Sapayol bespoke leather jacket: Review

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Wednesday, September 12th 2018
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Sapayol is an online leather-jacket company, offering made-to-measure pieces manufactured in Turkey.

Like many start-ups, it was founded by a young guy who thought there was a hole in the market - but had no prior experience in the industry.

Here it’s Ediz Binder, who lives in New York but is of Swiss/Turkish family, and got into leather while trying to find a good jacket while visiting his family in Turkey.

Starting from scratch meant he had to learn a lot, and spend a lot of time sourcing. Although the product is very good, he admits he doesn’t know everything.

Perhaps, though, that means you get to pay a little less.

Ediz asked me to trial the service, and the jacket pictured above was delivered a few weeks ago.

Sapayol offers four styles of jackets, covering most of the classics, in two leathers and silver or gold hardware.

This is the flight jacket (the Linden) in brown, with silver.

The process involves picking your design details, then entering your measurements online: height, shoulders, back, chest, waist, arms etc.

There are videos for each stage showing you where to take them.

Nevertheless, I was sceptical about the value of these measurements. I’ve tried similar services in the past, and find them unreliable unless the measurer is experienced (ideally, a tailor).

It was only the additional stage of the process that made me think it was worth trying Sapayol: sending trial jackets in two sizes, so you can try them and suggest adjustments.

Seeing physical garments gives you much more confidence in how the finished product will fit. Particularly given that how much excess a brand decides to add for your sleeve, or waist, on top of body measurements is subjective.

Over time I’ve learnt I’m basically a size 40 with a size 38 waist (often Medium and Small respectively) and so it proved with the sample garments - the shoulders of one and the waist of the other.

I could then suggest small adjustments to the sleeve or body length based on those samples.

The quality of Sapayol’s materials is good, but it’s one area in which I think they could improve.

The leather has all the basics right: full grain, vegetable-tanned lambskin. But it doesn’t have the richness or suppleness of the top-end brands I own, like Seraphin, Dunhill, Chapal, Ralph Lauren Purple Label, Cromford or The Real McCoy’s.

Of course, some of those brands don’t work in lambskin. But I have tried lambskin from some of them, and this doesn’t feel quite top of the line. The same goes for the sheepskin collar.

Ediz and I talked about this, and about the large amount of research and sourcing work he has done. In the end there’s no easy way to measure the quality - but I certainly prefer the leathers from those other brands, based on their softness, suppleness, and how they have worn. And the quality is quite consistent across them. 

The fit of the jacket, when it arrived, was very good.

This is always a relief, because fitting at a distance is probably the hardest part of the process to perfect, and I’m pleased Ediz has it working.

The shoulders and waist were good, as were the sleeves. I might have it a touch longer in the body, but not much. My sloping shoulders don’t do the back any favours, but we’re not at a level where that would be corrected.

Ediz and I did talk on the phone about the fit, and what he would change about the sample jackets based on my measurements.

That level of interaction might have been the reason for this strong fit - though I’d worry slightly how scalable that level of discussion with the customer is.

The make on the jacket is good: clean, precise and consistent. Which again is an easy point to fall down if you’re not used to working with factories.

You expect the same quality of finish and stitching on a Sapayol jacket as on one from any large brand, and that’s what this delivers.

As noted at the time, my suede jacket from Craftsman Co in Hong Kong (who offer a similar service to Sapayol) did fall down slightly there, with some slightly erratic sewing.

I’m told they have improved since then, though I haven’t seen any examples.

One other area in which again I think Sapayol could improve is design. Less the cut of overall jackets themselves - these are pretty standard - but the details.

For example, the plunge pockets in the side of my jacket don’t really function - they’re set too far back to be able to get your hands in. This is something I mentioned to Ediz and he said they’re reconsidering.

The hardware is also a little cheap-feeling. I would normally have yellow metals on a jacket like this, but the yellow option I saw was very bright. And the quality itself is good without being top-notch - YKK Excella, which is a little below RiRi or Raccagni in most respects.

I also don’t think the brown is necessarily a good shade. It’s rather red and doesn’t feel that natural.

This is a very subjective point, of course. I'm also told there is also a dark-brown option coming.

My thoughts on this jacket were brought into sharp focus last week, when I was browsing the new collection at Dunhill.

I tried on a leather bomber jacket with a fur collar and quilted lining. The leather (calfskin) was absolutely wonderful - buttery yet rugged. The hardware was great. And everything functioned very well. In all those respects, a clear step above Sapayol. 

Of course, the fit wasn’t quite right - but this is leather, not tailoring, and for my body shape all I would really have to do is buy the 40 and slim the waist.

And of course, it was twice the price. It was just over £2000 where Sapayol is just over £1000. I could afford to spend the extra amount, and would appreciate the difference; but that won’t be the case for everyone.

Overall, Sapayol has some very good points, and the product is solid. Great make, great fit (the hardest bit) and nice materials.

It is also a company at the start of its journey, and is already improving.

I’d certainly recommend them today based on fit - particularly if it’s something you have particular issues with. And probably on value. Just not as the topmost level of quality.

Photography: James Holborow

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G T

Simon
Can you insert motorcycle armour in here (or do you know any leather brands that you can?)

Ken

Very interesting article, thank you. I’ve ordered a coat from Aero Leather in Scotland and it will be interesting to see if their “distance fitting” works!

Chancellor

You talk about the leather from other companies being more supple as well as more hard wearing rugged.

I’m interested how you assess the second of those (hard wearing/rugged) without owning and wearing the item for a few years. That would be useful skill for me to have in identifying quality.

El pogiguy

Is this bespoke or MTM level make? Bit confused bc of the title of the article.

JB

Interesting that you went with the flight model, since your conclusion of the stoffa flight model was the style doesn’t suit you? Although a leather biker might’ve been a bit too far outside your comfort zone? 🙂

Anonymous

Do you think this would be similar in quality (materials, make) to Stoffa’s offerings?

Anonymous

Simon
Sorry for slight digression, but anywhere that is a good place to start looking for RTW winter / autumn jackets?

Will

The guy has no tailoring background. No access to the best materials. No scale. No knowledge of trends, or apparent style. He’s just piecing things together. How would he ever be able to come anywhere close to something from RLPL or Tom Ford (my personal go-tos for RTW leather jackets)? Or James Grose, for instance (great stuff through No Man Walks Alone; does MTM). Go learn to be a tailor, or a designer, then build something real. This is cheap outsourcing.

Ediz Binder

Hi Will, I’m the guy.

I think I know where your anger is coming from – I too get very upset about people that lack care and put out bad products. I do think that you’ve gotten a wrong idea though, because SAPAYOL fundamentally aims to excel in all aspects and bring out the best in people. That’s why I’d like to address some of your points.

I work with a small atelier of five tailors. The pattern maker has studied and worked in Paris before moving to Istanbul. They all have been working together for decades and have luxury fashion houses as their clients.
I don’t have the tailoring background. They do. And my strength is knowing good craftsmanship when I see it.

Regarding materials:
Lining: We use the finest Bemberg lining. Some of the brands you’ve mentioned use viscose, acetate or even polyester lining for many of their products.
Zippers: The Real McCoy’s (love the brand!) is using standard (non-brushed) 5mm Talon zippers on their A-2 for example. I chose not to use Talon because they have a rep for reliability issues (TRMcC is probably using them because they want to stay as close to the original flight jackets as possible). Iron Heart is using the same 8mm YKK Excella on their flight jacket that we use. It looks like James Grose is using a YKK Excella on their main zip and standard YKK on their pocket zippers (judging from images only in this case).
I believe that the main issue Simon has with our zippers, is that they’re size 8mm, which makes them less smooth to operate than the 5mm most brands use and he wanted a brushed brass coating.
If anyone wants to nerd out on zippers, you’ll make me very happy 🙂
Leather: In terms of evenness of grain and color, absence of blemishes, durability, and quality of tanning, I’ll take it up with any leather right now. As Simon mentioned, it’s very hard to compare leathers. As an example, Real McCoy’s often uses veg tanned leather which they coat with a different dye while we use a fully aniline-dyed leather. Here, we really talk about something being different, not better or worse. I do think that we can still improve on the softness of our lamb leather, knowing that that turn away some potential customers who prefer a more robust feel.

I’m not going to argue with you whether I know trends or have style. You’re allowed to have a different taste.

I encourage you to check out this video on our website that shows the craftsmen working: https://sapayol.com/who-we-are

I’m offended by your “cheap outsourcing” comment. Not because of me, but because of the fine tailors I work with who have refused all their lives to do cheap and instead stayed true to their craft.

I hope that cleared some things up.

Hristo

Mr. Binder,
you are a cool guy. I like your reaction to the readers comment.
I wish you success with your business.
Considering that Chapal increased their prices threefold in the last 5 years, I suppose that the demand for leather jackets is growing and you will have your chance to grow your business.
Best regards

Ben

Great review on an interesting item.

There are a couple of Korean outfits that do something similar, and all trade topline hardware/leather for lower pricing. If properly conditioned, though, a mid-tier leather like Sapayol’s is to me visually indistinguishable from the lux stuff (for useful comparison photos, the Neiman Marcus website illustrates a wide range of leathers under the same lighting), and I don’t much value the additional suppleness (a cow is a cow is a cow). As you suggest, off the rack works fine for most anatomies when it comes to leathergoods. RTW jackets from brands like RL Blue/Polo, Aeros, Schott and junhashimoto, then, have served me well.

Bobby

A grass-fed Alpine cow is not a malnourished tick-infested cow is not a corn-fed Canadian cow. With leather, provenance is paramount.

Ben

Don’t be silly Bobby

We’re talking here about the difference between Sapayol and Dunhill, between RL Purple and RL Blue. Scars, burns and blemishes don’t make it to the vast majority of any of these brands’ products, and I’m 99% certain you can’t tell me which jacket is made from a corn-fed Canadian cow. (Do cattle farmers read PS?)

Anonymous

Simon

I have to say, going by the pictures, the fit looks excellent. For me, I’d have preferred buttons instead of a zip.

COLIN

Would agree with your points on hardwear and collars both would improve the look significantly. How are you finding the Blackhorse jeans and Workers UL t-shirt?

Ediz Binder

First of all, Simon, I think think the jacket looks great on you! Very happy how it turned out.

Getting the fit right on a jacket is paramount to us, so we’ll definitely continue to spend an unparalleled amount of time discussing preferences and measurements. If we’re tailoring 400 jackets a year, I still get half a day for every order. Plus, I discuss every order with the tailors who each have 35 years of experience.

I’m personally very pleased to hear that our very first batch of brown leather is within reach of the fine brands you’ve mentioned and there’s no doubt that we’ll make leaps with each new batch.

A darker brown leather is definitely in the works and I’ve found a more natural looking light gold hardware option together with YKK Excella that is going to replace the bright brass you’ve seen. We’re basically ready for your next order 😉 .

I can only say that this sort of critical, nuanced, and balanced review is what we were looking for to aid potential customers. Thanks again.

Pierre

I think this jacket is not so great.
The leather looks cheap.

ANM

Not sure if this is a first, but bravo to the company owner for stepping in and answering questions…

The jackets generally look good, but I really wonder about the need to do custom tailoring on a garment that unlike a suit jacket, is almost assumed to not be tight fitting. After all, there is an entire range of potential garments underneath, like bulky jumpers. etc.

that, and the fact leather doesn’t have the drape of suiting material, or rely on the lining for any shaping or style…

As a style note, over the years, I have stayed away from the mixing of different materials, like leather, and wool, etc…I find they age/wear at different rates…any thoughts on this, or have things changed?

ANM

Simon,

Thanks for the reply…

With regards to ‘aging’ – I find that the stretch weave material that can used st the sleeve cuffs, (excuse me for not knowing the name) the bottom of the jacket, and the collar, can pill, or lose elasticity.

When new, these parts were tight against the wrist, or waist, and when they become lose, one is made constantly aware of the garment’s aging….in addition – particularly on the waist, some of the shape goes…

Ilija

Thank you for this one.

Simon

Seems like a very nice business model. And interesting to get so much details from the company. Could be something for all products.
Really clean design. I think the colour looks great.
About sleeves, do they get shorter with use? I mean as they normally crease ar the elbows.
Cheers!

Simon

Ha, that may explain some wrinkles. May be too little too late.

Stanley

First of all, im not a fashion guy,

but when i visit Sapayol website and the photo above (Simon’s Sapayol jacket),

the first impression is UGLY, sorry, @EDIZ BINDER no offense at all.

but when you go to see https://www.cromfordleather.co.uk/, you can see the difference.

Their jacket is classic and leather color is beautiful, even their online purchase experience: (for oversea customer, they will send you a form to fill in your size, and cut a demo jacket and send to you for the fitting)

personally i would like spend my money on above options even it is 30-50% expensive than Sapayol

Ediz Binder

Hi Stanley, none taken. Everyone is allowed to have their own taste.
Just wanted to let readers know that we also offer the option of sending a fitting jacket.

James

Hi Simon,

I recently bought your horsehide jacket (Aero Leather Co) on Marrkt – thanks for selling it! As recommended by your article on ‘How To Wear a Horsehide Jacket’, I tend to wear it with raw jeans (E8 slim tapered, by Blackhorse Lane) and either a sweatshirt (medium grey – Sunspel) or shetland jumpers (light blue – Anderson and Shepherd; burgundy – Mr P). As winter is almost upon us, I’m looking to get a pair of boots that I can wear with the above – or variations of, and am considering getting the dark brown Wolverines you’ve previously praised.

The query I have, however, has to do with colour and contrast.

In my mind, dark brown boots with a similar shade of dark brown leather jacket and dark denim, do not provide a strong contrast between the upper and lower halves. I know you’ve worn this combination above, but perhaps the reddishness/lighter shade of the jacket meant this wasn’t an issue here and drew the eye upwards?

Would you say this is not, in actual fact, as big a deal as I suggest…as more important is the pairing of rugged materials? Or, as I know your preference of ‘darker shoes than trousers‘ does not apply to casual wear, perhaps a simple answer would be to get a pair of light brown boots such as tan brogue boots or light brown suede desert boots. Or to wear a bright scarf ha.

Of course, this is most likely much too overthought on my part, but therein lies some of the fun in menswear.

Many thanks,

James

James

Haha I’m sure you’re right. Many thanks for the reply!

Peter

All credit to this guy – the unfortunate thing about this type of garment is that they are at their best when they are well worn and battered. You have remarked on this several times in other posts.
I can’t say that I’m fond of the sheepskin top collar but that is a matter of taste.