When asked why every man should own a leather jacket, Ken Calder, the co-founder of Aero Leather, is quick to respond: “It’s a substantial classic that’s timeless in appearance,” he tells The Rake. “A leather jacket stands up to any type of weather and will look better with every decade of wear.” Calder, who hails from Caithness, Scotland, founded Aero Leather in 1975 with his wife Lydia. It was originally set up as a trading business, dealing in authentic jackets from the WWII period, but in 1983 the pair changed direction and started producing iconic styles of leather jackets from a range of eras, rivalling the very best in the world.
Ken’s leather-love-affair blossomed when he was in London in his early-20s, and stems from selling what is now considered vintage in the capital’s surplus of hustle-and-bustle marketplaces. “From day one I found it easier to work with leather than cloth,” he tells The Rake, which is interesting, as on the surface you’d think it would be the opposite. Since 1983 Aero Leather has reproduced dozens of iconic silhouettes from the last century that have become synonymous with a timeless sense of style. From militarywear to biker jackets, and all that lies in between, Aero Leather is a leader in the field and a mere mention of some of its heavy hitting Hollywood customers backs that theory up.
An admirable trait of Aero Leather is its practice of loyalty: “We began in the early 1980s by using Connolly upholstery leather,” says Ken. “At the time they supplied Rolls Royce, Aston Martin and Bentley — I imagine we got offered the hides they had rejected!” Aero wasn’t limited to just Connolly, though. “In 1986 we started importing horsehide from the U.S. and for several years we were the only leather jacket maker in the world using horse leather, as it had gone out of favour in the 1960s because it was considered too difficult to sew.” This has now come full circle, as it’s one of the most sought-after leathers by the jacket makers. Aside from leather, Ken has also been working with the same Manchester-based cloth merchant since 1968 to line his jackets.