Bought my first leather jacket in Florence (2014) after checking out 30-50 stores. I loved his jackets the most because: high quality, they were very nice looking (not too trendy or out-dated), reasonably priced, great customer service (without any of the annoying sales tactics listed below). He passed my stringent test with flying colors. I’ve repasted my forum comment from TripAdvisor below:
I went to Italy in 2014, wanted to buy a leather jacket. Read ALL the reviews and pages online, and forums, and then checked out about 30-50 stores. There are really only about 3 stores that I liked:
1. Star Leather – on the side of the basilicia (where I bought my jacket, best price for great quality). Classic styling.
2. David Cerasi – by the water (where I would like to buy next, BEST STYLE & QUALITY). Very trendy styling.
3. Noi Leather – kind of by the water. (great but also trendy, but highest prices). Extremely trendy. Not my style and also expensive. But great leather for sure.
Here is my advice to tell the difference between good and bad leather stores.
1. Salesmen lines – If the salesman is too high pressure OR you feel the pressure even when they’re not being high pressure, leave. If they’re relying on pressure or entertainment to make the sale. Leave. If they do the stupid trick where they hold a lighter under the jacket. If they ask you where you’re from and then claim to have a family member in your city town or nearby, LEAVE. If they ask what your hobbies are and then say, “OH HEY, the other salesguy does that too!” LEAVE. If they force you to try on a jacket even when you say you only want to look, LEAVE! If they ask you what price range you want to buy, LEAVE.
2. Selection – The best stores are like boutiques with a limited selection. They’ll have like 3 different styles in 3 different colors (for both men and women each). And then a couple older models and a couple “weird” models. Maybe it’s a casual store with every-day casual style and then 1 or 2 trendy super-stylized pieces. Or maybe it’s a trendy store with a runway Hollywood style and then 1 or 2 casual pieces. What I just mentioned are examples of the best stores. THE WORST leather stores are the ones with an endless selection, like a hundred 100+ styles in all kinds of colors, and every shape fit and style, AVOID THESE AT ALL COSTS. Another note to make is that the best leather stores will typically sell only their own in-house made jackets, they won’t carry other brands or multiple brands. If they’re not making their own jackets, they’re probably not a quality leather producer/seller.
3. Color – I’ve come to find that the stuff made with the best leather will tend to show off the leather. And this is done by showing the TEXTURE of the leather. You should see like darker and lighter patches of it (like marbled, as if the leather was only tinted). If the leather has been totally shaved and sanded down perfectly smooth and dyed perfectly to one color (imagine like a car paint job), then you kind of know the leather wasn’t worth showing off. Blemishes and imperfections are beautiful, look for them.
4. Process – the way it’s made. The way it’s tanned, the stitching on the inside, attention to details. The way it smells. It should smell like nice leather, not an overly chemical or plastic smell. Real leather needs to breathe, so be cautious if you see it stored in plastic or if they bring a jacket out from the back and you see it taken out of a plastic bag.
5. Storage – the way it’s stored is another obvious indicator of quality. If you see lots of items around the store (or items brought out from the back) packaged in plastic, that’s a very good sign that it’s low-grade leather (probably made/shipped from China). Plastic is waterproof and a cheap way to protect jacket during shipping. High-grade leather is never stored in plastic as leather needs to breathe or else it’ll dry out.
I would say the worst leather shops/salesmen are pushy, desperate, overly-engaged, overly entertaining. They’re all over you and salivating at the idea of you buying their crap. They’ll say endless things to keep the jokes and good times going. You’ll feel like you’re hanging out with a friend. They’ll list all the features of the jacket in a very gimmicky way.
And then I would say the best leather shops/salesmen are PROUD. They may come off as a little arrogant or not trying to sell but they respect their work and their products. They have great referrals and they may be a little put-off if you can’t see the difference between their work and everyone else’s. With that said, they are professional, not dicks. This is THEIR leather and their personal work and they’ll be happy to tell you how they made it.
I bought my jacket from “Star Leather” in Florence, Italy (https://www.yelp.com/biz/star-leather-factory-di-bolourian-alireza-firenze)
- Sorry, he doesn’t do online orders anymore because of difficulties. Hard to show colors (other than black) accurately and people complaining about fit and what not. Shipping and re-customizations were too much hassle for him.