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Rugged good looks

By Terry Roorda

Sterling Leather Jacket

Arlen Ness Apparel

$449.95, M-2XL; $516.95, 3XL-4XL

The simplest way to characterize the Sterling Leather Jacket from Arlen Ness is to analogize it to his two-wheeled creations, i.e. the fashion comes first, but the functionality’s not forgotten. In this jacket we have an undeniably dapper garment constructed of drum-dyed leather from Brazil, a country as renowned for its cow hides as for its wax jobs. The jacket is then subjected to a stonewashing treatment—which means it’s tumbled around inside a big hopper for a while along with a few scoops of pumice to knock off the newness. The result of all that agitation is not what you might expect. The Sterling doesn’t have the weathered dragged-behind-the-truck look of a pair of jeans similarly abused, but has actually ended up with a matte—almost rubberized—finish that, oddly enough, gives it the appearance of some sort of black leather denim. It’s a unique and handsome look.

The Sterling’s tailoring is handsome also, featuring an elaborate pattern of seams on the body and sleeves—especially the sleeves, which have arrow-shaped panels with the familiar Arlen Ness diamond logo as the arrowheads. Accentuating all that fancy seam work are rivets placed at strategic locations like you find on a pair of Levis, only instead of copper you have what looks like pewter. They serve to further reinforce that black leather denim impression.

The back of the Sterling has center and side panels of perforated leather and sports an embroidered Ness diamond logo at the neck, and Arlen Ness’ name spelled out in embroidery across the waistline. On the front of the jacket is a half-belt fastened at either end by Arlen-branded snaps. It’s not particularly adjustable, though it does offer two snap positions to choose from in sizing it to your girth.

From a function standpoint, the Sterling offers a number of effective features. It has a removable quilted-fleece liner vest for chilly conditions, and a mesh inner lining for breathability. A pair of small discrete zippered vents on the chest and another pair above the shoulder blades provide some measure of flow-through ventilation—not as much as a lot of vented jackets out there, but a lot more than you’d expect. The pre-curved sleeves are big and roomy to accommodate multiple layers underneath, but zip down tight at the wrists to keep out the wind. A small inner pocket is provided, as are a pair of hand-warmer pockets on the outside, and, best of all, a small pocket with a snap closure is located on the lower left front of the jacket. It’s called a “change pocket” but what it’s really handy for is stashing the Smart Security keyfob of a 2007 Harley—you know, the one that has to be kept in close proximity to the bike in order for it be operational; the one you always worry about losing for that very reason.

Among the other practical features of the Sterling are the elasticized ribbed panels of perforated leather from shoulder to armpit that expand like accordions when extending your arms, giving them comfortable freedom of movement, and the use of metal YKK zippers throughout. Put it all together and you have an attractive package of rugged fashion and function that will serve you well under any except the foulest of riding conditions.

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