The Leather Lowdown


From premium fabrications to considered design details, we look a little closer at what makes AW16's leather styles so special in our latest fashion feature

There’s no better time to celebrate the beauty of leather womenswear than in autumn/winter and it’s now that we focus more so than ever on a premium aesthetic, creating luxe investment pieces that will stand the test of time in any outerwear line-up. Here, Senior Womenswear Designer, Claire Staines, outlines some of AW16’s key designs, the process behind them and what makes them so special.


A classic black leather biker jacket is a timeless investment and there’s something especially luxurious about this season’s Frith style. Inspired by traditional motorcycle jackets, it features diamond-shaped quilted panelling at the shoulders and silver-tone metal hardware. It’s crafted from premium lambskin that’s soft to the touch and comfortable to wear. Over time, it will mould to your body shape, resulting in a fit that’s unique to you and your style.

The leather has been drum dyed – a technique that’s favoured for its ability to create a rich depth of colour – and is finished with an oil treatment that brings out the natural characteristics of the skin. Finished with branded zip detailing in polished, silver-tone metal, there’s a striking clash of colour and texture that’s true of authentic designs.


An oversized aviator is the cool-girl way to add an edge to your winter looks and the Starling in black is a case in point. As luxurious as it is contemporary, the longline silhouette is crafted from straight-haired Spanish merino sheepskin and suede that’s finished with a light surface coating to enhance the natural beauty of the skin.

In contrast, it has a chunky leather belt at the hem and is detailed with matte-silver metal hardware that’s stamped with the Reiss logo. For the design details, Claire looked to vintage aviator styles for inspiration. Each feature is considered to coincide with the next, so long-length zip pockets emphasise the thigh-grazing cut and the two-way front fastening offers ample styling options to suit your personal taste. In addition, the collar has a sheepskin underside which adds varying dimensions and a rich depth of texture, and the hems and cuffs are trimmed with a tactile boarder in the same skin.


It’s the directional details and unexpected combination of colours and textures that give the slim-fitting Dree jacket its fashion-focussed edge. Rich in texture, the cropped silhouette is crafted using premium semi vegetable-tanned lambskin which has a slight sheen to it. The natural grain adds further depth to the look and brings an element of authenticity to the overall aesthetic.

Much like the Frith biker jacket, the Dree will slightly alter in shape over time to form the perfect fit and offer something slightly more bespoke than structured alternatives. The most identifiable feature is the contrasting sheepskin collar – it’s detachable and when removed, reveals a simple leather alternative that offers a somewhat more classic styling option that works throughout the year. In addition, hardware comes in polished pale-gold metal to bring an unexpected twist to the look and sit proudly against the black body of the jacket. Leather-covered press-studs leave the focus on the branded zips and the double-ended front zip allows for styling freedom.


Perhaps the most impactful addition to this season’s leather line-up, the Nicole shearling comes in a soft grey hue that will stand out against a sea of classic black and navy outerwear. Much like the other styles in our line-up, the concept for the piece initially stemmed from vintage aviator styles, but this particular piece uses premium long-haired Toscana sheepskin and matte-metal hardware for a modern twist.

In a nod back to the initial vintage inspiration, the boarders are trimmed with the same leather as is used for the body, which offers a beautifully tactile and consistent quality. The contrasting suede side has a light finish to its surface which enhances the natural beauty of the skin. It has a leather belt at the hem that adds a tough-luxe edge, bringing an element of structure to an otherwise soft aesthetic.