For me they’re meant to be thrown around, worn everywhere. It’s something that you should be wearing. You should live in it. And it should tell that story of your life. It’s like this personal journal of experience. I’m Savannah Yarborough and we are at the Atelier Savas studio. One of the first pieces that I designed when I was working for a bigger company was a leather jacket. It was really like flat and wasn’t interesting at all. I took the sample home. I put it in my bathtub and I wore it while it dried. It molded to me. It was different from putting on anything else that I’d ever had. I met people in the factories that were actually making these jackets and I learned a lot from those people. So whether it’s a $200 leather jacket or a $10,000 leather jacket, it’s gonna last forever. It’s gonna change every time they wear it. It it rains, you’re gonna be okay and your leather jacket’s gonna look five times better when it dries. The first phase of making one of our leather jackets is meeting with the client, select the leather that they want, any embroidery or specific details that they might also wanna add, and we actually draw out the jacket for them.
After that, we take 32 points of measurement. With the word bespoke, the person who’s taking your measurements is also the person that’s with your piece the whole way through. I’m making the jacket that you will be wearing. Physically, myself, I can only make four jackets a month. The second phase, is to create the paper pattern based on the measurements. These two dimensional pieces that will then be put together to create the actual 3D jacket. The armhole and the shoulder, that’s the most complicated place to fit and I’ve developed a really great pattern to be able to adapt it for each person. It’s a really really beautiful armhole. As a designer, that’s the first thing you look at when you look at a jacket or a coat. Like how beautiful does that sleeve hang. We make a fabric version which is basically a mock up of what their leather jacket will be.
There’s always some sort of tweaks that have to be done before we actually cut. Once the needle goes through the leather, you can’t take back that hole. There’s always gonna be a hole where the needle was. When I sell a leather, when they pick their skin, that leather is no longer gonna be available to any other client. Oh, I saw my friend Joe and he was in this really cool red leather jacket, I want that jacket. I want that leather.
I won’t sell it to you. We will find you another red leather and you will have your own one-of-a-kind piece. The jacket that I’m wearing is this really buttery soft calfskin. There’s silk lining in it. A western yoke detail here. Silver zippers. When people feel it, they’re like, “Oh my gosh, what is that?” The third step involves cutting. We lay out all of the skins. We examine each skin for any nicks or holes, any scratches that we may not want on the jacket. Some leathers are more distressed already and they show natural grain from the animal and so you want that in the jacket. How are all 50 of these pattern pieces gonna actually fit into these hides that are all different sizes. Each one was a different animal. The embroidery, it’s a lot of fun and it’s something that we offer most specifically on the linings of everyone’s jackets and give people an opportunity to have this like very personal interior detail and it can be anything; their nickname or an illustration.
It’s this private detail that no one knows about because it’s on the inside of their jacket. The fourth step in the process of making a jacket, you have to do things like stabilize certain areas like the waistbands, the cuffs, and the collars, scything the leather if it’s too thick; basically cuts the thickness of the leather in half. It gets rid of the bulk so that when you have seams to fold over, it doesn’t add really any extra to that which allows the seams to actually lay flatter. It’s really just a matter of like getting all of the pieces ready to be sewn.
The fifth phase is where we actually sit down and sew the pieces together. It’s not necessarily, okay we’re gonna sit down at the sewing machine and it’s all gonna be done. You sew one seam and then you have to iron it flat and roll it out and glue the seam so that everything stays really flush and flat. We just moved into our studio downtown Nashville. It’s in a neighborhood called Pie Town which is in a very up and coming area. I’ve been here for three and a half years. I’ve lived in London for five years which is where I studied.
I’ve lived in San Francisco. I grew up in Alabama. There’s a spirit about Nashville that it’s just really great. Within the few years that I was here, I felt this growth happen and it’s still happening. There’s no second thought in my head of anything else I would rather be doing. There is a leather jacket for everyone. That’s why I’m here; is to basically help create these pieces that even if it’s someone who has never been able to envision themselves in a leather jacket, like we can make that jacket. The most important part of identifying one of my jackets is the visible logo which is stamped in 22 carat gold on each jacket. The second is the fit, especially when viewed from the side. I create this very specific curve on every jacket that I do. Slightly higher in the back and it drops really beautifully down to the front.
And then, we deliver the jacket. Leather jackets always look their best 10 years after you’ve had them. The most beautiful thing to me on a leather jacket when I see someone wearing one, is the creases in the arm because the elbow like stretches out, but you can really just see like now that, you know, I’ve been wearing this one, it’s always got this really beautiful crease going on. Every experience that you have in that jacket, something evolves in that material. It’s like modern day armor ’cause it gives you this like confidence that you really don’t get from any other piece of clothing.
You put on your leather jacket and you feel like you can walk out the door and take on the world. .
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