Dave 1's Guide to the Perfect Leather Jacket

The Chromeo frontman has an insane collection of leather outerwear. We talked to him about what guys should look for when dropping that kind of dough.

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Complex Original

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Spend some time with Dave Macklovitch and you’ll get an education you never knew you needed. Macklovitch—better known as Dave 1 of funk-heavy duo Chromeo—is listening to Travis Scott when we arrive at his vibey Williamsburg apartment while a Cire Trudon candle burns.  Macklovitch explains that he’s finally getting his new place—which until three months ago was inhabited by his younger brother A-Trak—to where he wants it to be. There's a pair of PK22 chairs by Poul Kjaerholm (Google them), and a super-rare Brazilian chair dubbed the “Esfera” by Ricardo Fasanello that populate his living room.

Dave 1’s sophisticated tastes aren’t just for show, either. After putting a PhD in French Literature  from Columbia University on hold, he became obsessed with architecture, devouring books about Danish, Italian, and Brazilian design, spending nights going from novice to borderline expert on global design culture.  As someone who pays such close attention to design, it’s no surprise that Dave 1 has become a low-key icon to the fashion set. He has a standard uniform—skinny jeans and a leather jacket—which he elevates with a keen eye for detail. As “leather weather” officially hits across the country, we caught up with Macklovitch to browse his expansive collection and get tips on what guys should look for in the elusive search for the perfect leather jacket.

What’s the one leather jacket every guy should own?
Well, your basic go-to would be like a biker jacket, or a Perfecto. You want to go with a style as classic as possible, something that looks like a Schott. What’s cool about leather jackets is that they actually get doper as they age. The leather releases these oils and you get this sheen and this creasing. You want to have a purchase that’s going to last for a long time, so if you’re just gonna buy one, I would say just stay away from getting a fashion-y one and just opt for a super classic option—something that looks as authentic as possible.

Are there any weather restrictions on when you can wear leather jackets?
It’s something you can wear all season in New York. In the winter, you can layer it—sweater, hoodie, button-down. In the summer, you just wear it with like a T-shirt or a wife-beater underneath. It really becomes like a shell.

You wear leather jackets all year-round, even in 80° weather?
I do wear them in 80° weather, but I expect to get clowned and I clown myself when I do it. The whole thing about all that too is like, yes, a leather jacket makes you look badass and makes you look like you’re auditioning for a part in The Ramones musical on Broadway or something, but you also have to have a degree of humor about everything. It’s all fun.

You wear a lot of Saint Laurent jackets, but do you still cop vintage ones too?
Yeah. It’s hard for me to talk about the designer stuff, because on the one hand I wear it, and sometimes I get hooked up a little bit, but a lot of kids read these things about the culture we’re a part of and tend to fetishize it.  It’s super brand-driven, and I feel weird because I sort of play into that, and I feel conflicted because at the same time, it’s really not what I stand for.

I think that it’s all about style. Honestly, if I had time to go get only vintage, and if I had an amazing alterations person that was there every week for me to take the sleeves in and make the arm holes higher, and if I wasn’t on tour like 200 days out of the year, I would do that. There’s just a convenience—I’m really tall and skinny, and it just so happens Saint Laurent fits my body type.

That makes sense, it’s not necessarily all about price.
I think the example you want to set is  “go for authenticity.” If you got it like that and you can get the two-tone Saint Laurent joint, then get it, but that doesn’t give you a ticket to flyness. You can totally see somebody else on the L train might be killing it in a $60 thing from Beacon’s Closet.

You just pulled out 16 leather jackets. How big do you think your collection is?
It’s retarded. Like, it’s insane. But I wear them on the stage. Most of them are stage jackets and when I’m on tour, there’s a very practical dimension to this. I do like five shows a week, and I just can’t be wearing the same thing every show, because the pictures come out on social media and stuff. And after I play a show, my jacket is soaked. It has to dry.

I’ve got like 20-something joints, but it’s only because I have to rotate. I know it sounds real Liberace, but real talk, I gotta rotate ‘cause I play five shows a week.

It’s your uniform.
With Chromeo, our image is so strong. The visual thing we give off is so strong and we have to go extra. We have to. If you’re a regular dude reading this: You have one leather jacket, maybe two, and you’re set. You’re good—and not only that, it’s like a thousand dollar investment. But A) it’s year-round and B) it’s gonna last for 5, 6, years or maybe more. You’re going to end up giving your jacket to your dad or something. It lasts forever.

Each year it seems that there are certain design cues that brands incorporate into their leather jackets like ribbed shoulders, two-toned sleeves, and other details.
Let me put you onto something: They all jack their shit from this weird German motorcycle jacket company called Hein Gericke—and even since his Dior days, Hedi [Slimane]’s been taking cues from them. The cuts are horrible because they’re super boxy, but the designs are insane. It’s like some German motocross shit, and the detailing is insane. Everything about it is phenomenal, but the cut’s terrible.

I haven't heard of it before. I need to check it out.
A lot of the designs that you see one season everybody does, like the ribbed pad thing. Then you’ll have the hardware in certain places, that all references off vintage, authentic shit and it becomes trendy to do it.

My take on like the leather thing is: the more detail, the better. Overdo it with the zippers. The reference is motocross, where you need a thousand pockets and all this padding in case you fall. The other thing that’s amazing about leather jackets and how it sort of fits in culturally to everything we like is that it’s all about this reappropriation of super practical, purpose-driven attire.

You’ve customized one of your jackets with a bunch of pins.
It’s stuff that we used to do growing up. I feel like there is a pins zeitgeist, right? My favorite Perfecto is one that I wear basically everyday that I’ve had for like four years. I was on tour in Detroit, and I happened to be sitting on the toilet for a long time. I was on eBay on my phone and was just like, ‘Let me buy every cool pin that I can find.’ And I just put it all on there and Krazy Glued them so they don’t fall off, and it’s cool. It makes a lot of friends on the airplane.

Again, I think it’s that sense of humor. It’s so important ‘cause otherwise, it’s what prevents all of us from becoming fashion victims—and that’s crucial. When I see a kid like Ian Connor wearing Skechers, it’s so important. I mean, my boy P is on the same wave. He’s full on.

One of my favorite jackets in your collection is the Burberry one that Christopher Bailey did from 2011.
It weighs like six tons and it’s actually super boxy, like an awkward cut. It’s cropped too high and it’s got too much hardware.

Do you have to hunt for a piece like that one?
I didn’t have to hunt. I’m not an eBay head. I wish I was, because I would be on some other shit. It’s funny because I hunt for like furniture that I could flaunt, you know? This chair [points to chair], I imported that from Brazil. No one has this.

With clothing, I’ve got this thing where I’ll place special orders. I get one and hopefully, I don’t run into Swizz Beatz wearing one. No disrespect to him!

I never really had to go crazy hunting for stuff. I’ve got shops that’ll hold stuff for me and make sure I get it first, and then I’ll make sure I wear it to Coachella. I’ll get some stuff like a week before everyone else—basic perks of being a musician.

For sure. It doesn’t hurt to be out there.
Yeah, but the clever kids on a budget—they always outdo everybody.  If you just have that drive in you, you make do. I like to stay humble, because there’s always a kid on the L train that you see and you’re just like: “Nice job.”

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