While leather is a stable material, it should nevertheless be treated as a living product. Regular care and specific treatments are vital in order to keep it in good condition for as long as possible.
Things to avoid
Protecting leather from its natural enemies is a good start. Direct sunlight, intense heat, water and sebum can alter the leather’s appearance, causing loss of pigment and staining.
All smooth and waxed leathers can easily be cleaned with a slightly damp cloth soaked in leather shampoo or household soap. Applying a wax-based leather protector will nourish the material. Before choosing one however, it is best to establish its exact use. Available as a paste or a cream, polish is particularly suitable for footwear and leather goods while bottled leather milk is best used to treat larger surface areas of a garment or chair, for example.
Different types of leather
There are so many varieties of leather that each type requires its own specially adapted treatment. Applying a drop of (cooking) oil and immediately rubbing it dry preserves the shine in patent leather. For greased leather, clean with soapy water before applying a suitable grease. A waterproofing product is an excellent way of protecting water-averse leathers! This is true for non-finished vegetable-tanned leathers and for fine and delicate dipped lambskin. Suede or nubuck leather can be cleaned with a soft brush, and a waterproofing product will protect it from staining. If the suede is heavily stained, then it is advisable to use a suede eraser. Finally, for garments and furniture, it is best to seek the assistance of a leather-cleaning specialist.
Patina and glazing
“Colouring leather requires great skill, and is never excessive on a simple shape,” believes Master Bootmaker Pierre Corthay, whose brother Christophe is in charge of colour at the men’s footwear brand. With great flair, the art of the patina is done ‘au naturel’ by a specialist, on the raw leather’s full grain. Reserved for the toe-cap and the counter, the glazing is reminiscent of a type of mayonnaise; an emulsion of water and polish that crystallises with rapid and vigorous rubbing, as if the leather is growing! A special glazing brush can be used for basic care.