Buckskin Leather Duster – refined & rugged

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This Buckskin Leather Duster will always remain unique…

It’s the 2nd or third coat in this style that I’ve made for the client.  He’s very dapper and has a uniquely modern take on classic style.  So even though this coat is a sort of Edwardian inspired, retro  cut. It does not come off that way on my client. He’s got a unique style, far beyond his years. And his everyday sartorial choices reflect this.

This is a rugged take on his standard, keeping the long lines and elegant details but transposing them into a much tougher skin.

He had his heart set on buckskin, but because each year’s crop of hunted hides is limited, every year you will get a different selection of hides, colors and finishes.  Every season the domestic tanneries that handle hunted skins decide what that year’s crop of skins are suitable for.  Because of this, colors & finishes are never repeated. So you never know what you will find from season to season.

Once, I came across an absolutely incredible batch of true chocolate brown Elk skin leather, with a very smooth, silky hand. I bought all of it and we sold out of it within weeks!  Never to see another batch of Elk, or deer or anything remotely finished that way again!  So, it’s truly the luck of the draw when you are dealing with wild sourced skins.

We lucked out with particular batch of buckskin.  On top of the fabulous rich, russet shade, the hides, were also very soft and nicely weighty – not super heavy.  The skins also had a nice thickness to them – like a super plush velvet. Really they were ideal for making a long leather duster coat with this much detail.  

Hunted hides have more marks than standard hides, reflecting their wild nature.  There are holes and scars that have to be carefully worked around.  Sometimes, these life marks and vagaries of tanning can wind up in a piece, especially if the piece requires larger panels. My aim in this piece was to place them as subtly as possible.  Adding to the character of the piece, rather than detracting.

The skins are really integral to making  this leather duster coat a tough take on refined.

Too heavy and stiff,  this duster coat would be like wearing the interior of a car!  Too light and it would lose all shape and purpose. The choice of skins make all the difference in a project. Transposing a design from one leather to another can reinvent, elevate and enhancing a design when chosen with care.  Some styles can work in various leathers, other may not.  A pattern may require reworking to accommodate leather changes, there are a lot of variables involved. 

This buckskin leather Duster coat has become my client’s go to for the coldest winter days, it blocks the wind and keeps him comfortable in the style he’s accustomed to.  So while it’s far from your ‘traditional’ duster coat, it serves the same purpose.  It’s held up well even with some exposure to rain and snow – many or the more rugged suede finished skins do have some natural ability to repel water, due to the natural oils in the skins, though they are by no means meant to be worn in inclement weather. 

Finer skins,  like goat and lamb suede, which are very lightweight and have a very fine nap or fuzz don’t do well with any exposure to water or snow.  But, certain sueded finishes, particularly nubuck, which is a top grain leather that’s been sanded into a very fine nap, especially in darker colors, will take on a “rubbed” patina over time, losing the nap in areas of wear and becoming smooth in spots. This is a a feature, not a flaw – Nubuck ages beautifully and gains so much character over time.

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