Timeless, elegant, versatile – these are all words we long to be able to apply to our wardrobe, and there are few materials that fit this description better than leather. From dressing down evening wear to lending an urban edge to an everyday outfit, a leather jacket can transform any look. Its endlessly chic aesthetic has hardly been a passing trend.
When we purchase leather, we are making an investment in our wardrobes, and we all want to make the most of it. But learning how to care for leather is a daunting prospect. As a natural fibre, it is not known for being easy to look after, stretching, scratching and staining all too quickly without care. This is why Karen Millen has teamed up with Clothes Doctor, an eco-friendly clothing-care company, to provide you with a guide on how to care for leather of various types, including nappa leather, shearling and sheepskin.
How to Care for Leather
How to Keep Your Leather Garments Fresh
Knowing how to reduce damage to your leather clothing is key. Correct storage can go a long way in keeping leather garments premium for longer. They should always be hung in order to prevent creasing, which can create irreversible damage. Sunlight can also cause the colour to irreparably fade, so ensuring the leather is kept in a dark place is the best way to prevent this. If you have open storage or just want to be extra safe, use a garment bag to protect the leather from the summer sun.
Moths also love to nibble at various leathers and their linings. If you are retiring your leather jacket for the winter, consider using one of Clothes Doctor ‘Protect Me’ Fragrance Bags Their lavender and patchouli scent is a natural moth deterrent, with the added benefit of keeping your clothes smelling heavenly.
While it is known for being waterproof, it is best to avoid wearing leather in the rain. This is an important step in knowing how to care for leather. Water will discolour the material, especially if it is natural and unpainted. However, there are ways to fix this, along with getting rid of any light scuffs and scratches.
Clothes Doctor has assembled a handy kit to suit all of your natural leather-care needs. The Leather Care Kit contains sandalwood leather balm, a natural sea sponge and a lint-free bamboo cloth. Its sustainable packaging and ingredients protects the environment while you protect your leather.
Cleaning is often difficult for leather garments and they should be dry cleaned. However, this is something we should try to delay for as long as possible.
Most leather garments have a cloth lining, and it is this that often holds odours. Clothing sprays contain deodorising, antiseptic, antibacterial, and natural dry-cleaning agent properties, meaning there is a lesser need for dry cleaning, and easier access to fresh scents
However, we do understand that sometimes you need something a little bit more. Unfortunately, sometimes it may be too late to care for leather from home. If your leather garments cannot be saved with ointments and deodorising sprays, or even if you are just nervous about taking care of it yourself, you can send your pieces for repair with services such as Clothes Doctor.
How to Care for Nappa Leather
As a soft, full-grain material, nappa leather is highly delicate. Learning how to care for nappa leather can seem an even more daunting prospect than normal leathers and it generally requires specialist products.
If it is in good condition, but you want to show some pre-emptive care for nappa leather products, a lint-free bamboo cloth can be used to get rid of dirt and debris without risking scratches.
Should a little bit more intensive care for nappa leather items be needed, or you wish to restore it to its former glory, you will need to get in contact with a professional repair team.
How to Care for Shearling and Sheepskin
Shearling is also known as lambskin, an incredibly soft fabric. Understanding how to care for shearling products is essential to make these statement pieces last for as long as possible. Sheepskin, while tougher than shearling and reasonably easy to care for, also requires some thought and TLC when it comes to making sure it is long-lived in your wardrobe.
When we consider how to care for sheepskin products, it is important to note firstly that this is a natural fibre. It is robust, durable and dirt-repelling – all-in-all, an excellent choice for your wardrobe. However, unlike with smooth leather, you can’t just wipe the dirt away, so it is certainly a terrifying endeavour to begin cleaning. Dry cleaning is once again the only option for a full cleanse of these products, but it is best to limit the need for this as much as possible.
When you are looking to care for shearling or sheepskin by avoiding the need to dry clean, you’ll still want to keep your garments smelling fresh with a clothing spray.
Despite best efforts to care for sheepskin by preventing the need to clean it, sometimes dirt or damage can’t be avoided. Should your sheepskin or shearling get wet, avoid brushing, rubbing or otherwise moving the fibres, and simply hang it to dry at room temperature.
Proper storage is once again essential. After a long winter loving your thick jackets, it is important to care for shearling and sheepskin properly by making sure it is put away clean. It is best to dry clean for this too, but shearling in particular is easily scuffed. As this material is similar to suede, the best option as a home remedy for scuffs and scratches is to use a specialist suede remover rubber.
When you eventually get to the wardrobe with your clean leathers, make sure you care for sheepskin products by keeping them out of the way of direct sunlight to avoid fading. It is best to also keep these in a cloth garment bag. Avoid plastic, and make sure everything is dry to prevent mildew.