If you’ve got a café racer, bobber or scrambler in the garage (heck, even if you don’t), a quality vintage-styled leather jacket can feel like just the right thing to wear. As much as I like looking (and feeling) good while racin’, bobbin’ or scramblin’, I’m not one to sacrifice quality construction and decent protection in the name of style. Thin, glove-soft leather might flatter my figure, but I’d rather not test it in a meet-the-pavement situation.
Fortunately, the Shawn jacket from iXS is constructed of thick, 1.4mm buffalo leather, which is just as abrasion-resistant as cowhide yet somehow feels more exotic. It’s smooth and soft to the touch, but due to the thickness it proved to be a bit stiff until broken in. The leather has a distressed finish, and features off-white contrasting stripes, accents and zipper pulls, as well as a sewn-on patch on the right chest attesting to its “Vintage” nature.
The cuffs zip tightly closed to fit under gauntlet gloves, and they have extraneous snaps as well that I found to be more annoying than useful. I was thankful that the collar strap was hook-and-loop, with an outer metal snap button that is only for looks. The Shawn’s sporty cut was flattering both on the bike and off, with hip adjuster straps (more snaps) that let me tailor the fit, and thoughtful bust darts for comfort. Slipping it on was like stepping into a saddle and tack shop; it seemed to exude more parfum d’cuir than any other jacket I’ve worn.
Removable CE Level 1 armor at the shoulders and elbows is included, but a back protector is optional; iXS’ CE Level 2 Protect T ($29) fits perfectly. Also included is a zip-in quilted vest liner for added warmth, and with its lack of vents, the Shawn is best for moderate to chilly temperatures. There are two big zippered hip pockets, one small pocket on the left chest that is mostly for looks, and two inner hook-and-loop pockets large enough to swallow a small paperback book. The quilted liner has its own pockets, for when you have it zipped in.
The close, sporty fit feels protective yet attractive, and is very comfortable at higher speeds with the wind-blocking characteristics of the thick leather. The Shawn’s hip-length cut also provides great backside coverage, even when bent over on a café racer’s low handlebars.
The iXS Shawn is available in women’s sizes 8-16, in Purple-Ivory, Black-Ivory and Blue-Ivory, and in men’s sizes 38-50, in Black-Ivory, Brown-Ivory and Blue-Ivory, for $349. Remember, iXS is Euro-sized, so consider ordering a size larger than you normally might.