IFA Paris Fashion School is aware that the fashion industry is extremely polluting and that it is important to commit to a more sustainable fashion. This is reflected in the creation of dedicated programmes such as the Bachelor Fashion Sustainability or the annual participation in the Fashion Revolution Week. To take the process a step further, we offer you a series of tips on how to maintain your wardrobe to keep them for longer. After our article on how to care for your silk accessories, here are our tips for extending the life of your favourite leather items.
While animal fur clothing is disappearing from wardrobes replaced by synthetic fur, leather clothing and accessories are still very popular. Whether it is animal skins treated with highly toxic chrome tanning, or with a more ecological vegetable tanning, leather is still an animal material that requires special care.
Delicate, fragile, expensive, how to reinforce its durability?
Appreciated for its strength and beauty, leather, a living material, develops a patina and becomes more beautiful with time. Its characteristics always give clothes a noble character, but if you don’t want to see your leather jacket or bag lose its shine, become dull and dry out, it is better to follow a few conscientious maintenance routines:
There are many different types of leather in the world! Full grain leather, aniline, grained leather, nubuck or patent leather, the cleaning will depend on the specific qualities of each one, but, leather hates water. Even if the material is naturally waterproof, an unexpected storm can stain the material and ruin your favorite piece. So, the first protective step is to waterproof it at least twice a year with a waterproofing spray solution, sprayed at about 30 cm.
Cleaning the Leather
We strongly advise against washing leather in the machine, even on a delicate cycle. Instead, dust with a soft, dry cloth (microfiber type) before deep cleaning. Soak a slightly dampened chamois with Marseille soap, then gently rub the entire surface in small circular motions. Moisten another cloth to proceed to the rinsing by avoiding soaking the material in water too much. Proceed zone by zone, drying with a clean and dry cloth as soon as the cleaning is finished. Marseille soap can be replaced by clay stone, a glycerine soap (ideally a PH neutral soap) or special leather shampoos, totally appropriate to the delicacy of the material.
Disinfect and Deodorize the Leather
Prepare a solution based on water and white vinegar. Soak a cloth with this mixture and apply gently on your leather piece. Let it work for a few minutes, then rinse with a damp cloth before drying immediately with a soft terry towel.
A “dry disinfection” solution can be made with bicarbonate and talcum powder. After obtaining the mixture, sprinkle generously on the surface of the piece, gently massaging the material to help the solution penetrate into the pores. Leave on for a few hours, then dust off before moving on to the nourishing phase.
To nourish a leather garment, avoid shoe polish, which is best used for shoe care. Prefer nourishing creams (to be chosen according to the quality of the leather) or cleansing milks (such as cleanser milk), more suitable for universal use. Apply one or the other with a bamboo cotton wipe or absorbent cotton in small rotating movements. Let it penetrate for a few hours before shaking vigorously and polishing with worn gloves to give the leather back its shine.
Storing your Leather Clothes and Accessories
Just like water, leather is sensitive to sunlight and direct heat. Store your leather pieces in a dark place and avoid plastic storage: as a natural material, it needs to breathe in the open air.
More eco-friendly than animal leather, vegetable leather or vegan leather is attractive to a new audience concerned about animal welfare and environmental impact. Will pineapple leather (Pinatex), mushroom leather (Muskin) or Vega grape leather succeed in dethroning animal leather in the fashion world in the next few years? Perhaps an additional reason to take care of your clothes and accessories in animal leather to extend their life…