Leather Lore

January 15, 1992|By Knight-Ridder Newspapers

Know what to look for in a garment

According to the Leather Apparel Association in New York City, the key to buying leather garments is knowing what you want.

Costs can range from $100 to $1,000 and up way up in the case of high-fashion designer labels depending on the quality of the raw material and the quality of the work involved.

But most people judge leather by the "hand," an industry term for the way the material feels. Generally speaking, the softer the hand, the better the leather, and the more expensive the garment.

Some recommendations from the Leather Apparel Association:

* Your first leather jacket should be versatile enough to go with almost anything. Later, you may want to choose something in a bolder color or racier style.

* While slight variations in texture are to be expected in this natural material, better garments will have more uniform surfaces. Whether the leather is grainy or smooth is a matter of personal preference; the key is uniformity.

* Jackets and coats should fit slightly oversized; most people will wear them over sweaters or suit jackets.

* Leather pants and skirts, however, should have a snug fit. They stretch a little with wear and shrink again when cleaned.

* Examine the stitching on the garment. Stitches should be clean, straight and close together.

Proper care extends life of leather

Leather should be cleaned by a leather specialist.

* Store leather garments on a broad hanger, not wire, to maintain its shape. Never store under plastic, which causes the leather to dry out.

* If the leather gets wet, air dry it. Avoid heat and humidity.

* Wrinkles will fall out on a hanger. If ironing is desired, cover the garment with heavy paper and use the lowest setting, no steam.

L * Hems may be repaired using a tiny amount of rubber cement.

* Avoid spraying hair spray or perfumes while wearing leather; try not to wear pins or adhesive name tags.

* Wipe away dust and dirt with a soft, dry sponge or cloth. For suede or nubuck, special buffing brushes are available.

* Periodically use a leather conditioner to keep the material smooth and soft.

* Matching leather garments should always be cleaned at the dTC same time, because slight variations in color and texture may appear with each cleaning.

* Apply water and stain guard products immediately after purchasing the leather garment. Reapply after each cleaning.

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