If you've been following our Best of British series, you'll realise just how much we value traditional skills when it comes to clothing – buy once, buy well is definitely our approach! It's good for the British economy, makes excellent sense in terms of the use of valuable environmental resources, and quality garments are also a real pleasure to wear every day!
This installment focuses on Aero Leather Clothing, a family firm based in Galashiels, Scotland, who have been making what are very possibly the world's finest leather jackets for some three decades. The human race has been wearing animal hides for protection from the elements for thousands of years, and we should really value this contribution to mankind, which is why we feel comfortable in saying that Aero's hand-crafted jackets, which will last a lifetime or longer, really are the Best of British.
The company's peerless range of classic designs effortlessly evoke the high points of 20th Century culture, such as the flying jackets worn by allied pilots during WW2 and Marlon Brando's star turns in "The Wild One" and "On The Waterfront".
Aero's quality and attention to detail has garnered the company an avid customer base around the globe, which includes such modern icons as Johnny Depp, George Clooney, P Diddy, Dave Grohl, Daniel Craig, Leonardo di Caprio and dear old Hugh Laurie!
Indeed, The Scotman recently reported that, "Daniel Craig loves his Scots-made Aero Highwayman so much he can only bear to part with it for 24 hours, returning it for repairs with instructions to dispatch straight back within a day. Johnny Depp bought two in one go, while Foo Fighters frontman Dave Grohl wore the brand’s 1960s-style Café Racer biker jacket at T in the Park last year."
Celebrity customers aside, Aero founder Ken Calder really believes in keeping traditional manufacturing skills alive, and is training a whole new generation of workers. We asked Ken's daughter, Holly, about their apprentice scheme, the first fruits of which can been seen here, and a few other aspects of Aero's business...
How does the apprentice scheme work?
There is a textile college in Galashiels, Heriot Watt, which is a remote campus from the Edinburgh-based University. They focus on textiles and fashion here, so we regularly employ graduates from there, who are looking to work in the clothing industry. We take them and train them up to do machining and cutting, or for whatever vacancies we have.
What does the New Year hold for Aero?
We're in a state of upheaval at the moment, trying to reorganise the factory and put into place better systems for ordering and production. We're trying to reduce our considerable waiting list, which currently sits at around five-six months. While doing this we also have various new styles we want to introduce, including some beautiful 1920s designs.
Which jacket(s) do Johnny Depp and Daniel Craig own?
Do you offer 'made to measure' jackets?
We've always adjusted jackets for fit purposes, but beyond adjusting lengths of the body and sleeve we can't really do 'made to measure'. We can advise sizing, but we don't do special patterns for bespoke jackets, and we can't specify measurements to be very precise due to the weight of the materials (we can't promise anything within 0.5").
What's the current average waiting time for non-stock jackets?
Around 4-6 months, depending on the style.
And finally, what's your Simple Thing?
A hot Ribena on a cold day!
So if you're thinking of buying a leather jacket, or know someone who is, we'd urge a look at Aero. Yes, an Aero jacket is an investment, but one that can be handed down to the next generation for them to enjoy – and there aren't many items of clothing that you can say that about!
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