In the ever-changing world of fast fashion, it’s hard to know what’s going to be in style. But a tailor-made black leather jacket is an investment that will pay off for seasons to come. And no one knows the closet must-have better than Nathan Alexander, the CEO and designer of BODA SKINS, a UK-based customizable leather jacket brand that’s been seen on the fashion elite from Manchester to NYC, and beyond. We caught up with Alexander after an intimate showing of BODA SKINS at W New York – Union Square, getting real about travel, design, and what it takes to make a leather jacket both unique and timeless.
When did you start BODA SKINS and what was the motivation behind it?
Nathan Alexander: Well, BODA was born almost 7 years ago when I made my very first jacket (which by the way, was not the best). Looking back on it now, that seems like a lifetime ago as we’ve achieved so much. But on the other hand it seems like it was just last year as we haven’t stopped working hard since that day.
My motivation to create BODA came, quite honestly, from the simple love of leather jackets. They are the epitome of cool. Throughout my life I’ve saved up to buy so many leather jackets, falling in love with one or another; yet, none were quite right. I was always disappointed with the fit – from the big baggy sleeves to the cut at the waist – they all seemed to miss the mark. So when I had the chance to design the ultimate leather jacket, I grabbed it with both hands. I never actually set out to build this company, I really was just on a mission to make myself the ultimate, best fitting leather jacket out there. And BODA SKINS was born.
For us, it’s really about ‘heart soul rock and roll. We want to make people look and feel remarkable. And that means WOWing them from the second they hear about the brand to the time the package arrives at their doorstep. And then some more. We love what we do, and just want to keep doing it.
What have been the biggest influencers for your craft in your life?
NA: Over the years, my influences have changed for me as I’ve developed as a person but few have stayed consistent, such as my design tutor at University. Over the years, his voice continues to echo in my head whenever I’m designing a new jacket. Nuggets of wisdom such as, “Measure twice cut once” and “The magic is in the detail, Nathan.” These words have always stuck with me.
What is it about the leather jacket that makes it so iconic? How do you approach designing such an iconic piece?
NA: A leather jacket is just effortlessly and timelessly cool. It’s one of the those wardrobe staples that can be worn with anything and is worn almost every day (plus it doesn’t need washing). So in setting out to design such an iconic piece, I really just ask myself now, Not how can I reinvent the wheel, but rather how can I improve on what’s already out there? How can I add BODA magic?
First I start with the skin, sourcing the softest, most supple yet tough hides possible. Then I work on the horizontal and vertical lines and stitches of the jacket making sure that each angle and cut compliment the shape of the body. Then the details: the zips, the buttons, the lining, the quilting, the padding, the labels, the poppers, the collars… the list goes on. I make sure each element is the very best it can possibly be. And in the end, when you put it all together in a single wearable piece, that what makes it iconic.
What are your personal must-haves when traveling?
NA: Hmmm… my passport (joking). For me, it’s my sketchbook. When traveling, I get so many new ideas at almost every turn that if I don’t sketch or note them down, I think I would go insane. It’s only once I’m home that I can reflect back on my experience and journey and really sift through the last few weeks, discarding the not-so-good ideas, that were perhaps thought up on a night out, and organizing the good ones into an action plan.
How did travel influence your life and work?
NA: I believe that traveling is one of the most important things a person can do in their life. It’s always such a good opportunity to meet new and diverse people, create business relationships, find inspiration and generally broaden horizons. I know that without my experiences traveling, BODA SKINS would not be here today. The brand may be born in Manchester, but each and every BODA SKINS jacket is really a reflection of the world with the hundreds of components that we use coming from diverse corners of the globe.