These Badass Leather Jackets Were a Well-Kept Nashville Secret
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Nashville-based Atelier Savas once only made custom jackets for musicians and other in-the-know clients. Now you can purchase a handful of styles from the brand in a variety of stock sizes. And instead of spending over $6,000 on a bespoke piece, these jackets start at $1,900 and top out at $3,500.
For the past five years, Savas founder Savannah Yarborough has been crafting one-of-a-kind leather pieces for customers like Jack White, Jason Isbell and Chris Young. Before that, the Central Saint Martins-trained designer headed men’s design at Billy Reid, frequently traveling between Italy and Alabama, where the brand is headquartered.
This year Yarborough started offering made-to-measure jackets for men, a stepping-stone to the full ready-to-wear line that is now available online. The new stock jackets showcase the best of Atelier Savas: unique leathers, tasteful silhouettes and timeless, wearable designs. The jackets have loads of character — they’re not a typical black biker jacket — but they’re also quite versatile.
Before the launch of the collection, we caught up with Yarborough on a recent trip to New York. She took a few minutes to share her thoughts on the benefits of ready-to-wear, the enduring power of leather and her personal favorite jacket.
Q: You’re launching a wide variety of styles. What was the basis for this collection?
A: Well a couple of them, the Denham jacket and the Legend, were the two first jackets I ever made, and I made them for myself. Obviously, I’m a trained men’s designer. Everything that I wear is like a shrunken version of a man’s thing that fits me. So, those styles really are pretty unisex, I think.
That’s the thing with leather: the styles themselves don’t need to be overly complicated. What you can do with the material alone is just totally endless. Every time I go to visit the tanneries, it’s like there are a hundred new ideas to come up with. And, that’s what makes it super fun.
Q: What are the benefits of a ready-to-wear line?
A: Well, I think the biggest benefit is that you don’t have to come to me. That has really limited the amount of people that we’ve been able to service. The other thing is you’re getting something without having to go through the grind of figuring out for yourself what it is that you want, which I find is pretty challenging for quite a few people.
Q: What was the most difficult part about getting to this step?
A: The most difficult part was trying to decide what’s going to be best, and obviously, the backend logistics of making sure our fits were exactly the way they need to be — we’ve probably spent the last eight months just on that.
Q: What’s your favorite jacket?
A: My favorite piece is always the Denham jacket because that’s the one that I wear the most. I just love it. My goal is that people buy these and they wear them five days a week — they wear them when they’re hanging out, but they wear them at important times as well.
Q: Do you have a favorite leather in this offering?
A: I really love the kangaroo leather in the cognac color. One of the really most special things about leather is that it always takes on a life of its own. And any skin that really shows that, is what gets me excited. Because to be honest, I’m more excited when I see a client a year or two after they’ve gotten their jacket than I am the day I give it to them. I like to see how it’s changed.
It’s like the more you wear your jeans, they just evolve — they really show the life they’ve had. And it’s interesting too because kangaroo is actually the strongest fiber of any animal skin. So, you can make it super paper-thin, and it doesn’t weaken it.
Q: The kangaroo leather is unaltered. It has a different look from traditional hides that many brands use where imperfections like scars and stretch marks aren’t visible.
A: One of the things that’s important to me is that everything should have a little bit of grit to it. And I think that’s why I’m so into the materials that I am — there’s got to be something a little bit rough and tumble about it. It’s a real thing. You know?
Q: Definitely. How should potential customers frame these investment-level jackets?
A: Well, and a lot of people will think cost per wear, right? It’s like, if you only wear it five days out of the year, you’re not going to get a good return on your investment. Whereas, if you are wearing it three or four days a week, it becomes a lot more worth it at that point. And that’s why everything here is super wearable. I’m not here to make you look like a sparkle walking down the street. I can do that in our bespoke program, but for the ready-to-wear stuff, you should just be able to wear it as soon as you get it.