The leather jacket is a timeless piece, the ideal jacket for the mid-season. But you’ve probably already experienced it: it’s really not easy to make the right choice! Here is now a practical guide which will help you in your future choice! With a little “technique” to start with…
To simplify, there are two different qualities of leather: “grain leather” and “split leather”:
The “grain leather”:
This is the upper layer of the animal: the noblest, most supple, strongest, most waterproof part. Its appearance is smoother. It is called “full grain leather” when it is used through its full thickness and has retained its natural appearance. It is from this leather that the most beautiful jackets (and by extension the most beautiful clothes and accessories) are made.
The “crust of leather”:
This designates the lower layer of the animal, on the flesh side, obtained by slitting thick hides. It is referred to as “crust velvet” when it retains its fibrous appearance, or “coated crust” when it is covered to give it a smooth leather appearance. Crust leather is mainly used for low-range clothing.
Origin of the leather
The most common leathers used for jackets are lamb, cowhide and buffalo:
It is very fine, very supple, often considered to be the most beautiful. It allows you to create more elegant clothes, which fit the shape of the body. But it is also a more fragile leather.
It is less fine, but its appearance is smooth, and it is supple and resistant. However, depending on the tanning process, it can look a lot like buffalo leather.
It has a thicker grain to the touch. Leather is stiffer but also more resistant. Interesting properties for everyday use.
It is thick, resistant, and can be used to make elegant jackets, but above all to make warm jackets by preserving the wool (we then speak of “woolly skin”).
It is a fine, good quality leather with a light grain. It is strong, supple and is therefore often used to make fast-wearing garments such as leather goods and shoes. On a jacket, these attributes can be used to advantage.
You should be aware that while it was certainly originally necessary to use buckskin to make this velvet-like leather, this is hardly the case today because it is a protected species. Thus, what is called suede or suede is a cow, lamb, pig, etc. leather made from the inner layer of the animal’s skin. It is softer than a classic leather, more fragile and can also be called “suede leather” or “leather-turned leather”.
But also, pig leather has a more porous surface because of the thickness of the hair. It is a hard leather mainly used for the creation of large jackets. But it is also an inexpensive leather that some people don’t hesitate to “make up” to give it a smooth appearance and to offer low-end clothing. Attention: you can also make very beautiful things with pig leather!
More rare are the leathers of goat (very fine), horse (very thick), or sheep and chamois. You should also know that until the 50s, leather jackets were made in abundance for military purposes and that they were made from horse skin. But because of its thickness and excessive rigidity, it was gradually replaced by softer skins. Even rarer (and more expensive) are exotic leathers such as snake, crocodile, lizard or skate. You can visit iroparis.com for more about men’s leather jacket.
As you probably know, the leather of the beast must be worked before it can be used. Fresh hides are notably salted and then desalted to remove water and allow them to be preserved. Then there are the operations of soaking, pelting, fleshing, canning, pickling, tanning, tanning, tanning, tanning and finishing!
I won’t go into detail about these technical stages, but you should know that this know-how is obviously important in the final result. However, let’s focus on the finishing stage, which determines the aspect and texture of the leather, which is the most visible for us:
«Plunged leather»: this is an operation that consists of colouring a hide by immersion. It is a treatment reserved for lambskin, which makes it possible to obtain one of the most beautiful skins: supple, very soft, but also more fragile.
«Nappa or veiled leather»: this is a surface treatment that protects a skin and gives it a look similar to that of a dipped skin. Less attractive but more resistant.
«Aged or marbled leather»: an operation which consists of pigmenting a leather to give it a patina finish (which is obtained naturally over time).
«Crumpled leather»: treatment which, as the name suggests, consists of giving the leather a crumpled appearance. For the anecdote: I was recently told that there are also leathers made from stillborn babies (it’s a bit hardcore but they are naturally finely crumpled).
«Woolen skin»: as seen above, this is leather from woolen animals, the wool of which can be kept inside the jacket. Very effective for very cold weather.