Leather Fashion History

The 90's demanded leathers and suedes that surpassed existing qualities. This decade challenged and pushed tanneries into producing skins that were feather weight and novelty textures never seen before. These new quality standards allowed leathers and suedes to be used in designs that previously could only be produced in fabrics.*
Wearing leather is a statement of fashion. Leather and suede have made a steady infiltration of the fashion mainstay in all of the top designer's lines. Following leather to the forefront of fashion is quite an amazing and interesting journey . The 1930's was it's premier in high end fashion. More varied opportunities for leather began to arise in the 1940's with new developments in the tanning process that allowed the production of brighter, more vivid colors. The European designers continued to incorporate leather into their lines on a regular basis in the 40's and 50's.
In the early 1960's, Bonnie Cashin was the first American designer to develop and design an extensive collection in leathers. She was a top designer for COACH and was the pioneer that transformed the leather industry in the USA. Her line included brighter colors of leather, softer neutrals than the browns and beiges more commonly used in the past, and thin supple suedes of unprecedented colors. Her designs were not geared to the hard rocker, motorcycle image of the day but rather feminine pieces that would have been great in regular, woven fabrication.
The 60's also saw the European designers promote their regular uses of leathers and suedes to the level of "haute couture". Leather was here to stay.

In the 1970's nearly all designers began pushing leather from the "rebel status" to a sophisticated wardrobe staple in every fashion conscious woman's closet.
The 1980's were the true explosion of leather fashion, permanently entrenching it in the top designer's collections. Leather became the fashion statement that signified wealth and taste. The French, English, and Italian designers collectively carried the clout to make this push where it could not be denied.
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*Footnote: Leather Fashion Designs - Francesca Sterlacci 2010
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