If you own a cherished leather coat and have an accident – a rip, tear, puncture, or other disaster – you may think your coat is ruined. Can a leather coat be repaired? Will the repair look like new, or will you be able to see the damage?
The business of leather repair is essentially an organic art, because leather is comprised of animal hides, a totally natural material, and repairing this material must be done using equally natural methods. No level of high-tech machinery or innovation can replace the look of real leather, but hand repair can make leather look almost like new once a rip or tear has occurred.
Restoration of leather coats and other leather goods can mean a great many things. For upholstery, leather can be patched or replaced, but that isn’t an option for a fine leather coat. The look and feel of a leather coat usually improves with time, and so there is a dichotomy when repairing a leather coat, because as soon as a leather coat is completely broken in, it often needs maintenance and restoration that will negatively impact the “good’ wear that has occurred naturally over time.
Many retailers sell leather repair kits, which offer a great many promises about making leather coats look as good as new. Some kits, referred to as liquid leather, claim that a synthetic fluid that matches your leather jacket can be applied to a small tear to close the rip and restore the feel and look of leather. This is a bold claim, and has not been completely proven.
It is unclear if these synthetic products can truly duplicate the look of leather. One analogy is that a leather coat is distinctly different from a pleather or other man made coat, and so the synthetic “patch” may also seem inherently different when compared to the feel of real leather.
The best solution to most problems with leather, including nicks, rips, and punctures, is to send your leather coat to a professional repair service. Professionals can assess the damage and can honestly tell you if your coat is able to be repaired. Many companies, and some dry cleaners, offer custom refinishing and complete repair of leather, when the damage is not too severe.
Depending on the rip or puncture, the leather repair can be quite costly. It may be best over the long run to purchase a new leather coat, unless the leather coat that has been damaged is of particular sentimental significance. Leather coat repair, no matter how well done, will never result in an absolute perfect piece of leather, which is an organic material that can not be duplicated exactly.
When in doubt, consult a professional repair person and trust their judgement. Make a cost effective choice based on your attachment to your leather coat. If you aren’t in love with your coat, this may be a good time to go shopping for a new leather coat, and a time to be careful with your new purchase.