If you’ve ever wondered how your leather jacket went from chewing grass in a field to the stylish, super soft garment that looks good throughout the seasons, working wonderfully in all weather. Then wonder no more. Here is your complete guide to leather jacket manufacturing.
Leather has been around for centuries, being the go to material for clothing choices since prehistoric times. People have always wrapped themselves in animal skins to keep warm and to absorb the powers that they believed the animal hides imbued upon them.
Today however, as magical as leather is, we know it is only a practical material that can be turned into durable, stylish clothing, amongst other items.
Most leather jackets are made from a number of different animal skins – antelope, buckskin, lamb, sheepskin and cowhide being the most popular options to be turned into leather jackets.
Once the skin is removed from the animal it is refrigerated to ensure it doesn’t go off or start to rot, or else it is salted or put into a brine solution. The skins are then sent to the tannery where the work to process them from raw skin to soft, supple leather can begin.
The work on the leather at the tannery is probably the most vital step in the leather jacket manufacturing process because it is here that the hard work happens to ensure that your leather jacket is of the highest quality.
First of all, the animal skins are sorted into sizes by their weights and their thickness. Then any remaining proteins either on the skin or in the skin are removed to prevent the growth of any bacteria.
To ensure the skins are completely clear, they are soaked in revolving drums containing bactericides and detergents. Any remaining animal hair is then removed with chemical sprays and a scudding machine fitted with blunt blades removes the rest.
These chemicals are then washed off the skins with an acid solution, before the skins are treated with an enzyme solution to remove any collagen that might still be present. Finally, the skins are soaked in a solution of salt and sulphuric acid.
The actual process of tanning depends on the type of animal hide that is being turned into a leather jacket. Some tanning processes require the skins to be soaked for several weeks, whereas softer skins such as lambskin needs only a brief soaking for 12 hours.
After the hides have been tanned, they are washed again and wrung out to dry thoroughly, before being passed through a blade that slices them into their requisite thickness.
Once the skins are ready to be properly dried, they are stretched across frames to prevent them from shrinking and sent through the drying tunnels.
Finally the skins are conditioned to prevent them drying out and becoming brittle before being put through machines that pummel them rhythmically to loosen any remaining fibers, ensuring the leather is a soft, supple and flexible as it can be.
Once the animal hides are completely dried they are placed into rotating steel cylinders lined with abrasive materials that buff away any remaining rough patches.
It is at this end point that any dyes are applied to the skin and the leather is now ready to head off to the factory to be turned into a leather jacket.
At the leather factories, highly skilled artisan leather workers work hard to turn the leather material into a leather jacket.
Designers are employed to design the leather jackets, creating patterns from which the garments are cut.
Leather is typically cut one layer at a time, with the pattern placed on top of each sheet of leather. Occasionally the design is pinned to the jacket and the leather is cut based on the design, or the design is chalked onto the sheet of leather and the design is cut from that. Either way, the leather is cut by a human operator, or a machine.
The leather jacket is then assembled in the following order:
If the jacket has a lining this will be included on to each section before it is sewn onto the leather jacket.
Each leather jacket has to go through a pressing process to shape it, which applies heat and steam and weight to the animal skin to mould it into the shape of the eventual jacket.
The steam and amount of pressure that is applied to the leather give the jacket its distinctive shape. Leather biker jacket or blazer jacket, they are all pressed the same way.
For a curved collar and cuffs, rounded blocks are pressed to the sections that need shaped and heat is applied to shape these sections.
Before each leather jacket leaves the factory they are inspected individually, by hand, to ensure that they are of the highest quality. So you know that the leather jacket you purchase from Tailwind Apparel is of the top most quality, and a real investment piece.