Project Description

Guest writer Tom Bluf has a passion for leather and in particular a passion for Perfecto jackets. These amazing jackets are the epitome of the classic leather biker look, made famous by of course, Marlon Brando in the film The Wild One. In this entry to The Manual Tom explains what you need to know about this amazing jacket and check out his cool video.

The Schott Perfecto should be a staple of every leatherman’s wardrobe. Even if you own Langlitz, sometimes your padded Columbia might be a bit ostentatious or heavy to sling on to meet friends at the pub and you need something a bit more understated; this is where the Schott Perfecto comes in.

Schott is by no means a poor relation of Langlitz, VK9 or similar – Schott is a thorough-bred in its own right; a pioneer of leather design and a quality brand. You might have gathered that I’m a major fan of the classic Schott Perfecto, and even when I’ve finally got the Langlitz I’m patiently saving for, my  Perfectos will be staying firmly in my gear cupboard. Chances are there’ll be a few more in there by then too.

Schott isn’t a cheap brand by any means, and while it’s more immediately affordable than Langlitz for example, a new one will still set you back around £650. The classic Perfecto is a style which is much imitated, but rarely bettered.

Many of us buy our gear online second-hand, and fortunately, Perfectos appear on eBay daily, all over the world. You can pick up a decent example in good condition for less than £200. Interestingly a lot are sold from Japan, where I understand the market for the classic motorcycle jacket is very buoyant.

I own three Schott Perfectos, and that isn’t entirely because I just happen to love the style. It’s quite tricky to find exactly the right fit – it’s not as simple as just ordering one in your size, even though they’re off the peg. I’ve bought my three in trying to find the right one for me.

All Schott Perfectos look the same at first glance; black leather, asymmetrical zipped front with snap down lapels, epaulets, zipped cuffs and a belt. That’s pretty much where the similarity ends though. For the uninitiated, like I was when I first decided to buy a Schott, the variants are baffling; different fits, different lengths, different leather types and different styling details makes buying your first one confusing. Just Googling Schott Perfecto sizing brings up questions from lots of frustrated people who can’t decide which model to purchase.

I made the below video to try and explain the differences between two very popular models; the 618 and the 118.

The 618 (the first jacket in the video) is the ‘classic’ – a more 1950’s fit, short and sitting above the waist band of your jeans, more slim fitted and figure-hugging. Made of stiffer heavyweight steerhide leather, it feels amazing on. If you’re a fan of shine on your gear, like me, then this won’t disappoint. Schott suggests for this model, you might be more comfortable in a size larger than you usually take. Like many leathermen, I prefer tighter fitting leathers, so went for my actual size, and I like the fit around my body. What I don’t like however, is the length. I wear leather in my day-to-day life as much as possible – I’ll always choose a leather jacket over any other coat, whether I’m nipping to Tesco or meeting friends for a drink. The 618, for me, isn’t suited to that – to my eyes, it looks ridiculously short. Teamed with a hoody or jumper, its shortness is even more obvious. I know from several other Schott obsessives I’ve met over the years, this is a common complaint. For me, it’s more suited to play than everyday wear.

The 618 Perfecto

The 118 Perfecto

The 118 fits very differently to its brother the 618. It has a fuller fit, and is much less figure-hugging (skip to 05:15 in the video to see). The leather is different – it’s made from heavyweight naked cowhide, which is softer and more supple, and feels more broken in. The leather is more matte than the 618 and most importantly, for me, it’s an inch longer than the 618, coming in at 26” down the back. It doesn’t look or feel as fitted, and is probably more suited to being layered underneath with jumpers and hoodies – a much more practical jacket for day-to-day wear. I had to have the sleeves altered on mine, and had over an inch taken off by a tailor – it’s worth investigating on the Schott website the exact sizes of each model and seeing which will work for you best. The leather is really beautiful and very soft. For this reason however, the collar isn’t suited to being put up, which is a look I like with Perfectos.

I love both the 618 and the 118, but for me the 118 has the edge, simply because I can wear it out any time without thinking about whether it looks too short. The 118 is more comfortable, not just for its length, but its fit and supple material.

I’ve kept the three Perfectos I own (a 613 one star, and the 118 and 618 in the video) because I like them all for different reasons – however should you buy one and not like the fit, they sell well online. If you buy a second hand one, you’re likely to make back what you spent when you come to sell.

It was the classic Perfecto style jacket that got me into leather in the first place; I was transfixed by effortlessly cool looking men wearing them. A lot of leathermen already know the awesome feeling of wearing a genuine Schott Perfecto, but for those of you might not have tried one, I can only suggest you have a look online and consider buying your first; I don’t think you’ll regret it.