heepskin coats (also known as shearling coats) can range in price from $500 - $3,500, depending on the properties of the coat. Why the large price range, and how to choose which coat is best for you?
1. Warmth-to-Weight Ratio
Generally speaking, more expensive coats will have thinner leather and denser wool, providing the same amount of warmth with less weight. This has to do with where the sheep were raised: sheep raised in colder mountain climates (like Merino sheep) by necessity possess thicker, finer wool for warmth, whereas sheep raised in the plains need less wool and typically have heavier hides. In the case of the B-3 Bomber, it's modeled after the coat used by the airmen of WWII, who flew at high, cold altitudes in unpressurized cabins. The bomber jackets they wore to protect them from the elements came from the plains, so these are rugged, heavy sheepskin coats (not only are these coats tough, they feel tough!) On the flip side, the Highlands II coat provides the same warmth as a heavier B-3 jacket but is a much lighter, thinner coat.
2. Flexibility of Style
A sheepskin coat is made of a number of different unblemished sheepskins that are stitched together. Great care needs to be made to match them properly for equal weight, coloring and wool density. Thus, matching longer pieces together is more difficult and time consuming than finding equivalent shorter pieces. Many of the higher-priced coats have fashion-oriented styling and design that requires longer or more uniquely shaped sheepskin pieces. In our example above, the B-3 has a more rugged design for which smaller, squarish panels work perfectly, whereas the Highlands II coat uses a more fashion-oriented design that is more difficult and expensive to properly match. As a general rule, the less expensive coats will have more rugged styling, whereas the pricier coats will tend towards more fashionable or fitted designs.
3. Softness of the Wool