View Full Version : Johnson Leathers Surrogates Half Belt Leather Jacket

08-09-2013, 11:18 PM
This was a while coming for me.

Tony Nowak made a rockin' halfbelt for the Bruce Willis movie "Surrogates". The movie was kinda "meh..." but the jacket was cool. I always intended to get around to getting one, but after Tony passed away, Riley didn't have any horsehide to make one with, so that kind of killed it for a while for me. If I could get one, I wanted it to be a tough-as-nails jacket in horse. Not too thick. Some decent grain. Like that awesome looking stuff we see in Kelso's jackets.

Then I was cruising the web killing time and found myself Googling halfbelts, just to see what else was out there. Aero do a few. As do Goodwear. Both damn fine jacket makers, but the styling and/or cut of each of their offerings just didn't do it for me. I got curious about the design, and found that the Surrogates jacket was essentially a replica of a vintage California Sportswear "Pony Hide" biker jacket from WAY back in the day. Tony seemed to be the only guy who ever made them for people, custom. Back to square one.

On Fedora Lounge I started cruising for other custom jacket makers. There were some GREAT jackets made by Johnson Leather in San Francisco. Truly beautiful stuff. From all accounts very reasonably priced.

Anyway, I got in touch with the owner there, Alan. Great guy; very professional. Incredibly patient and understanding of the process of getting things just right. I sent him photos of the jacket in the Bruce Willis promo shots, and a bunch of other shots of the same model of vintage jacket. Alan says sure, they can base it on one of their core patterns and heavily restyle it to whatever details I want.

Alan sent me some hide samples and mentioned that he has some lightweight horsehide in dark brown that may fit the bill. Looked great in photos, and excellent in person, so I jumped at it. In addition to some samples of beautiful hides that Indydude sent me (thanks mate) that Alan was happy to use, Alan also had some great elk, deer, cow, etc. hides. Although they were all really tempting, the horse just NAILED my original idea of what I wanted from this jacket.

Anyway, build time was a ways off, so I spent some time thinking about what I wanted. I had no urge to go all crazy screen-accurate like I have done in the past with Indy jackets and hats. I really just loved certain details of the jacket - especially the back. Collar. The long sleeves and reversible button-up-button-down cuffs. I wasn't crazy about the strap orientation so I canged it to more of an indy style, and got some vintage "dug" Civil War double prong ToD buckles. Alan graciously matched their tone to the zipper hardware, switching in some great zipper heads to match the slightly antique nickel teeth.

I was a little nervous about the cut and fit - especially length considering I was mainly going on the crazily cut Raiders jacket to indicate good fit and length, so when Alan mentioned that getting a mockup done was something that they offered, I jumped at it. For something like an extra $100 or so it was well worth it. From the mockup I did some sizing tweaks, and Alan's pattern-maker tweaked the cut of the body to give it more taper at the waist, so that was money very well spent. The mockup also had a slightly lower yoke than the Surrogates, but it suited me better so I kept it.

For the actual jacket, I ditched the additional stitching on the main pockets, wanting to go something very minimal, and kept the wider spacing between the back panel and sleeve along the yoke. Just thought it looked cool.

Total cost in the end was just $825 plus delivery, which I thought excellent given that that included the whole 2 stage process with mockup to be 100% sure all was good, and a bunch of things that most makers would baulk at as they are "pattern changes".

The jacket is spectacular - to my eyes anyway. I can wholeheartedly recommend Johnson Leathers. Don't go by their website which shows a very limited range of that are capable of. They are now my go-to jacket guys. Whatever I want, I'm very confident in knowing that they will be able to achieve it for me.

Pics below. I've tried to take a bunch of similar ones in differing light to give you a real sense of it. To your real-life eye, the colour is closer to the mid and darker ones. The lighter ones are skews in the light, especially where it looks a bit marbled. VERY beautiful, supple-feeling stuff. Very "Italian" like a second skin, like Tony's mark2 shrunken lamb, but as tough as nails. Not too light, not too heavy. Feels very substantial. To me, its the perfect leather.:

http://i1135.photobucket.com/albums/m627/GunslingerAU/Johnson%20Surrogates/D700-20130803-110352_zps40b9ff82.jpg (http://s1135.photobucket.com/user/GunslingerAU/media/Johnson%20Surrogates/D700-20130803-110352_zps40b9ff82.jpg.html) http://i1135.photobucket.com/albums/m627/GunslingerAU/Johnson%20Surrogates/D700-20130803-110410_zpscec1cab0.jpg (http://s1135.photobucket.com/user/GunslingerAU/media/Johnson%20Surrogates/D700-20130803-110410_zpscec1cab0.jpg.html)
http://i1135.photobucket.com/albums/m627/GunslingerAU/Johnson%20Surrogates/D700-20130803-110452_zps4e3a2db4.jpg (http://s1135.photobucket.com/user/GunslingerAU/media/Johnson%20Surrogates/D700-20130803-110452_zps4e3a2db4.jpg.html) http://i1135.photobucket.com/albums/m627/GunslingerAU/Johnson%20Surrogates/D700-20130803-110618_zpsad6e4d9e.jpg (http://s1135.photobucket.com/user/GunslingerAU/media/Johnson%20Surrogates/D700-20130803-110618_zpsad6e4d9e.jpg.html)
Hard to see here, but they even replicated the pleating of the half belt exterior in the way they cut the lining! VERY nice touch.

http://i1135.photobucket.com/albums/m627/GunslingerAU/Johnson%20Surrogates/D700-20130803-105930_zps3ab9835b.jpg (http://s1135.photobucket.com/user/GunslingerAU/media/Johnson%20Surrogates/D700-20130803-105930_zps3ab9835b.jpg.html) http://i1135.photobucket.com/albums/m627/GunslingerAU/Johnson%20Surrogates/D700-20130803-110528_zpsa25fb9c9.jpg (http://s1135.photobucket.com/user/GunslingerAU/media/Johnson%20Surrogates/D700-20130803-110528_zpsa25fb9c9.jpg.html) http://i1135.photobucket.com/albums/m627/GunslingerAU/Johnson%20Surrogates/D700-20130803-105936_zps62ba48c7.jpg (http://s1135.photobucket.com/user/GunslingerAU/media/Johnson%20Surrogates/D700-20130803-105936_zps62ba48c7.jpg.html) http://i1135.photobucket.com/albums/m627/GunslingerAU/Johnson%20Surrogates/D700-20130803-105930_zpsde105896.jpg (http://s1135.photobucket.com/user/GunslingerAU/media/Johnson%20Surrogates/D700-20130803-105930_zpsde105896.jpg.html) http://i1135.photobucket.com/albums/m627/GunslingerAU/Johnson%20Surrogates/D700-20130803-105918_zps57b7ccb3.jpg (http://s1135.photobucket.com/user/GunslingerAU/media/Johnson%20Surrogates/D700-20130803-105918_zps57b7ccb3.jpg.html) http://i1135.photobucket.com/albums/m627/GunslingerAU/Johnson%20Surrogates/D700-20130803-105914_zps76ba5a09.jpg (http://s1135.photobucket.com/user/GunslingerAU/media/Johnson%20Surrogates/D700-20130803-105914_zps76ba5a09.jpg.html) http://i1135.photobucket.com/albums/m627/GunslingerAU/Johnson%20Surrogates/D700-20130803-105950_zps600989c4.jpg (http://s1135.photobucket.com/user/GunslingerAU/media/Johnson%20Surrogates/D700-20130803-105950_zps600989c4.jpg.html) http://i1135.photobucket.com/albums/m627/GunslingerAU/Johnson%20Surrogates/D700-20130803-105834_zps44219e8a.jpg (http://s1135.photobucket.com/user/GunslingerAU/media/Johnson%20Surrogates/D700-20130803-105834_zps44219e8a.jpg.html) http://i1135.photobucket.com/albums/m627/GunslingerAU/Johnson%20Surrogates/D700-20130803-105810_zpsd8fdb85d.jpg (http://s1135.photobucket.com/user/GunslingerAU/media/Johnson%20Surrogates/D700-20130803-105810_zpsd8fdb85d.jpg.html) http://i1135.photobucket.com/albums/m627/GunslingerAU/Johnson%20Surrogates/D700-20130803-105828_zps52e22fec.jpg (http://s1135.photobucket.com/user/GunslingerAU/media/Johnson%20Surrogates/D700-20130803-105828_zps52e22fec.jpg.html) http://i1135.photobucket.com/albums/m627/GunslingerAU/Johnson%20Surrogates/D700-20130803-105804_zpsf5ca1fcd.jpg (http://s1135.photobucket.com/user/GunslingerAU/media/Johnson%20Surrogates/D700-20130803-105804_zpsf5ca1fcd.jpg.html) http://i1135.photobucket.com/albums/m627/GunslingerAU/Johnson%20Surrogates/D700-20130809-133832_zpsdbb04ae3.jpg (http://s1135.photobucket.com/user/GunslingerAU/media/Johnson%20Surrogates/D700-20130809-133832_zpsdbb04ae3.jpg.html) Ok, getting kinda cheesy now. http://i1135.photobucket.com/albums/m627/GunslingerAU/Johnson%20Surrogates/D700-20130809-133748_zpsa2b36876.jpg (http://s1135.photobucket.com/user/GunslingerAU/media/Johnson%20Surrogates/D700-20130809-133748_zpsa2b36876.jpg.html) http://i1135.photobucket.com/albums/m627/GunslingerAU/Johnson%20Surrogates/D700-20130809-133710_zpseb9c264e.jpg (http://s1135.photobucket.com/user/GunslingerAU/media/Johnson%20Surrogates/D700-20130809-133710_zpseb9c264e.jpg.html)

08-09-2013, 11:49 PM
Jacket looks great and that hide is awesome. Not too bad price wise considering what you had gone through to get this. Really interested! They keeping on file for more?

08-10-2013, 12:07 AM
Actually I have no idea. I would think / hope so. At this stage with a few minor tweaks I imagine it could be made very accurate to the movie if you wanted that. (I didn't bother with the third panel to the sleeve as I didn't see the point of it and for some reason the extra seam across under the arm annoyed me.

08-10-2013, 01:21 AM
Terrific looking jacket, GS. Well worth the wait and the price!

08-10-2013, 04:09 AM
I want one! They should make this a standard offering. Congrats!

08-10-2013, 05:43 AM
Really looks good mate! I love the colour of it.
You're looking a bit Val Kilmer too...

08-10-2013, 06:03 AM
Jeez... now I'm concerned. Young or old Val Kilmer?


08-10-2013, 06:05 PM
Wow, beautiful jacket! I like how it looks like it's already been lived in for a few years.

08-10-2013, 09:01 PM
Also a bit Kurt Russell....

08-10-2013, 10:13 PM
Thanks guys.

Also a bit Kurt Russell....
That I will happily accept, Mr. Bond.

02-07-2014, 10:33 PM

What are the buckles?

02-07-2014, 11:13 PM
Thanks mate. Dug (battlefield recovered) Civil War "Solide" buckles.

02-08-2014, 04:56 AM
Interesting on the buckles. 'Solide' is what was on the apparently screen used TOD jacket buckles. Nice find

As I understand they were meant to be trouser adjustment buckles and the maker had a Paris France address. The civil war connection is interesting

02-08-2014, 08:03 AM
Yes, they're one and the same. I actually came across them while looking for some ToD buckles to stash in case I end up having a ToD jacket made. Turns out they were used for trouser suspenders (braces). Very hard to come by, but I have enough for a few jackets and couldn't resist the movie / real life history crossover coolness of having them on this jacket.

02-09-2014, 12:33 AM
Since the buckles were civil war digs, it kind of dispels previous assumptions that the TOD jacket must have been European made and not possibly US made.
All is possible

02-09-2014, 12:53 AM
Yes, it is evidence that the Solide brand has been around internationally for at least 100 years.

02-09-2015, 02:40 AM
Thanks for making this thread. If it were not for this thread, I would not be working with Alan to make me a really nice Wolverine jacket (If the leather used for your jacket is the Horween Vermont leather, that is the same stuff that I will be using). I will be making a thread when the jacket arrives (StIll in the pre-production phase).