When it comes to Action Hero inspired outerwear, there’s simply nothing like a classic brown leather jacket to evoke a sense of stylish adventure. Whether your inspiration is Steve McQueen, Indiana Jones, James Bond or even Captain America, it’s just one of those pieces that ever guy should have in his closet.
Sadly, in our hunt for a great leather jacket we often find ourselves with only three choices: patiently wait until we find a great one on sale, spend $200 to $300 for a cheap version with a thinner leather and poor construction, or invest $800 (or more) to get our ‘grail’ jacket. There just doesn’t seem to be many options on the market that offer the ideal combination of higher quality leather, sound construction and great style in the $400 to $600 range most of us can afford.
Which brings us to the Buffalo Jackson Legacy Leather Jacket. It’s $489.95 price tag certinaly falls into the sweet spot. But does it also deliver the quality and style we want? Let’s dig into our review to find out!
About Buffalo Jackson
Buffalo Jackson Trading Co. was founded by Xan Hood in Matthews, North Carolina in 2009, making it a relatively young company in the world of heritage inspired men’s style. But by consistently delivering solid quality and great designs at a fair price, the brand grew quickly through word-of-mouth online. And in 2013 they moved into their current headquarters in Matthews, North Carolina and opened their first brick-and-mortar store.
While Buffalo Jackson does offer a range of soft flannel shirts, vintage style wool jackets and warm fleece outerwear, it’s primary focus is on leather jackets, bags and accessories. For example, we’ve included their Dakota Waxed Canvas Messenger Bag ($319.95) as one of the best alternatives for Daniel Craig’s Belstaff Messenger Bag for years now (you can read that post here). But all their designs share a common theme, a blend of Old West attitude and rugged outdoor practicality with a contemporary spin, that will appeal to anyone that’s a fan of workwear style.
What I love about the Buffalo Jackson Legacy Leather Jacket
When it comes to leather jackets, obviously one of the most important factors to consider is the leather itself. And the hide Buffalo Jackson has used for the Legacy is something truly unique.
First off, this stuff is heavy. On their website, Buffalo Jackson states that the thickness of the full grain cow hide is between .75mm and .85mm (for reference a proper motorcycle jacket will use leather somewhere in the 1.4mm to 1.8mm range). Personally, I think Buffalo Jackson are being a little conservative with their measurements, but I won’t argue with them. What I can tell you is my size large Legacy weighs in at an impressive 5.8lbs. The thing really does feel like a beast.
Of course that raises the question of break-in time. And it’s here that the Legacy’s leather really shines. Although Buffalo Jackson doesn’t go any futher than saying the hide is “drum dyed and tanned”, it has a very soft and supple hand that allows the jacket to mold to your body right from the get-go and provides plenty of freedom of movement. It’s also clearly packed full of conditioners; the leather has a slightly oily feel but still has a matte finish and doesn’t leave any trace of residue. Which, again, is darn impressive.
It looks ‘broken-in’ but NOT ‘distressed’
To put this plainly, I do not like pre-distressed leather. Especially for jackets. So one of the things I’m really enjoying about the Legacy is how it looks ‘broken-in’ almost immediately without the use of any faux-patina or pseudo distressing. The color certainly helps with that. The deep, dark shade of brown with it’s more natural finish does a great job of bringing out the best of the leather’s grain.
Even better, that color shifts and lightens at pressure points when you’re wearing the jacket, creating ‘fades’ at the elbows, along the creases up the sleeves and even when you put your hands in the pockets. It’s a difficult effect to describe; the closest I can come is it’s almost like a pull-up leather on steroids. But the result is a jacket that looks like you’ve been wearing it for years (in a GOOD way!) after only a few days.
This is purely personal, but I’m a fan of classic leather jacket styles. And the Legacy is very much a classic leather jacket. It looks rugged, practical and like it can take a beating. Details like the action back and zip chest pockets certainly add some extra character. But they don’t make the design look overly busy or fussy.
For me this style of jacket is also very versatile. It’ll certainly fit in perfectly with almost any workwear inspired fit. But I can also see myself combining it with some tweed trousers and heavier knitwear. Or chinos and an OCBD. However, I will add that I think the jacket looks best when you pair it with fabrics that have some weight and texture. The character of the leather kind of demands that to keep things balanced.
What I’m liking about the Buffalo Jackson Legacy Leather Jacket
You can make a jacket using the best leather and construction in the world. But if the fit is off, it’s all for naught. So I’m going to go into a bit of detail about the fit of the Legacy.
I’ll start with my measurements. I’m 5’9″, 175lbs and have an actual chest circumference of 43″. I usually take a size 40 suit jacket and I’m pretty consistently a medium in shirts, sweaters and jackets from most brands. Buffalo Jackson does strongly recommend sizing up for the Legacy and, according to their size chart, a size Large is made to fit a 42″ to 45″ chest. After some consultation with the Buffalo Jackson customer service team, I decided to follow their advice and go with the size Large.
That decision came with some pros and cons. On the plus side, I feel like the jacket fits me very well through the torso and shoulders. Even though it’s described as a “Slim Fit” on the product page, I still have enough room to wear the Legacy over a heavier sweater. But it doesn’t look boxy or too big if I opt to just go with a lighter weight shirt underneath.
However, the size Large also has a body length of 31″ with 27″ long sleeves. I think I would have preferred the 29″ body length of the size Medium. Losing two inches off the length would have looked a little better on me given my height. Of course that would have also meant going with the tighter fit through the body. So it’s a trade-off.
As for the sleeves, the longer length doesn’t bother me that much. I actually like some stacking on the sleeves, although in the case of Legacy I find it a little excessive. If I’m being honest, having the sleeves an inch to an inch and half shorter would be ideal for me. But my main issue with sleeve design is really the cuffs, which I’ll address down below.
Choosing your size
So should you size up with the Legacy? Putting aside variables like our individual heights and weights, I believe choosing your ‘best’ size will come down to how and when you plan to use the jacket. If you intend to wear primarily unzipped over a tee or lighter weight shirt, I would probably stick with your regular size. I just think the trimmer fit and slightly shorter length will work better with that kind of look. But if your plan is to wear it zipped up or over heavier knit wear, then yes: I’d go up one size. In this case the extra room you’ll get through the body and in the shoulders will be worth it.
The construction and hardware
There are two points we need to consider here. First, Buffalo Jackson makes the Legacy Jacket in India. Second, they use Chinese made YCC zippers rather than zippers from a more well known manufacturer like YKK or IDEAL.
Let’s start with the country of origin. No, the Legacy is not made in the U.S.A. or England. But it also doesn’t cost $1000+. I’m also happy to report that the Legacy is very well-made. If you’ve read any of my other reviews, you know I go over things with a fine tooth comb to find flaws. With this jacket, the stitching is straight, even and tight, with no loose or missed stitches. And although they’ve used some smaller panels of leather in places (across the front of the shoulders and above the cuffs), all the main panels for the front, back and sleeves are large and of high quality.
Another way Buffalo Jackson has managed to keep the price of the Legacy under $500 is by using zippers from the Chinese company YCC. Would I have preferred hardware from YKK or IDEAL? Sure. But the antique brass YCCs are clearly heavy-duty, open and close smoothly and look great on this style of jacket. So I can’t really find any fault with the quality there.
What I’m not loving about the Buffalo Jackson Legacy Leather Jacket
The cuff design. I just don’t understand it. When the cuffs are zipped closed, the interior circumference of the opening measures a very generous 11″. That wide opening, combined with the slightly longer sleeves on the size Large, means the cuffs end more than halfway down my hand, almost to the knuckles. And there’s simply no way to close them tighter to keep them in a higher position.
So if I could make one recommendation to Buffalo Jackson, it would be this: reduce that cuff circumference by one or even two inches. Remember that the zippers are there for a reason. They’re what allow you to expand the cuff to make it easier to slip your hand in and out. And when they’re closed, the cuff should fit snugly around the wrist. With the currect design, the zippers really serve no purpose at all and are merely decorative. Giving us a narrower cuff with zippers would go a long way towards fixing any other issues I may have with the length of the sleeves and would really help provide a more ‘customized’ fit.
As I mentioned at the start of this review, finding a budget friendly leather jacket that also delivers the quality and style we want can be a long and often frustrating process. So is the Buffalo Jackson Legacy Leather Jacket the one that will answer all our needs? Not exactly. But it definitely comes much closer than a lot of other options I’ve tried.
The reality is that anytime we’re trying to stick to a budget, we’re going to have to make some trade-offs. In the case of the Legacy Jacket, for me the trade-offs are the cuff design and a few tweaks I’d like to make with the fit. The fact that Buffalo Jackson makes the jacket in India doesn’t really bother me that much. The price of a typical made-in-the-U.S.A. jacket in a similar style can easily run north of $1000. And there are plenty of ‘high-end’ fashion brands that make their leather jackets in Asia or Mexico and are more than happy to charge eight hundred bucks or more.
But what those fashion jackets don’t deliver is the quality of leather Buffalo Jackson has used for their Legacy. At the risk of repeating myself, this is just some amazing hide: heavy, supple and full of character right from the start. And it works perfectly with this style of jacket, with its old school design details and more contemporary fit. You can immediately tell Buffalo Jackson has put a lot of thought into the Legacy Jacket as soon as you put it on. It just looks and feels like a much more expensive piece than the sub-$500 price would suggest. So if you’re hunting for some classic Action Hero style to add to your wardrobe without destroying your wallet, the Legacy is definitely one I’d recommend checking out!
You can find the Legacy Leather Jacket on the Buffalo Jackson website for $489.95.
Buffalo Jackson provided the author with a Legacy Jacket at no charge for the purposes of this review. Iconic Alternatives uses affiliate links to generate revenue. If you choose to purchase a product after clicking a link, I may receive a commission from the merchant at no extra cost to you. You can learn more about our use of affiliate links here.