Anybody who follows trends will know that the Sheepskin or Shearling (as it is also known) coat, jacket, hat or handbag is experiencing more than a bit of a revival at the moment. Fashion designers all over the globe are including real sheepskin within their collections.

As Owen Barry is one of only a very few experts left in the UK nowadays, we are getting a lot of customers asking about what happens when their sheepskin gets wet.

So I thought I would answer of few of these queries in a blog post:

Q1 – Can I wear my sheepskin coat in the rain?

Straight answer = YES, every sheepskin coat should survive a rainstorm, they aren’t wax jackets that are built specifically for wet weather, so much like fabric coats, some will survive better than others, but they should all come out the other side in one piece especially if you follow my tips below:-

The more important question is

Q2 – How can I look after my sheepskin coat if I get caught in the rain  

So the most important thing is to let the coat dry as naturally as possibly, DO NOT try to dry it too quickly or expose it to too much heat,  sheepskin is basically wool, and you wouldn’t chuck a wet woollen jumper in the tumble dryer or put it on a piping radiator – SO don’t do that with sheepskin either!

Let it dry in a warm airy room, as it dry’s the pelt (the outside) might start to tighten up so next I tell you how to manage that: –

Q3 -My sheepskin jacket has gone stiff as it dried, what shall I do?

 It is a bit like when your leather shoes get wet they will go hard and you have to wear them to break them open again, or old fashioned denim jeans ( before stretch versions) the fibres would tighten up and retract or “shrink” and you had to manipulate the fibre to loosen it  – sheepskin can be like that after it has been dried following a soaking.

You need to “work” the sheepskin to break the fibres open again, I remember being taught how to do hand washing as a child (showing my age !) and working a stiff sheepskin pelt is a bit like that, you have to knead it and roll it through your hands, even try to stretch it open a little – but not too much. Obviously please temper your actions to reflect the skin, if you have a particularly fine lightweight skin, don’t stretch it from here to breakfast time , but similarly if you have a robust heavy piece, don’t be afraid, – put a bit of work into it.

Q4 – The rain has left rings on my sheepskin gilet/hat etc– what can I do ?

Rain spots can happen, especially if the sheepskin has a fine suede and it has been caught in drizzle, some areas can “change” slightly and very often little rings appear, these are just where the suede has been flattened by the rain drops – it very easy to remove these.

I suggest you buff the suede with a DRY scouring pad, the kind that you use for washing up, with the crusty on one side and the foam on the other.

Firstly use the foam side of the scouring pad, to generally brush off and revitalise the flattened suede nap.  Be sure when brushing, to try to use longer more fluid and random direction strokes rather than concentrating on a small area, make the area you are working on quite generous then you won’t strip the suede colour from a single patch.

Please use the foam side first, and only progress to the tougher crusty side if really dirt and the foam isn’t having any impact. – this is a good tip for removing dirt and grubby marks as well.

Q5 – The wool has gone coarse and curly

Oh dear – this is more of a toughie, wool is like hair, some hair will frizz when wet, other hair will go lank and flat, others will carry on looking stunning (don’t you just hate those people?  – sorry sorry diverted there !)  This is just nature, there is very little you can do without the combing/polishing and ironing facilities that specialist tanneries would have.

It’s the difference between going to a top-notch hairdresser and having a go at home – sorry.

If the wool was originally straight and flat you might well be able to gently brush and comb the wool, and get it to soften and lie flat.  But if it was curly most likely it is still curly, you best to leave well alone,  combing will make the wool go fuzzy,  alternatively, you could CAREFULLY prise open the tight curls with the prongs of a fork but really they will break open and loosen given time/ and wear.

All of the above is just advice from years of experience, I know you could do all of the above with an Owen Barry product.  BUT please, I obviously cannot make the same guarantees for all sheepskin products, because some are from different areas of the globe with different quality skins, tanning and manufacturing methods.  But if it is a reasonable quality sheepskin coat from a reputable supplier it should easily survive the rain, be it shower or downpour.

If you are in any doubt please contact the supplier, they will hopefully be pleased to help you.

 If it’s an Owen Barry coat, then what are you waiting for give us a ring or an email – that’s what a lifetime guarantee is all about folks! -Finally, there is more about cleaning your Owen Barry products here on our website  

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