Can Leather Coats Be Repaired?

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.

The Leather Types Used in Leather Coats

In leather coat design, there are two main types of leather that are used for the high end coats. The first is lambskin, and the second is cowhide. Both materials are genuine animal skins and considered a part of the leather family, but each has distinct characteristics. It is important to explore the differences before you go out to buy a leather coat.

Lambskin is great for leather coat construction because it stretches well and tends to reshape after wearing, and is a fabric with a “memory” for its original shape. It is often made into high end leather coats and has a classic and fashionable look. Lambskin is often more expensive than cowhide when made into leather coats.

Another option in leather coats is a material known as lamb touch cow or cow nappa style leather. It is made of cow, and is used for sportier leather coats as well as skirts, pants and vests.

Cowhide is very tough wearing and durable. It is also the heaviest of leathers, with noticeable texture and grain. It is mostly used for outerwear leather coats, weekend casual wear, and biker style leather coats.

To tell if you have a quality leather coat, no matter the material, first take a visual assessment. A very good way to tell if you are purchasing a garment of high quality leather is to look at the seams and needle marks on your leather coat. If they seem to be a different color than the garment itself this could mean that the garment is dyed on the surface only – surface-dyed as opposed to aniline-dyed leather, which is dyed on both sides making the garment more finished and valuable.

Surface-dyed leather is much different to aniline-dyed leather because surface-dying is like adding a coat of paint to wood. It merely covers up the wood’s natural surface and defects. Aniline-dyed leather is like adding varnish to wood, varnish allows the woods natural beauty to shine through by penetrating the surface instead of covering it up. The natural beauty of high-quality leather is visible through a sheer, rich aniline dye.

Next, check your leather coat for overall color and craftsmanship. While all skins, of all animal varieties, contain some natural marks, there should not be any large or unsightly blemishes on the leather coat you are considering. A good manufacturer of leather apparel will not use leather pieces with these types of imperfections.

In addition, smell the leather coat you are considering before you buy it. The garment should smell like leather, not chemicals, and should not have been treated with Azo dye, which has been proven to be toxic and cause skin reactions.

Feel any leather coat before you buy it, assessing the softness of the leather. Good quality leather should be soft, smooth, and free of any bumps. It should feel flexible, not dry, and should never be hard to bend.

Tips for Buying Fashion Leather Coats

Cordovan leather, from a portion of the hide called the shell, which is produced with vegetable dyes and results in a very high quality piece that always has a polished look, is also an interesting choice to stand out from the traditional cowhide or lambskin leather coats on the market. Cordovan leather is expensive to produce and usually is only available for shoes rather than leather coats. It can be found in coat form, but is an investment. Embossed leather can also add a fashionable edge to your leather coat. Embossing is a pattern applied using extreme pressure on the leather, and often produces the look of another type of animal skin like alligator, ostrich, or crocodile.

Some fashion leather coats include bold looks like coats that are red, pink, bright blue, or other bold hues. Leather can be dyed to almost any color, and a bold color can set your leather coat apart from the drab and expected black or brown. A colored leather coat can also be a great tie in with the season, as colors come and go in the world of fashion. A light blue coat, when that is the “it” color can be a rich way to display the color.

Leather coats come in a great variety of styles and types, and the choices can be daunting. There are a large number of classic, never out of style varieties, including bomber jackets, leather trench coats, leather blazers, and belted leather coats. These are always a good choice for a classic, timeless piece. For the bolder woman, or anyone seeking to purchase a second leather coat that is more a fashion statement, there are a variety of leather coats of a more contemporary variety. These coats range in style, color, and texture.

Being innovative with leather can not only give your wardrobe a great pick me up, but it can also give you a leather coat that will become a signature piece in your wardrobe. Leather is such a versatile material that finding the perfect coat can set you apart from other women on the street and make you feel entirely unique. Leather also has a luxurious high end appeal, making your signature piece one that is of quality.

Third, for an innovative look, a woman may look for a new style, such as a wetsuit cut, which is a trimmer, sleeker style coat, or a length in leather coat that is the most contemporary. A great resource to find the hippest styling is to look to the runways of fashion week in New York City or the leatherwork coming out of the Italian fashion scene, both locations that value a quality, up to date leather product.

Fashion trends come and go, but one material has stood the test of time, from cavemen to cowboys, aviators to fashionistas, everyone wears leather, particularly leather coats.

A second consideration is texture. Traditional leather is smooth and buttery. A more interesting and exciting choice can be a leather of a different animal or part of the animal, including kidskin (leather from a young goat), calfskin (leather from a young cow), pigskin, or suede.