The Best Budget Leather Jacket: Schott LC940D Review

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It is often said that a leather jacket is one item that you can’t afford to skimp on. Fake leather or cheap real leather jackets are, in general, horrible. The “leather” feels and looks nasty, the fit is usually off, and overall the jacket just exudes cheapness. Simply pick up any of the leather jackets in most fast-fashion stores if you don’t believe me. Leather jackets are an item that will, if they look good, make you look like a total fucking badass, and if not, make you look like someone who is attempting to look like a total fucking badass and failing miserably. A rule of thumb that I’ve often heard is that one must spend at least $600/£400 to find a jacket in the former category (unless you’re thrifting, of course, but that has it own set of challenges and indirect costs).

I’m here to shatter that rule of thumb by presenting you with a jacket I have found to be utterly fantastic at a much more budget-friendly pricetag: the Schott LC940D.

Schott NYC is a company synonymous with leather jackets. Wikipedia tells me they’ve been making them since 1928, and that they invented the iconic Perfecto double-rider jacket. In short, they’re kind of a big deal. They are also rather expensive: the cheapest leather jacket I found on their website is $500, on sale from $650. Their popular Café Racer and Perfecto models are mostly around $700. A lesser-known fact about Schott, however, is that they also have a cheaper line, with model numbers prefixed by the letters “LC”. The LC line is unfortunately mostly only available in Europe, but the cost savings are significant: the subject of this review is my LC940D, a classic moto / café racer, which I bought brand new for £147, or ~$220. Obviously not complete chump change, but certainly waaaay under the $600 “minimum”. (Disclaimer: The prices tend to fluctuate quite a lot. They’re currently at £162 but I’ve seen them vary between £150 and £200, and differ between sizes).

So the (relatively) low price is established. I’ll dedicate the rest of this review to examining the jacket itself.

Design

As I mentioned above, the jacket is a moto or café-racer design. For a quick rundown of its features:

  • The shell is 100% cowhide
  • The lining is polyester (quilted for warmth), with waxed cotton lining the pockets.
  • It fastens with a single central zip
  • It has three external and three internal pockets
  • Fit can be tweaked with two adjustable straps at the side, and cuff zippers
  • It has a band collar.

Materials and Construction

Let’s get the big one out of the way first: the jacket’s shell is made of a waxy cowhide, and I can confirm that it feels, for want of a better term, buttery. I’m certainly no expert on leather quality, but I have extensive experience of wandering around clothing shops and feeling up the staff leather jackets. I can confirm that this jacket feels far better than the plasticky crap of any similarly-priced leather I’ve come across. I’ve also copped a feel of jackets from pricier brands, from AllSaints to Sandro to Saint Laurent. Admittedly, one of the Saint Laurent ones did feel noticeably… butterier? But then, it was probably like £13478015, and compared to all the others I’ve come across, many of which were priced at £700+, I’ve honestly never noticed any real difference; if anything I’d have given mine the edge (not that I’m at all biased). Unfortunately one brand I’ve never come across in the flesh (lol flesh get it) is mainline Schott, so I can’t speak to the differences between the main and LC lines. Regardless, rest assured that the leather feels wonderful.

Moving onto the jacket’s other materials, the lining is standard polyester, and it’s quilted (filled with presumably more polyester) for warmth. This is one of the few areas where the jacket is mildly disappointing: there are quite a few “loose threads” of stuffing poking out of the seams in the quilting. This doesn’t bother me at all since I can neither see nor feel it when wearing the jacket, but it is less than perfect so I thought it was worth mentioning. On a slightly more troubling note, there are one or two areas on the outside of the jacket’s sleeves where some of the padding is poking through the seams, but again this is basically unnoticeable – I only found while closely examining every part of the jacket for the purposes of writing this review.

LC940D-quilting

On the subject of seams: the quality of them on this jacket is otherwise fantastic. The stitching is without fail perfectly uniform, which together with the black thread makes it as unobtrusive as one could hope for. I am yet to find a single loose thread or irregularity in the stitching of any of the seams on the jacket. Not the most exciting news, but for a jacket in almost the same price-range as Zara, it’s worth mentioning.

One thing I’d like to make a big deal out of is the quality of the zippers on this thing. No joke, I cannot overstate how utterly fucking orgasmic these zippers are. They’re heavy-duty, no-nonsense zippers with flawlessly smooth actuation, and they look lovely to boot. Honestly, this same jacket made out of cotton would be worth the price just for these zippers. They are quite simply sublime. The main central zip and cuff zips are fully exposed (to show off those gorgeous perfect chrome teeth to the world, obv), with tab zip pulls, while the pocket zips are concealed behind two strips of leather, and have ring pulls. The zippers are branded “Ideal”, which I had never heard of until now, but as a point of comparison I’d say they’re nicer than the RiRi zippers on my APC bomber.

LC940D-zipper

unzips

Fit and Sizing

When it comes to fit, a picture is worth a thousand words, right? Right. As I hope you can see from the pics, the fit is slim and flattering.

 

The first of these photos does also expose my biggest gripe with this jacket: on the side without a chest pocket, the leather consistently drapes in a rather odd way, producing a somewhat unnatural-looking vertical crease. On inspection of the jacket I think it’s something to do with the point on the inside of the jacket when the leather finishes and the lining begins – the jacket then tends to bend more where there is only one layer of leather rather than two. It’s not something that’s a huge deal to me, and obviously different individual jackets will crease in slightly different ways, but it’s something to keep in mind.

I mentioned earlier that the fit can be tweaked using the adjustable straps at the side, but honestly it seems like they’re mostly for show; adjusting them to a tighter setting just causes the leather to pucker and crease in a very unnatural way, while loosening them just makes them poke out the sides of the jacket.

Regarding sizing: in almost all of my clothes I’m an M or a 38. For this jacket I ordered an S because it was all they had in stock at the time. I had expected it to be too small, but when it arrived my only sizing complaint was that the armholes dug into my armpits a little. It wasn’t enough to be at all painful, and I’d heard that it’s worth going as tight as possible on leathers to accommodate stretching, so I stuck with it. It also seemed very heavy and stiff when it first arrived, which I put down to it being new. And indeed, after a few months wearing it, it is now incredibly comfortable – no armpit discomfort, and it’s softened and molded to me to the extent that it feels almost like a second skin (I mean, technically speaking…). The only problem with the fit for me is that the sleeves are a little short when I’m driving or doing other shit with my hands – but they fit perfectly when I have my hands by my sides, and I suppose you can’t have both. For reference, I’m 6’3″.

So obviously everyone is different and I’m only one person, but based on my experience my advice would be try on your normal size and one size down before you commit, if at all possible.

How I wear it

Let’s be honest, you don’t need me to tell you how to wear a black leather jacket, but in case you were in any doubt about just how badass you will look with one on, here are a few pictures to convince you.

 

Where to Buy

As I mentioned earlier, the jacket is mostly only available in Europe, but honestly even after paying for international shipping it’s probably still a steal, unless you get hit really brutally by customs. The cheapest place I could find in the UK was Amazon. For whatever reason the prices seem to fluctuate (and can sometimes vary between sizes), and Amazon seem to retain relatively little stock at any given time, but at the time of writing they’ve got every size except Small for £162, and they seem to restock frequently when stuff sells out (it’s also available on the German, French, and Italian sites, at different prices – so if you’re importing from outside the EU anyway it’s probably worth checking each of them to get the best price).

There are also other jackets in the LC line at similar pricepoints, including a collared moto and a bomber (with a removable fur collar). Unfortunately the only double rider / “perfecto” model I could find is quite a bit more expensive, but that might change at some point, so keep an eye out. Obviously I don’t have first-hand experience with any of the other models, but if the 940D is anything to go by then I’d assume they’re all pretty good. Although beware that my sizing advice might not apply to other models – the Amazon reviews on the double rider seem to suggest sizing up, for example.

If Amazon don’t have your model / size, or the price has gone up or something, I’ve seen quite a few LC jackets on eBay UK, so it might be worth checking there, or indeed other European eBays. Also, if you’re in France, Austria, Luxembourg or Belgium, Schott have a French store which has a bunch of LC jackets, some of which are on sale, so might be cheaper than Amazon depending on the specific jacket and size you’re looking for.

TL;DR: Looks good, feels good, details on point, incredibly good price. Buy it.

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