Sometimes there are differences between men’s leather gear designed specifically for function — such as for warmth and protection for a motorcyclist — compared with fetish leather designed to have a certain sexual appeal, but not necessarily serve a functional purpose.
Most of the time, the differences in leather gear designed for function vs. fetish are minimal. If you buy quality leather garments made custom to fit by a reputable leather crafter, such as Mr. S., 665Leather, Northbound, or similar — then you will find double-stitched and reinforced seams, thick thread used throughout, and quality hardware (such as on waist closures or buttons.)
However, one of the biggest differences on leather gear made for function vs. fetish is snaps. That is, on leather gear that I have bought from fetish gear retailers, they seem to go overboard on the snaps for shirt closures and (IMHO – worse) on the fly of leather jeans or breeches.
Snaps are designed to … um… “unsnap” rather quickly. For a leatherman who meets the right guy … well, he wants that to happen. And the guy wearing such fetish gear probably wears it only to those events held a few times each year, and otherwise, leaves it in his closet or trunk.
For me, on the other hand, I wear my leather gear almost every day. I wear it when I get home from work and on weekends. I wear it when I ride my Harley, and I wear it even when the weather is not suitable to ride my bike. I just like to wear it. I have made a rather large investment in my gear, so I choose to wear it often. I have long gotten over worrying about what other people might say or think. They don’t (say anything) and if they think something, at least where I live, they keep it to themselves.
Back to the topic: leather gear with snaps is not very functional. When worn while operating a motorcycle, stresses are placed on the fly when one swings his leg over the saddle to get on or off the bike. Stresses are placed on the front of a shirt when turning a motorcycle or man-handling it into a tight parking space. Snaps do what they do — they unsnap. Sometimes in the most embarrassing of places and at the wrong times.
When I was confined at home due to the flu recently, I spent some time conditioning all of my leather gear and organizing it. I looked carefully at each garment. I decided that there were three items of leather gear that I very much would like to wear while riding my Harley, but because of the leather-fetish-snap issue, I have not been able to do so. Turning, bending, or twisting as one naturally does while operating a bike would cause the snaps on the pants or shirt to pop open. Not good….
I took those items — my blue leather short-sleeved shirt, my naked leather jeans, and my cheap CHP leather breeches — to a luggage/leather repair shop to ask that zippers be installed to replace all those snaps. When this work is done, I will be able to wear these garments again without concern about them popping open at the wrong time in the wrong place.
This is a word to bikers who like leather: it is a good idea to have custom leather gear made. Some of the best leather crafters serve the leather fetish market. But if you are arranging to have leathers made custom anyway, press further as you create your order to ask about closures at the fly and on the front of a shirt. Ask for zippers instead. I think you will be happier with the end results. Also, it is less expensive to have zippers installed when a garment is made than having them retrofitted later.
Life is short: wear your leather!