Sartoria Melina nubuck bomber jacket

Friday, June 21st 2019
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I liked the made-to-measure jacket I got from Sartoria Melina in 2017 so much, that last year I commissioned something new.

This is it: their bomber-jacket style, in a tan colour of their signature nubuck leather.

Having worn it for a few months (these shots were from earlier in the year, when a scarf was required) I think I prefer it to the first in terms of fit and style, but probably not colour.

The problem with making a blazer-style jacket out of leather (or suede) is that your expectations are at the same level as bespoke tailoring - or made to measure at the least.

But leather doesn’t work like that. First, it just cannot be fitted as well and shaped the same way wool can - even my Cifonelli suede jacket, made on my bespoke pattern, doesn’t fit the way wool does.

Then second - and more importantly here - most leather and suede jackets are made to measure, not bespoke. This is partly for reason number one: there is less point doing all the extra pattern development and internal handwork of bespoke.

But this means you can’t expect the same type of fit. It can be right in everything two dimensional: length, chest, waist, sleeves etc. But not in the trickier 3D things, like the twist of a shoulder.

So while I still like that first blazer (above), I should probably have had it fitted a little looser and changed my expectations to something more relaxed and casual.

A bomber jacket is much easier to fit.

It is meant to be a little blousy in the body, and the length and sleeves even have some leeway, given the ribbing.

I know from experience that I am basically a size 50 in the chest and shoulders for a jacket like this, but 48 in the waist. And that’s what we did with Melina: I tried on both sizes, checked I liked the chest of one and the waist of the other, and then made that (with small adjustments for the body and sleeve length).

Indeed, in general this would be my recommendation for any made-to-order leather or suede outerwear.

Make sure you can try sizes, and pick elements from each one. It makes it much more likely you’ll get what you are expecting. Which is important, given adjustments are largely impossible.

The element of this bomber I’m less sure about is the colour.

The same dark brown as the blazer would have been very versatile and classic. But it felt a little boring, and I already have a brown suede from Valstar.

So I went with this tan colour, with a similar classic Valstar colour in mind: that tan or tobacco, which looks great with jeans or chinos.

In nubuck, it doesn’t quite come out like that. The colour is a little stronger, a little deeper. It’s more orange and more unusual.

That doesn’t mean it can’t look great. It does, just with a smaller spectrum of colours.

In terms of trousers, I’ve found it works with light and mid-grey, with cream or pale beige, and with some dark greens. But not with denim or other strong colours.

It’s also particularly nice with green accessories, as you can see with the scarf here.

I would still really recommend it as a colour - but only if you had something similar in dark brown, and perhaps navy, already.

The fit, on the other hand, was exactly what I wanted: more fitted than a normal 50 off the rack, but still blousy in the waist as the style should be.

For those that remember it, that was an issue with another jacket, from Ralph Lauren Purple Label.

In that case, I bought the 48 rather than the 50, prioritising fit in the waist over length and shoulders. That was the wrong choice, and in the end I gave it away to a friend.

A shame - but it did make him very happy.

(As a passing note, it’s worth saying again that if you have the same issue, always buy the right size for the shoulders and chest. A leather specialist like Cromford can always take in the waist. It’s not an easy job, as you have to take all the ribbing off, but it can be done.)

Of course, the craftsmanship on this Melina jacket is far better than that Purple Label one. The edges and the external seams are all sewn by hand, as are the buttonholes.

For more on that beautiful work, see my first post on Melina here, when Jamie and I visited them in Naples.

It’s also worth looking at that and my post on the first jacket, the blazer, to get a sense of the nubuck leather. It’s not only buttery soft, but has a matte texture that makes it subtler than the vast majority of leather jackets (close-up below).

Overall then, a beautiful jacket from Melina that is slightly limited in its usage. But then, I already have too many leather jackets: one unusual one is no bad thing.

If anyone is interested, the Melina team are back in London next week - June 26-27, at The Langham. Contact [email protected]

Jackets start at €2900 - this includes pieces like mine, just not alligator, fur or other exotics.

Photography, James Holborow. Shot in and around the SEH Kelly shop in London.

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Jakob Eskilsson

Hi Simon,

I sent a mail to you yesterday with this question, but I thought that I could post it here too.

I am a 28 year old tailor from Sweden. I decided five years ago to follow my dream and learn how to sew clothes. After one year in a basic course in sewing and pattern making I started at a tailor school in Gothenburg. I went there for three years and graduated last June. After that I have started my own business as a tailor and will be trying in the long-term to build a group of clients. I still feel that I have lot to learn and I am still very hungry for new knowledge within tailoring.

I have now been offered a scholarship to be with another more established tailor in the EU. It is for two month, and I am now searching for a tailor that would be nice to spend two month with. My goal is to find someone that speaks English (don’t need to be perfect), are a nice person and have a lot of knowledge within tailoring. I write to you to ask if you have any recommendations? You have visit a lot of tailors around in Europe, is there any one you think of that you think would be positive to have a trainee for two month?

Thank you for any advice!

Anon

Des Merrion advertises paid-for training opportunities through his website.

https://www.desmerrion.com/careers/

Can’t comment on the course but having been a customer of Des’s in the past I can attest to the quality of his work vis-à-vis that of the London-based tailoring houses with which people are usually more familiar with.

Nick Inkster

I concur. Des has mentored a number of aspiring tailors and, given his skill and knowledge, he would be a good place to start.

Good luck!

Anonymous

He’s just down the road from me. Always seems very busy. Leeds will be a considerably cheaper place to live than London.

Bob

Does the EU include the UK for the purpose of your scholarship? I know some London tailors who’ve taken on student apprentices. But London is expensive, so you may wish to look for better locations in terms of cost of living versus your scholarship funds.

Robin

I think that’s a beautiful rich colour.
It certainly shouldn’t be worn with grey trousers . I would go for a green or navy trousers .
A great look fir autumn .

David

Cream would be nice I think. In my experience pairing browns and tans with navy has often proven tricky. Surprisingly it’s fine if you have something like a navy scarf, but as soon as you have two big blocks of brown and navy, they seem to clash. I wonder if that’s been your experience too.

JB

Interesting, I’ve always found brown and navy one of the best combinations. I’d agree this doesn’t go well with grey. My go to would also be bottle green, navy or chocolate.

G.

That’s actually not a bad color. It’d work with lighter wash jeans.

Anonymous

Hi Simon,

I think this is a very nice jacket. I’ve got a similar colour, the tan in the Private White VC suede bomber which I absolutely love. I chose the tan over the navy which PWVC also had. Took me a while to come to that decision. I think similar sentiment to you really, a bit limited in what you can wear it with but i don’t regret the decision one bit. I was extremely please with the PWVC suede jacket as sizing in Valstar just did not work for me. My question to you is why do you not think it works well with denim? I wear my PWVC with Cone Mills denim, the same as your Lot 1 and think it looks great. Could you extrapolate on your view. Many thanks.
J

Tristan Rayson-Hill

Personally I think the colour is beautiful Simon. I note that someone else has commented that lighter wash denim would work well, which was my initial thought. Can you comment on how much this colour and the comments about its restrictions are personal taste as my personal view is that you could wear it with a lot of different combinations of indigo and aged denim.

AJ

Hi Simon, do you have any thoughts on the Private White VC moleskin bomber as a cheaper alternative to this?

Sam

Stunning colour and the accents are nice as well. I noticed another reader suggested it would go with navy pants and you found that it did not work with navy; I have had similar experience with such colour pairings. Perhaps a lighter blue would work? Even if not, it still works exceptionally well with the shades of grey, green and cream!

I very much like your writing style too. Informative, and well composed.

Gonzague

Nice. Is it lined?

Andy Poupart

That’s a beautiful A1, Simon. The color reminds me of the first A1 I had made by Craftsman, which was a polo suede. I have found over the years that I wear it far less than the navy A1 I also have from them. So, how would you compare the two (I think you have a Craftsman A1, right?).

I also have the Private White VC jacket an earlier commenter asked about. It is less dressy, but I find I wear it more than the two suede A1 jackets.

Anonymous

When previous suede jackets were commissioned (particularly the Cifonelli) I commented, perhaps cynically but from experience, that they probably wouldn’t be worn as much as one would wish. Suede is great for boots and shoes but difficult for outerwear – it doesn’t have the shower proofing of synthetics nor the hardiness of ordinary leather, nor the fit of wool. Moreover, stylistically, they drift more out of fashion than in. Previously I’ve asked how many times the Cifonelli has been worn, a reasonable question given the expense, but find the adventures in blousons and suedes slightly directionless and, with respect, given results, rather expensive. Anyone not within a position to editorially explore fashion would not be commissioning in this same way. With RTW providing so many more useful, fashionable options I simply ask what sartorial goal is being pursued (other than the endless search for expression we all undertake). I think it better to focus on purpose, perfect the design ideal then, finally, commission the garment.

Sloan

Very nice and excellent fit. The tobacco body and brown knits are pretty close to the original russets of the old A-1 jackets, so you’re in the right ballpark. Thanks to Top Gun, the public perception is that bomber jackets are leather sack-like things, but really yours is far closer to the sim-fit original 30s designs -it has something of the Amilia Erhearts about it (minus the front pockets).

Colin

Hi Simon…..this looks quite similar in colour to your Craftsman jacket. Since for both that and this Melina commission the colour has turned out slightly differently from what you imagined, is there anyway of avoiding this or is the potential downside of commissions based on small, potentially inconsistent samples? I’m going to commission something from Craftsman as to echo your comments they seem to have actively taken on board customer feedback and improved; are you going to try them again?

Chancellor

How would you say this compares in make to a Valstarino or a jacket by Seraphin?

Jason

Simon,
I see your point about the colour – a little too ‘easyjet’ !
A risk of fellow flaneurs shouting ‘are we delayed again’?
Jason

Christopher

Dear Simon,

a very nice fit, but the price is above limits. Is the jacket worth the price, or will you more often wear your Valstarino or RL purple label? I guess the tailor’s work was very good, but is the fit much better?
In relation to the colour: you mentioned that brown seems to be boring, have you considered olive as colour?

Best regards
Christopher

Phil

It seems a lot of money for a jacket that doesn’t require as much work as a tailored leather jacket. Surely there are less panels to work with and the fit are not as precise as a tailored jacket needs to be. The detailing are wonderful and beautiful but at this price point is a lot to spend on a jacket where it only gets worn mostly at the weekend.

Mike Galambos

Hi Simon

I’ve just bought myself a leather jacket and would like to know how to care for it. Looking through your articles there are a few leather jackets but I can’t find one on care for leather. There is a lot of information on the internet but a lot of it is contradictory (some say lanolin some say anything but lanolin). What should I be using or doing to keep my soft lamb-leather jacket in good condition without preventing it from taking on a nice tarnish?

Thanks

Mike

Rupesh

Hi Simon,

I have a question regarding the bomber jackets. I am keen on purchasing my first bomber jacket and my preference is a non leather material. I discovered PWVC offer moleskin bomber jackets in Navy, Chocolate brown and Lavet ( light green). The navy looks pretty classic as its dark and the chocolate brown shade is not that dark as you would expect, hence I was hesitant. Do you have any preference or do you know any other brands that may offer moleskin bomber jackets.

Thanks

Rupesh

Michael

Hi Simon,
I’ve read some comments regarding the moleskin bomber jacket from Private White. Do you think this kind of bomber jacket suits all body types? I have a relatively long neck,and my lower body starting from hips is bigger than my upper body though i am not fat. Would this jacket work?

Michael

Would the Valstarino be more appropriate?

Michael

I am looking for a fall jacket ,i like the Valstarino but if the cut it’s not for me what do you recommend?

Michael

I didn’t imagine it will be that hard, though I would like a casual fall jacket (not a sport coat) where I can go out to a pub,maybe visit someone or going to a museum ,this sort of activities. In terms of brands I really don’t know exactly, I was thinking at Private White but I am open to others as well. I find it hard because I am a beginner and want to change my t shirt jeans wardrobe and elevate it.

Ian Vassallo

Hi Simon,
With a suede jacket this style but in camel what would be the best shoe to wear. A brown low Brogue, a polacchino , a Chelsea boot in camel or light brown or something totally different .? Thank you and keep it up

ian vassallo

OK ,many thanks for your advice. Its a Valstarino style camel suede . i think a tobacco would be the best bet cause its not too dark and not matching. A Beige boot is definitely a no no dont you think?