Like sportswear, leather jackets tend to be over-stylized, boldly branded, and burdened by gratuitous features. Enter Aether, the rapidly expanding Los Angeles brand known for its refined takes on practical outerwear, and it's new Eclipse Motorcycle Jacket. The slim cafe racer was designed in collaboration with Spidi, the GP-centric Italian brand that produces high-tech protective garments specifically for competitions, but the result is surprisingly perfect for men hanging out away from the course.
"There are two sections of the aisle," says Aether co-founder Jonah Smith. "There's designer leather jackets by fashion brands that look great and feel soft but really offer no protection. They'd fall apart if you hit the pavement. Then there's real motorcycle jackets that are all about protection, boxy fits and big branding. We are trying to sit somewhere in the middle."
Though duly protective, the Eclipse jacket is purposefully toned down. It has subtle box quilting along the chest, an athletic collar, and removable armor on the shoulders and elbows. The cut is slimming for a clean, cosmopolitan look. On Saturday, Aether will release a pair of athletic motorcycle pants that, much like the jacket, offer protection without the swagger.
Smith suggests buying the jacket snug and letting it stretch like a pair of jeans. But breaking in leather is not quite as scientific or complicated as denim, he notes. The best way to break in the jacket is to wear it.
"You can wear it to dinner and it doesn't scream 'I rode here on my bike,'" Smith says. "That's a little more our speed." [$1,195, aetherapparel.com]