5 Tips: How to care for leather clothing – The Denver Post

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The leather dress and wool coat from Banana Republic for fall 2012.

Leather sportswear to mix into a fall wardrobe includes, from left, the pencil skirt, sheath, and shell, all from Banana Republic.

The leather top and skirt, from Banana Republic's fall 2012 collection. (Photo provided by Banana Republic)

The Current/Elliott lambskin bomber jacket, $728, at Nordstrom stores and nordstrom.com.

Leather and suede are among the hottest materials for fall garments. While both real and faux varieties are being shown, there’s a big difference in how they need to be cared for. The real thing is lovely to look at and can be a great wardrobe investment, but it needs proper handling.
That’s where folks like Jim Orlin come in. His family has been in the dry-cleaning business since 1912 and his Denver Leather Cleaning Co. is one of the few local specialists in the field.
Orlin admits to knowing “all the old methods as well as the new ones” for cleaning and restoring clothing and says that with proper care and handling, leather garments will last a long time.
And yes, he has been seeing a lot of them. “This is the biggest that leather has been since Michael Jackson” was in his heyday, Orlin says.
Orlin recommends cleaning leather regularly and admits it can get expensive. Customers have to weigh the price they paid for the garment against the cost of cleaning it, he says. A simple piece might cost $35 to clean, but prices can accelerate from there. Know the fee before turning over your dress or jacket, he says. Here are some of Orlin’s care tips.
1. If a leather garment gets wet, hang it to dry, away from heat. Putting it in a dryer or near a heating vent could cause it to shrink and lose its shape.
2. If you get a stain on a garment, don’t try to remove it yourself unless a leather-cleaning professional has advised you to. “The danger is you start removing the color and then it’s harder than ever to get out and restore,” Orlin says, noting it doesn’t matter if the piece is bright yellow, blue or a natural-looking brown. “We usually tell people who call us that we’d like to see the garment first and tell them what the alternatives are.”
3. Store leather garments on padded hangers and cover with a plain bed sheet or cloth garment bag. Avoid plastic bags, as they don’t allow the garment to “breathe,” and can promote mold and mildew. Store in a dark, dry place. Sunlight will cause fading.
4. Avoid letting a leather garment touch your skin in areas where it’s likely to come in contact with oils from your body and hair. Similarly, don’t let perfume or hairspray get on your leather apparel. They are hard to remove and the process of removing them can take color out of the clothing. “Wear a scarf,” Orlin recommends.
5. Clean leather regularly. What about those who never clean their leather jackets, believing they improve with age? “It’s sort of like not cleaning your sheets,” Orlin says. “Believe me, they get dirty.”
Leather garment care
Find more tips on caring for leather apparel and accessories at denverleathercleaning.com and professionalleathercleaners.org
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