Do Leather Jackets Stretch? (5 Things That Determines It)

do leather jackets stretch

There are a lot of changes a leather jacket will go throughout its lifetime. But does this include the leather jacket stretching? In this article, I’m going to share with you details on whether leather jackets stretch and other information that will help bring clarity to this topic.

So do leather jackets stretch? Leather jackets stretch due to how supple and elastic their fibers are. Leather jackets will mainly stretch when they get wet or more commonly due to wear and time. One of the key things that influence how stretchy a leather jacket can be is the type of leather used. While full-grain leather will have the tendency to stretch, bonded leather will have the least amount of elasticity so will not stretch.

In the remaining parts of this article, I’m going to share with you the details on the things that cause leather jackets to stretch and a couple of helpful tips.

1. Leather Jackets Will Stretch Due To Wear

One of the basic reasons why your leather jacket will stretch is due to wear. The more you wear your leather jacket, the more it will stretch out.

Leather is such a versatile material it will begin to take the shape of its owner. Leather jackets can even stretch to suit the owner even when they gain weight over the years.

Your real leather jackets will go on a journey with you. When you gain weight, your leather jacket will stretch to accommodate the new body weight and when you decide to lose the weight your leather jacket, with time, will shrink appropriately.

This makes leather one of the best materials for jackets and this is why leather is the perfect material for hardwearing goods like shoes, jackets, to mention a few.

Leather’s ability to stretch is important because such a quality allows newly purchased leather jackets to naturally fit the user.

Whenever I have a new leather jacket, I always ensure to wear the new leather jacket as often as possible. Usually between 2-3 hours a day.

Leather’s ability to stretch always allows me to easily break into any leather jacket, shoes, or hats I purchase.

2. Leather Jackets Stretch When Totally Submerged In Water

Another common thing that can cause your leather jackets to stretch is water. Water is not an arch-enemy of leather but can cause some negative effects that can result in the leather jacket becoming moldy, develop wrinkles, stretching to mention a few.

Leather jackets will particularly stretch this way when they get submerged into water that is a little bit warm or when they get drenched in the rain.

What can cause the leather jacket to stretch quicker after it has gotten wet is when the leather jacket is not allowed to dry properly. While leather jackets will stretch this way, it is a good way to break into a leather jacket naturally.

You will get a lot of stretching on your leather jacket if you also roughen the leather jacket up by bending and pulling it while it is still wet.

Leather will often stretch out this way but it is also important to add that you do not want to submerge your leather jacket in water as it can cause it to stretch, but instead, you can use a soft damp microfiber cloth to moisten your leather jacket slightly. Also, remember to condition your leather jacket once the leather jacket comes into contact with water.

3. Leather Jackets Will Stretch When Conditioned Too Often

Leather is a special material made by treating raw animal skins into a material that will not degrade. The treatment process that turns raw animal skins finally into leather, is commonly known as tanning.

Tanning gives leather all of its unique, beautiful, durable qualities. While leather as a material can be said to be one of the most durable materials for things like shoes, bags, jackets, etc, it will still require some amount of tender loving care to ensure it remains in good shape for a long time.

Even though leather is a durable material, you need to care for it properly to ensure it remains highly functional and durable throughout its use.

Conditioning leather jackets is something you will have to do as religiously as possible. This is because your leather jacket will often have direct contact with parts of your body.

While the feel of the leather jacket on your skin will be soothing due to how supple feeling leather is, eventually, body oils and sweats will begin to build up.

Without cleaning and conditioning the leather jacket, the body oil builds up among other things can destroy both the appearance and the structure of the leather jacket.

While conditioning is key to maintaining a healthy-looking and functional leather jacket, leather conditioners contain oils that make leather very soft.

Once the leather conditioner absorbs into the leather jacket, the jacket will begin to feel softer and will naturally start to feel stretched out.

Some of the most common natural leather conditioners that may cause the leather to particularly stretch more are those that contain mink oil or coconut oil.

4. Leather Jackets Will Stretch Due To Heat

Another thing that can cause leather jackets to possibly stretch is heat. Heat can loosen the fibers of leather material and then cause the leather to stretch with very slight pull or little use to it.

Generally, our body temperature, over a period of time will cause a leather jacket to gradually stretch – especially If you’re one of those guys who like to dry your leather jackets with a hairdryer.

Also, heat sources like iron could also stretch out your leather jacket. Now, why would anybody iron their leather jacket you ask?

Ironing leather materials in general will become an alternative when you want to remove creases from your leather. But while ironing is going to help remove creases from your leather, it can also cause the leather to stretch.

Putting your leather jacket in drying will not only cause your leather to stretch out but also dryers are too hot and seriously aggressive – which can cause your leather jacket to dry and lose its suppleness.

This is why you should never put your leather jacket or any other leather-made products for that matter into a dryer. Instead, dry your leather jackets where necessary using a clean dry washcloth or microfiber cloth due to how safe they are.

What about the sun? The sun might be one of the common ways your leather jacket will get some heat on it as they are worn. As unusual as this may sound, wearing your leather jacket when it is sunny is also a way your leather jacket can slowly stretch out.

This can not be considered the only way leather may stretch but it is definitely going to add up to the chances of leather stretching out.

The heat you deliberately or in-deliberately apply to your leather jacket will generally make your leather jacket softer and when the leather jacket is in use while having some amounts of heat or warmth on it, the leather jacket can stretch out.

5. Size And Type Of The Animal Source For The Leather Jacket

Almost any animal with skin can be extracted and processed into leather. This means bigger animals ranging from cattle, buffalos, horses, mules, zebras, crocodiles, alligators, etc can be sourced and used for leather items like jackets.

Also, small-sized animals such as sheep, goats, kangaroos, snakes are also sourced and used to make leather articles. Leather sourced from larger animals, treated and turned into leather are known as hides while leather sourced from smaller animals is called skin.

Comparatively, leather sourced from larger animals (with the most common being cowhide) are a lot more likely to stretch than smaller animals like sheep or goat. Meaning leather sourced from smaller animals are not quite stretchy.

So the size of the animal from which the raw animal skin is sourced and used to make the leather jacket can also determine whether or not the leather can stretch.

Another determining factor as to how elastic leather can be is due to the type of leather. There are 4 main types of leather namely full-grain leather, top-grain leather, corrected grain leather, and bonded leather.

All these 4 different types of leather will be different in terms of their elasticity levels because of their individual unique characteristics.

The full-grain leather is generally the toughest leather as it retains the original tensile strength of the animal skin. Although the toughest, the full-grain leather also has the best ability to stretch.

This is because full-grain leather comes from the top layer of the animal skin. The part of the skin of the animal that is a lot more resistant and protected the skin of the animal from abrasion and the harsh elements of the weather.

The top grain leather on the other hand has the tendency to continually stretch over time. Top grain leather is obtained after the full-grain layer has been split. The top layer of the animal is then sanded down to give it a soft flexible feel. Leather jackets made from top-grain leather will continually stretch over time.

The corrected-grain leather is made from the remaining layers after the top layer and full-grain leather has been slit and obtained. Due to this, leather jackets made from corrected grain leather will have very minimal elasticity to them.

Finally, bonded leather will have the least amount of elasticity thus leather jackets made from bonded leather will be less likely to stretch.


Hi! I’m Kwabena, the owner and founder of Favored Leather. I’m a huge Leathercraft enthusiast and I’ve been that for almost 13 years now. I'm excited to share my experiences and all the new stuff I learn each day about leather craft, leather cleaning & care, and everything in-between!

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