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July 07, 2022 3 min read

by Monique Youzwa

Monique has been a full-time freelance writer for over 5 years, plus has a few fiction credits under her belt and is currently working on a novel. When not writing, she spends her time reading, playing video games, hiking, and camping with her husband and daughter.


Part of leather production includes tanning, which uses chemicals that break down the proteins within the raw material. This process prevents the leather from deteriorating for a more durable piece, while also leaving behind the traditional brown coloring leather jackets are known for.

Of course, not everyone wants a brown jacket, which is why leather producers have begun offering pieces in various other colors. In fact, you can get a leather jacket in almost any color, including black, red, green, blue, yellow, or purple. So, how is leather dyed to create this rainbow of options? Let’s find out.

Leather Dying Process

Dying leather begins after the raw leather has been tanned. Though some manufacturers add some unique aspects to their method of dyeing, the main process remains the same.

The first step is creating a dye bath. The dye used is aniline dye, which is a transparent liquid that is easily absorbed into the leather material. The dye is first diluted and then both the dye and the leather are placed into a barrel. The barrel is then rotated and as it turns, the leather turns with it, exposing every inch to give the dye more access and ensure a consistent finish.

Once the dyeing process is complete, the leather is removed from the barrel and rinsed with pure, clean water. This removes any excess dye to prevent extra color from bleeding onto other clothing or skin when the leather piece is worn.

At this point, some manufacturers add their own nuances to the dyed leather. For instance, nubuck often has patterns imprinted on the dyed material. This isn’t common with all types of leather, though, so many leather companies skip this process.

The benefit of this dyeing process is that the color penetrates the entire leather piece. It will have the same shade on the inside and outside, as well as the middle of the leather that you can’t see. Dye baths don’t offer much in the way of protection, though, so many leather manufacturers also add a pigment spray on the outside to prevent moisture from seeping into the leather.

Pigment Spray Method

Though the dye bath creates a more even look, not every piece of leather is dyed this way. Some leather manufacturers use pigment spray to coat the outer layer of the leather. Though this method is faster and cheaper, the resulting piece is of lower quality and will deteriorate much quicker, becoming discolored and worn before its time.

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How To Maintain Your Leather Jacket’s Color

If you’ve ever bought a dyed leather jacket, you’ll have likely noticed that the price is higher than the average brown leather piece. The higher cost is due to the dyeing process, which can be tricky, even for the experts, especially for high-quality results. For this reason, maintaining that fantastic color is a must to be sure your investment is worthwhile.

Of course, not all colored leather jackets use the same grade of material. Poor-quality pieces will fade quicker, even when well cared for. Better quality leather holds the color longer, protecting it from fading.

Though your leather jacket will be exposed to sunlight when you wear it outside, you should keep it out of the sun whenever possible. Don’t hang it or store it anywhere that receives direct sunlight. You may even want to cover it during long-term storage for added protection.

how is leather dyed

Final Word

The classic brown leather jacket isn’t going anywhere but for those who want a distinctive look, a dyed leather jacket can offer a unique aspect to their wardrobe. The dyeing process isn’t easy and costs a bit more but it is also safe and lets you pick a jacket in any color that suits your fancy. If you liked our article or want to detail your own experiences with dyed leather, please feel free to leave a comment below.

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