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Afraid to put care product on your leather jacket?

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Avon, IL.
Many beloved jackets that have served one faithfully for many years, look like the first two pics. When sent in for repairs, I frequently hear "I want to keep the patina so don't put anything on it."
But, when the top layer of the skin is worn away it deteriorates rather quickly. A jacket in this state, if you don't get moisture into it and apply some care product - you are going to outlive it.
The 3rd and 4th photos are what I did to this jacket to keep it in an enjoyable condition. It's still soft and comfy, and it doesn't look brand new. It looks cared for. (We relined it and some other necessary repairs.)
So there are various approaches to the application of dyes and care products. To those that want a newly issued look that is one approach. But it isn't the only one.


One of the Regulars
Personally I also like what you did here - plenty of patina and character left but hopefully a supple, practical and functional jacket again ready to take another few decades of abuse!

I guess the aesthetics are very much a personal choice and that preference may even vary jacket to jacket depending on the age and type of jacket and preferred look/intended use. Personally I like some natural patina if it fits with the style and age of the jacket. But that never comes at the expense of a properly functioning reasonably cared for and durable jacket. I have jackets ranging from beaten up to pristine by way of old (my oldest is 80 + years!) but very well cared for…

Typically I’ll at least lightly clean and condition a second hand jacket when I first get it unless it’s still pretty new. If it’s dry and stiff and/or stained and damaged I may give it a more thorough deep cleaning and conditioning treatment or even some stain removing and/or re-dying. However, I usually prefer to do this myself, then I can get the balance right between keeping patina and cleaning/conditioning/ refinishing according to my taste. I also enjoy the process! I’ve got various leather care products and a fair bit of experience now, plus if it doesn’t come out like I hoped there’s only me to blame! Once I’ve got the jacket how I want it, I generally leave it alone, as it should be good for a bunch of years to come. Of course if it gets sufficiently dry or dirty again to need it I can repeat the process. If I’m already sending the jacket for professional repairs or alterations then I may use their professional services for cleaning and conditioning at the same time if only for convenience.

I make an exception to this ‘do it once and leave it’ regime for my bike leathers given their safety function and that road grime can build up and cause issues. I wipe them down with plain water using a clean damp rag from time to time as necessary. I also try to inspect them once every year and then lightly clean and condition them as necessary. I only use plain water and products specifically designed/approved for bike leathers for this and follow the leather makers guidelines, using as little product as necessary. I’ve also made use of professional motorbike leather cleaning services eg when having other alterations/repairs done. Well worth it in my experience for a more thorough refresh every decade or so. My two sets of bike leathers are 20 and 25 years old and have seen a lot of use, but still look in great condition and remain supple but properly protective. Patina is all very well, but I don’t want any patina on my own skin in a crash, so I make sure my bike leathers are well cared for.

Marc mndt

I'll Lock Up
Personally I like my vintage jackets to be in the best condition as possible so I do use lotions and waxes on them but I only use clear colored products. Never something with dye that takes away any of the beautiful patina which took decades to develop.



I'll Lock Up
East Java
^I like the both results.

this kind of wear will never happen with my own jackets, or shoes, I will act far sooner before the top coat totally sueding like that.

However even when the jacket loses its top coat if the leather is a good one then it would be just turning into partially nubuck jacket, what's really wrong with it structurally? I imagine it won't be waterproof, maybe dirt can get into it deeper, but same happen to suede jackets and boots, people rarely condition their suede unless they know about that expensive Saphire suede spray conditioner, seems like they doing just fine.
I condition mine to prevent the top coat from cracking and looking ugly and also to make the jacket feel softer to wear and creases better, but I'm genuinely not so sure if what I do would prolong its lifespan or not..
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Leigh H

A-List Customer
i purchased this 50s/60s Cal Leather jacket and the leather was really dry on its left side, so i applied small amounts of pecard leather dressing to it to try and even out the look, i didn't touch the right side at all.




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