Guide to Pricing Vintage Leather Coats

By Christina Riopelle
sorsillo/iStock/Getty Images

Pricing vintage leather coats is seldom as easy as pricing a listed collectible such as a painting or even a set of china. Aside from the rare examples, clothing produced for everyday wear is typically priced lower than current retail prices of new items.Condition of the jacket is important, but the final price depends on several additional factors such as current trends, style and market value.

Condition

Shrewdly assess the condition. Lay the jacket on a flat, well-lit surface. First inspect the leather for dry spots, tears, cracking and soiling. Unless particularly old or bearing historical merit, the jacket's condition will highly influence price and selling venue. Determine what flaws can be remedied and which should not. Do not sell a rotted or molded jacket, assuming it does not have major documented historical significance, such as a connection to a historical figure.

Identification

Look for labels inside the jacket. Most typically, a label will appear beneath the nape of the neck, in a seam or under an interior pocket. The name of the maker can give many clues as to the date manufactured and the quality level of the coat at the time. A few names are highly collectible. For example, finding an innovative design by East-West Musical Instruments Label is the fashion equivalent of winning the lottery.

Style and Size

Peruse fashion magazines and websites to see what styles are being lauded for the next season. A leather jacket with no historical or intrinsic value may be suddenly desirable if the style inspired current trends. If a jacket is already appreciated by collectors, interest from buyers whose purpose is augmenting their wardrobe will increase demand. Size of the jacket often figures into price as well. In the case of jackets produced before the 1960s, larger sizes are scarce in surviving examples and sometimes, but not always, command more interest.

Estimates

If the jacket is collectible, there may be auction estimates to reference. Jackets worn by military personnel in the World Wars may be desirable, especially when documentation is included. Apart from the rare examples, auction digests from major auction houses are not reliable. Check online auction websites and check the inventory of local shops to educate yourself.

Location

Price also depends on where the jacket is going to be sold. The price of a lined winter leather coat, assuming no additional historical merit, will be appreciatively less if placed in a consignment shop in Miami instead of Maine. Customers are accustomed to paying bargain prices at swap meets, but are more accustomed to more substantial prices at boutiques with well-edited selections.