Heaven for Leather: A smart and sexy trend

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You don't have to be a biker or a rocker to tap into a trend that can be smart or sexy, says Rebecca Gonsalves

Once the preserve of shoes, gloves and blacksmith's aprons, leather's hard-wearing properties have certainly ensured its practical uses.

The tough fabric has been on quite a journey of redemption though, from more recent incarnations as the domain of bikers, rockers and dominatrixes. The last few autumn/winter seasons have seen leather pieces become something of a staple, with versions of most wardrobe essentials everywhere from the high street to the catwalks.

Fans of the utmost luxury in skins would do well to look to Hermès, Bottega Veneta and Rick Owens, where leather is something of a signature – practice makes perfect after all. One of the key trends this season, a pair of leather trousers, can be just as easy to wear as jeans, say, while a leather T-shirt cane be as useful as its common or garden cotton cousin.

"The leather trend can be extremely versatile," says Luisa De Paula, buying and merchandising director of my-wardrobe.com. "It doesn't need to be all out rocker or dominatrix." An easy way to incorporate leather in to your daytime wardrobe, is to think of it as the smartest thing you'll put on that day and team it with denim, cotton or jersey pieces.

"Invest in a good pair of leather leggings and team with an oversized statement knit," says De Paula. "Or a draped tank or blouse. Layer over a tux jacket or beautifully tailored blazer for an effortlessly chic and very wearable look for day which will take you straight to evening."

This season black isn't the only shade to be seen in, with oxblood, bottle green and even blue leather offering less gothic options and ticking more than one trend off at once.

For most, wearing leather isn't seen as an ethical issue in the same way that the purchase of fur or exotic skins would be. Instead this once luxury fabric has become normalised to the point of commonplace.

On the high street, it is often applied as trimming or panelling but more frequently will be the main component of a garment.

There are of course non-leather options, such as vinyl, "pleather" and even coated polyester which are championed by certain parts of the high street for their affordability, while Stella McCartney famously has an animal-free design policy which hasn't inhibited her collections being perceived as luxurious investment pieces.

Like her mother with veggie sausages before her, McCartney has made a name by creating imitation products that cater to a fan base of their very own. So whether you fake it or not, it's time to run and hide.

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