PRODUCT Summer clothes made of light-weight leather
HOW IT STARTED Leather-manufacturing technology allowed the development of lighter materials
JUDGMENT CALL Cool. But watch out for those prices
Despite the rising cost of leather, an upshot of the mad-cow and foot-and-mouth scares, the fashionable skins are hotter than ever--even in hot weather. Thanks to tanning advancements, heavy winter hides are giving way to summer textures that are as light as cotton, soft as silk and so versatile that designers are treating leather like fabric. Some leather can now be washed, and most summer hides are treated to prevent staining from perspiration or barbecue sauce.
That's why just about every design house is using leather in looks that run from classic to edgy. Oscar de la Renta's laser-cut leather looks like lace. Badgley Mischka's shiny burgundy leather looks like Star Trek. Los Angeles-based designer Jenisa Washington's all-leather line, Sold (a sample above), is three years old, but Vogue recently named her one of this year's trendsetters. Marc Garson, owner of the New York City manufacturing house Rem Garson, started creating animal-skin sportswear in 1991. "People thought I was stupid," he says. But last year sales tripled, and he's now making leather basketball shirts (like NBA court gear) for the trendy FUBU line. From 1999 to 2000, sales of women's leatherwear increased a whopping 323%. Expect everything from shorts and bikinis to evening dresses made of hide in a store near you soon.
--By Desa Philadelphia