle and Jack: they can both look great on the outside, but it doesn’t take long to tell that one costs a lot more to make.
Pro tip: Know your bourbon. And know your leather.
Here are four keys to identifying high quality versus low quality leather:
The highest quality grade of leather is Full Grain followed by Top Grain. Lower quality grades of leather include Genuine leather (also called Corrected Grain leather) and Bonded leather.
Leather is a natural material made from real animal skin. Its surface structure should not be completely uniform and will include blemishes and imperfections. (Hints of imperfections are a good sign in leather.) A perfectly uniform grain indicates low quality.
Again, remember leather is a natural material. High quality leather is soft and pliable. When you run your fingers across it, it shouldn’t feel perfectly smooth. Press your finger into the leather - the surface will stretch and wrinkle a bit, like skin.
There is no way around it - high quality leather costs more to produce than low quality leather. If the price seems too good to be true, it probably (definitely) is.
TAKING CARE OF YOUR COW LEATHER JACKET
To get the most out of cow leather, you’ll need to dedicate some attention to proper upkeep. This is key to preserving and extending the life of your leather jacket. Be sure to review our articles for details on how to care for wet or stained cow leather. You can also shop our leather care products for our premium, easy-to-use cleaner and conditioner. Check out these 5 basic steps to cleaning your cow leather jacket:
*Always spot-check each step before proceeding with the full jacket!
- Lightly dust. Gently wipe away any dust or oil buildup using a soft cloth in a light circular motion.
- Prepare cleaning solution. *If your jacket isn't excessively dirty, skip to step 4. Mix two teaspoons of mild liquid detergent with warm water to create a gentle cleaning solution that can be used on cow leather without causing abrasions or other damage.
- Gently clean. Soak a soft sponge or cloth in your mild soap solution until it is saturated, then wring it out so it’s damp, but not soaking wet. The key to this cleaning approach is to use as little moisture as possible. Lightly blot the leather to avoid leaving watermarks, and remember to feather your blots. Do not rub or scrub!
- Wipe down. Remove soap residue by wiping down with a clean cloth saturated with a small amount of clean water. (Remember to use the smallest amount of moisture needed.) Then, pat the leather with a soft, dry towel, and hang the jacket somewhere cool until it is completely dry. Do not use direct heat (like a hair dryer or direct sunlight) to try to speed up the drying time.
- Remember the inside! The soap solution used for cleaning the outside of your leather jacket can also be used to clean the inside. Remember that cleaning the inside of your jacket is as important as preserving the outside; sweat on the interior of the jacket can eventually break down the lining and compromise the leather. To clean the inside, turn the jacket inside-out, and use a soft sponge or cloth and the same mild soap solution. Pay close attention to the cuffs, collar, and underarms, and then hang the jacket to dry in a cool, dry area. (Do not use direct heat.)
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
1. How do you store cow leather jackets?
You probably won’t be storing your cow leather jacket a whole lot because you’ll be wearing it everywhere! But seasonally, it’s normal to store it for a while. Storing it properly will help keep the cow leather healthy and the jacket in good shape.
- Clean it first. (Simply follow the steps outlined above.)
- Stuff the insides of your cow leather jacket with acid-free paper. Insert the paper in the sleeves and pockets of your jacket, and then close all the buttons and zippers. (You can also wrap the zippers to avoid scuffing the leather.) Stuffing the jacket helps to keep its shape, and the acid-free paper helps create a barrier for dust, dirt, and moisture.
- Wrap your jacket in a breathable fabric. You can use a white bed sheet, cloth garment bag, or a bag made with netting to do this. Do not wrap a cow leather jacket in plastic; plastic will dry out the leather. Also, avoid folding your jacket when you wrap or cover it because, over time, the folds will permanently crease the cow leather, ruining the jacket’s original shape and form.
- If you have the space, hang the jacket on a wide cedar or padded hanger. (These types of hangers can properly support the shoulders and weight of a cow leather jacket so that it doesn’t droop during storage. Do not use thin wired or plastic hangers.). If you don’t have space to properly hang your jacket, you can place it in a wooden (preferably cedar) trunk or even a suitcase. Just like when you are wrapping the jacket, be sure to lay it flat without folds or creases. Additionally, make sure that air can pass in and out of the container. Do not store cow leather in a plastic container – plastic containers will not allow the leather to breathe.
- Protect your leather jacket by storing it in a dry, cool area away from direct sunlight. Exposing a cow leather jacket to too much light or warmth can cause the leather to discolor, expand, dry out, or crack. Moisture is also a major cause for concern as it can cause mildew and mold to grow. This means it is extremely important that the place where you store your jacket is not humid. Placing silica gel packets in the jacket pockets can help absorb moisture. And, if you need to store it for an extended period of time (say, longer than 6 months), be sure to air it out occasionally.
2. How should you style a leather jacket?
Really, however you want. But, here are 3 of our favorite leather jacket outfits:
- Jeans + Tee Shirt. Nothing’s quite as classic as a leather jacket with a black or white tee and a pair of jeans.
- Sweater: A sweater with a leather jacket looks dressed up but not stuffy.
- Plaid Button Down: This combo is a sure winner. You can’t go wrong with leather and plaid. (Check out this article for more ideas.)
3. How do you break in a cow leather jacket?
Here are 3 easy tips to get you started:
- Wear it. The best way to break in a cow leather jacket is the old fashioned way – just keep on wearing it.
- Roll it into a ball. Simply use your hands to tightly crunch your cow leather jacket up into a ball. Release and repeat.
- Move and flex in it. Repeat simple moves like arm circles and pushups to accelerate the “wearing” effect. (Check out this article for a few more tricks.)
4. What is the difference between cow leather and bison leather?
Cow leather jackets and bison leather jackets are both really great options. The main differences are in the grain pattern and how the leather is processed.
- Processing: Bison leather and cow leather jackets are both made by skilled artisans in the traditions of centuries past, but bison hides are not stretched during the tanning process like cowhides are.
- Appearance: As far as quality goes, the same grades (full-grain, top-grain, etc.) apply to both bison leather and cow leather. As far as hide sizes go, even though a bison is a much larger animal than a cow, bison hides are generally smaller in size because they’re not stretched like cowhides. Additionally, bison leather has a distinctive grain pattern that distinguishes it from cow leather.
For a more thorough look at cow leather vs. bison leather, check out this article.