BY Brian Scott Lipton
Leather? I hardly even know her.
Actually, that’s not true for most of us. Especially as temperatures begin to cool down, we consciously make leather an essential part of our daily wardrobes. The cotton t-shirts, the canvas sneakers, the Target bags we now use as our everyday totes get pushed to the back of closet as we relish the opportunity to drape ourselves once again in cowhide and lambskin, which are not only luxurious, durable and fashionable—but just right for the nippy breezes of autumn or even the chilly winds of winter.
Moreover, while we may replenish a piece or two (or three) each fall—either for fun or from necessity—the fact remains that many of us have leather goods that we sport year after year, if not decade after decade. (Personally, I still treasure—and wear —an Italian-made leather jacket I purchased in the Berkshires more than 20 years ago!)
“In an era of disposable fashion, consumers understand that leather goods not only stand the test of time, but they also provide a timeless approach to building a closet of core items that is the ultimate expression of sustainability,” notes Mark Kohlenberg, CEO of Moral Code and Milwaukee Boot Company.
Adds Jose-Noel Rocha, marketing director of California-based luxury leather goods maker J.L. Rocha: “The continuing popularity of well-made leather goods is the main reason why our family-owned company has been satisfying customers generation after generation. Our jackets and bags never go out of style.”
Indeed, the perfect leather jacket remains the most desirable item for consumers. “The leather jacket is one of the best options for outerwear in the fall,” says Jeff Hansen, co-founder and CEO of Peter Manning NYC. “It has a rich history, is cool yet keeps you warm, and only gets better with age. Indeed, choosing a jacket made from high-quality leather is critical for both its look and feel, as well as its ability to age properly.”
Adds Ralph Auriemma, creative director at Paul Stuart: “Beautiful leather is a material that I’m always drawn to. In fact, I’ve always thought that a leather jacket, whether it’s a bomber jacket or a motorcycle jacket, is an essential element of a well-dressed man’s wardrobe. That’s why, when I’m designing my collections each season, I always make sure to include at least one style of leather jacket.”
Still, more than ever before, leather is being used for a variety of apparel, including shirts, pants, dresses, and vests. These pieces are now targeted to consumers of all ages and all genders; leather is no longer just for the rock ‘n’ roll generation or the Hollywood elite—though you may be mistaken for a movie star or pop music icon while wearing the stunning offerings by such designers as diverse as Rudsak, Frame, Salvatore Ferragamo and Diesel.
“Rudsak’s leather products create a feeling of uniqueness, and allow their users to feel powerful, glamorous and confident,” says a spokesperson for the Canadian-based outerwear brand.
Unsurprisingly, today, leather is most often found on one’s feet, in everything from clunky-yet-cool boots from Dr. Martens to sleek dress shoes by Florsheim to stylish yet comfortable sneakers made by everyone from Adidas to premium unisex brand Culture of Brave. Says Michelle Wray, the latter company’s co-founder. “There is nothing as durable as leather, which is why so many of our customers wear our sneakers year after year—and keep buying more.”
The same philosophy applies to both men’s and women’s accessories from wallets to handbags to gloves. Says Robert Ettinger, CEO of London-based accessories brand Ettinger. “Leather has different grains and finishes and a huge assortment of colors, making it ideal for both for men and women who are seeking to enhance their wardrobes through their accessories. At the end of the day, no material made by man can match the versatility and feel of leather.”