I have a really good client who I’ve made several versions of this Edwardian leather trench coat for in the past. The last one I made for him about 7 years ago.
This leather trench coat has become is his trademark fall and winter outerwear and it says a lot to me that he is so happy with the previous iterations that he wanted to get another 7 years on. (This is his 4th)
He had a really, really specific color in mind and we were finally able to nail it down when I showed him an odd alligator hide I have here in the studio. To me it’s a perfect 1970’s shade of cognac. The color also perfectly complements the the whole cut and demeanor of this Edwardian style trench coat.
One of my vendors had the almost perfect color- but in a heavy motorcycle weight cowhide. This vendor though, works with several European tanneries that will custom tan colors to order in small quantities, and they had a gorgeous veg-tanned article in lambskin. Since this coat would need about 100 of the 250 Square feet minimum requirement, the client was happy to go for the lot – he’s going to get a short jacket out of it in the spring. (The balance of the leather will be available here for custom orders. There should be enough for 2 short jackets)
The pattern and fit was already mostly perfect. He hasn’t put on any weight, and he is probably in even better shape than ever.
So, he did want to update the sleeve and armhole fit based this and on how he’s been wearing the previous coats.
For a long tailored coat like this – little more definition is a no brainer under these circumstances.
So I re-drafted the upper-half of the coat and created a new muslin for him to make sure it would fit and hang properly both over a suit jacket and not. These seemingly small adjustments required an all new upper body and sleeve pattern. And the interior pocket details were changed as well… bigger phones…bigger flask…lots of storage.
The rest was good to go.
The leather took about 6 weeks to arrive – timing was fortuitous – we’d just beat the long Holiday closures in Italy. When it arrived it was a several shades lighter than we had envisioned. (This happens – there are no guarantees when dealing with Italy I have found – which is why I prefer to work via my vendors here.) Being veg-tanned this leather will darken naturally – however we are also able to hasten that along. I gave my client a skin to experiment with – he had some ideas and having so much other leather in his wardrobe (shoes, boots, gloves, and bags and coats) he also had some treatments & conditioners he already liked that he wanted to experiment with.
He came back to me with the approx. shade he wanted to achieve and the oil he used. The oil not just deepens the color, but it also enhances water repellency, so it’s a perfect solution.
I did 3 passes of staggered, hand-brushed, cross-hatching to retain the marbleization while keeping the tone even. With the oil, too much in one spot really showed and looked quite awful. So the application had to be very even. Between each pass the skins were hung out to dry for 3-4 days. Without this time in between you just could not tell the true progression of the color and the patina. The shading would change quite a bit over the course of drying. I had to make 100 square feet as even as possible in shading and tone for this Edwardian leather trench coat.
I think the color (and match) achieved is pretty amazing since veg-tanned Lambskin and Alligator are obviously 2 very different creatures! Once this process was done I was able to cut the coat out and begin construction.
This kind of attention to detail is part of the couture process. It’s what I do. From the custom ordered skins – which at this writing can add at a minimum $1500 (and easily more – depending on the type of skins and minimums required) to the cost of a project. It is most definitely not for everyone.