Leather garments and accessories are usually expensive and resource-intensive to manufacture, so it is important to look after them to keep them in good condition.
Leather is a very durable and flexible material, and when it’s cared for properly, it can last a very long time. Fortunately, this is BLANC’s area of expertise and we are here to help you understand this precious material and how best to care for your garments made of leather or suede.
What is leather made out of?
Real leather is made from animal skins, with the most common types being cowhide, goat and buffalo skins. Cows leather is often viewed upon as a byproduct from the meat and dairy industries and the use of leather has dated back for centuries! More exotic leathers are available, such as snake and alligator - they have decreased in popularity in recent years but are still available on the market in certain parts of the world.
Leather & The Environment
There are a few problematic facets to leather: firstly we have the obvious and highly publicised environmental impact of raising livestock. As explained in popular documentaries such as The True Cost and Cowspiracy, the amount of feed, land, water and fossil fuels used to raise livestock for leather production comes at a huge cost to the health of our world.
Secondly, the tanning process of the lather, sadly, is also a highly toxic process. Many tanneries have highly toxic run-offs, which stream into the water supplies of the surrounding areas, whilst the gases contaminate the air. PETA also highlights that “leather has the greatest impact on ‘eutrophication’, a serious ecological problem in which runoff waste creates an overgrowth of plant life in water systems, which suffocates animals by depleting oxygen levels in the water.”
It’s not all bad, however: the upside of leather is that it is generally very long-lasting and durable. High-quality leather, first or second hand, should stand you in good stead for a very long time. Here is our ultimate guide to care for your leather clothes & accessories.
How to clean leather
Spot cleaning should always be your first port of call with at-home leather care. Using a mixture of soap flakes and warm water, take a damp cloth and dab the stain. As leather does not mix well with water, so keeping any moisture minimal and localised is always advised. When spot cleaning, remember to test any product you do use on a hidden spot beforehand and to never entirely immerse your garment.
If parts of the garment could do with a polish and are showing signs of wear, leave the item to completely dry, and follow up with a buff using leather conditioner or polish. You can pick a natural polish for this too! Bee’s wax and Lanolin all work well, and you forgo the highly artificial scent. Make sure to never soak the leather and avoid applying strong detergents.
How to remove the stains from leather
The key to removing stains from your leather is to act as quickly as possible! If the stain is heavy and potentially irreversible (such as red wine for example), wipe your garment with a lightly damp cloth and bring it to your local eco-cleaners as soon as possible.
For your leather items, it is essential to opt for eco-cleaning as Perchloroethylene (PERC), which is used by conventional dry cleaners, can shrink and fade your leather garments. At BLANC, we provide the highest quality clean for any item made of leather, suede, fur or sheepskin. Every item is carefully inspected for stains, dyes, potential weaknesses in order to assess the best cleaning method. Stains are removed using gentle, speciality chemicals and all items are then reconditioned using special oils to give a great finish.
If you’re looking to clean your garment or accessory at home, here are a few quick rules to ensure the best care, based on the type of leather it’s made of:
- Hair on hide: Dab the fabric with a damp cloth to remove any dirt, finish by brushing lightly in the direction of the pile with a soft brush.
- Leather and Pull up leather: Be careful here, brush any dirt off, then wipe with a damp cloth. Finishing with a buff with a soft, clean cloth.
- Suede and Nubuck: For light marks, simply buff the fabric using a suede brush. For harsher stains, lightly dab with a damp cloth.
A final tip - for any leather that is coloured, if you have any minor scrapes or scuffs, you can try dabbing on a little matching shoe polish.
How to remove deep scratches
With deep scratches, you may struggle to remove these from home and we do advise that you always proceed with caution - if you are stuck or unsure, you may want to consider asking for our help.
However, you can try at home using these tips: clean your leather first by pouring a small amount of leather cleaner or white wine vinegar onto a soft cloth and dab it on the damaged area, let it air dry after. Once dry, apply a colourless shoe polish to the damaged area. Rub it gently until the product is blended properly. If you can still see the scratch after this, try buffing in leather conditioner or colourless shoe polish.
How to dry leather
The key thing to remember with leather is that it does not like heat as much as it doesn’t like the damp. If it’s wet post-cleaning or you’ve been caught in the London rain, don’t leave it to dry near a heat source - this can age the leather or even shrink it. Instead, let it dry out naturally, or wipe it down with a dry cloth, leaving your garment to air out in a dry space, away from both heat sources and direct sunlight.
Our friends over at AttireCare created a wonderful shoe protector that helps repel liquids and stains. You spray it on your accessories or garments to help protect them from the elements - keeping them in great condition for longer.
How to store leather
You probably won’t be surprised by now that the key to storing leather is to ensure it is dry and far away from moisture. When leather gets wet, it can go mouldy as well as damage the fabric. So be careful of both wet weather, and storing your leather in a dry environment. Store your leather in a cool, dry place - ideally back in its dust bag, if it has one. Where it won’t get scuffed or marked.
Mending & repairing leather
Leather is a highly durable fabric and one that can be passed down year on year, with the right care. A tear or rip does not need to mean the end of a leather jacket or bag: like any garment, your leather items can be mended and altered to patch up an element that has seen better days or to be adjusted to your size for a better fit!
We strongly recommend having your leather repairs & alterations undertaken by a professional garment care specialist. At BLANC, we can process any alteration or repair on leather items - from putting in new zips, shortening the hem of a leather skirt or shortening the sleeves on a jacket. We can also repair leather garments if they have a rip or tear in them by adding new leather panels.
Our favourite brands for leather clothes & accessories
BEEN London: BEEN are fantastic for their environmental practices and ethos. Born in London, they have a very circular ethos and touch on all points of sustainability. The designs are kept classic but have a fashion-led edge. They are quite a young company but well worth a look if you’re in the market for a new leather bag.
Elvis and Kresse: Elvis & Kresse offer luxury accessories made from reclaimed materials. The brand was set upon learning that London’s fire hoses went to landfill after use, and since then over 200 tonnes of material have been reclaimed. Their partnership with the Burberry Foundation has been very successful: they have recrafted leather off-cuts from Burberry and recrafted them into new items sold by Elvis & Kresse.
Cocoon: One of the most sustainable ways to consume fashion is through renting. Cocoon focuses on accessories, with different types of membership, so you can pick the type of membership that suits you - they have a wonderful range and variety of styles too.