Today I thought I would dive into the whole shearling jackets and coats question and try to explain just what your getting when you buy one. What is shearling? As always there is fake and real shearling, and good and bad ways to make it.
What is really surprising is the vast cost difference between good quality shearling coats and jackets and a lower grade one. A nice full shearling coat that is quality made can be over 1,000 dollars. A low grade or fake shearling jacket can be bought for 50 bucks! Most fall somewhere in between there, from 100 to 500 bucks.
The best thing is to start right from the beginning and explain just what real shearling coats and jackets are. Many seem to think it is a lambskin jacket, wrong. Some think it’s a leather jacket with wool attached, wrong, at least for real shearling coats. Some don’t even think it’s real wool, wrong again. So here’s how a real shearling coat is made, and the different variations of it.
The way real shearling coats and jackets are made is simple. They take a sheep, that is a full grown sheep. It can be a female or male, there’s not much difference. They skin the hide, which consists of pulling the hide from the body. They leave the wool on the hide, which is now a sheepskin. Then they tan the hide, trim the wool so it’s a nice even thickness, bleach the wool white, as natural wool is a mix of white and gray.
They then may dye the hide, which is now leather; work it so that the leather is very soft, maybe put a few more treatments in the leather, and that’s it! When they make the shearling coat or jacket they make it so the wool is on the inside and the leather part is on the outside. Depending on how big and long the shearling coat is it can take 2 to 3 hides to make a shearling coat or jacket.
Now, there’s a lot of “fake” shearling coats too, which accounts for the wide difference in price. A coat or jacket that says it’s a Sherpa, or has a sherpa lining, is made from artificial wool; that is it’s a synthetic material. Those popular jean jackets and vest have a sherpa lining. Some can have real wool, but it’s glued or stitched to the jean fabric.
Sometimes they take a leather jacket, then glue or stitch fake wool or even real wool to the inside. But that still does not make it a real shearling coat or jacket. They can even use a fake leather jacket, line it with fake wool and call it a shearling coat, but of course it’s not.
Now, just to make sure you know, a shearling coat or item is the exact same as a sheepskin jacket or sheepskin coats. It’s just more common to call them shearling. So sheepskin boots, sheepskin slippers, sheepskin seat covers, sheepskin rugs and all the rest are the same. It’s just that on some of those the wool is on the outside, as in sheepskin seat covers or rugs. Sheepskin jackets ARE shearling jackets.
Real shearling coats and jackets are very warm, as wool is a very good natural insulator. A properly tanned and treated shearling coat will last a long time and the wool will not fall out. If it has been badly treated and processed however there is a chance of the wool falling out over time.
Shearling is made into shearling slippers, shearling boots, shearling gloves, shearling hat and women’s and mens shearling vest, as well as many others. A shearling bomber jacket is very popular. Sometimes they dye the wool a brown or other color to make different colored shearling coats.
The leather part of a shearling coat or jacket is very soft. Sometimes it’s sanded very smooth, other times they leave it the natural fuzzy texture. So now you know a little more about what a real shearling coat or jacket is, what it’s made from, and how it’s made. Don’t pay more than you should for a womens faux shearling jacket or men’s shearling coats.