Society has a current obsession with ruthless consumption, and this dependency is translated as fast fashion. To fight the consumerism, building a capsule wardrobe seems a perfect alternative along with the recycling and reuse of clothes, shopping more in thrift stores or passing items to the next generations. Choosing essential elements that will not go out of style is not as easy as it looks.
Here is the main reason people fail to create a capsule wardrobe: They forget everyone has a different lifestyle. You can not recommend a person who is keen on outdoor activities to wear a little black dress or skinny jeans as a staple piece. While the personal style plays a huge role, what about the material? Can leather break the rules and be considered a basic for every wardrobe?
A little bit (more) of history
I like to believe that Cro-Magnon men are the pre-historic clothing. Also Known as Homo sapiens sapiens, Cro-magnon men had to come with a brilliant idea to cover themselves for various reasons. Punching small holes in animal skins and later on, bonding together pieces of animal hide, they created what we call today a tunic.
The leather is suitable for the warmer seasons too. It`s worth then mentioning, the Egyptian schenti – kilt, the sandals of the New Kingdom period of the Egyptian history, Pharaohs` khepresh. We can`t forget about the Indian chappals sandals and jutti shoes, pilos and petasos – Greek hats, cothurnus wore by authority men of ancient Rome, all made out of leather.
How does animal skin turn into leather?
Every culture has their way of transforming the hide, but they follow a similar process. The Africans prepare the animal skin by getting rid of the fur. They beat it until it is soft and then tan it. As a final step, they use the red ocher and oils to coat the leather. The Greeks used to prefer a natural tan colour by sometimes the leather will be dyed black, red or yellow or even covered in gold.
Why is leather unique?
Versatility. Leather has different uses: clothing industry, footwear, accessories, furniture, sport, etc. To me, everyone should have a leather jacket and a full-grain leather bag in their capsule wardrobe. You don`t need to invest in those pieces every season or once a year; a good quality leather jacket/bag will last a lifetime if you look after it properly. And if you are ever bored of those, reuse them. Transform your leather jacket into a bag, make a belt out of it, a clutch or simply compost it.
Leather changes every outfit offering a deluxe and mysterious touch. It connects you with your inner rebel, and you feel unstoppable. Or maybe everything is just in your mind and leather is waterproof, windproof and long-lasting.
Diversity. There is a variety for every type of budget or lifestyle. The different types of leather are full-grain, top-grain, suede, nubuck, vegan. The full-grain leather is the highest grade and still keeps leather`s unique flaws. The top-grain leather is the 2nd highest grade, and the leather has finish mat.
Suede is the inner layer of the hide, leather is soft and comfortable. Nubuck is similar to suede but more expensive offering a velvety touch. Faux leather is suitable for vegans and it is made out of PVC & Vinyl or Polyurethane -PU.
Durability. For the Apaches, the leather was not just used for clothing or to make walls of their dwellings; leather shows continuousness. The Native Americans firmly believe nature has spiritual power. To them, someone wearing animal skin will gain some of that animal`s strength.
A full-grain leather ages and will beautify over time. I remember my mum`s work bag: a big, brownish leather, very masculine, a holdall style. She always said that bag had a little bit of character. All I could see were wrinkles and imperfections. I was judging, being a kid and to me, the bag was not perfect. If you want to read more about why leather is used for bags and hand luggage this is a really helpful post.
Pieces made out of leather can suit several styles which make leather popular amongst buyers. Add a leather jacket above a chiffon dress, a vintage leather bag and a massive suede belt, all together or separately and you have completely changed your outfit. Leather or vegan leather addition to your wardrobe is a choice, a decision for long-time investment, durability and environment sustainability.
Let me know in the comments down below if your leather items have a good story to tell.
This is a collaboration post with Mahi Leather but all thoughts and research are my own
I don`t own any credits for the pictures used for this post, the source for all the photos is Pinterest***