Sheepskin jacket for men

What is Shearling: A Deep Dive into the Material

  Natana Nikola
  Fur Industry Technology Consultant




 In the realm of fashion and functional attire, few materials rival the timeless allure and practicality of shearling. Its sumptuous texture, insulating properties, and aesthetic appeal have made it a coveted choice across various industries. This article aims to unravel the intricacies of shearling, delving into its origins, characteristics, production methods, fashion applications, care routines, ethical considerations, and enduring allure.

Shearling vs. Sheepskin: Understanding the Basics

Shearling and sheepskin are often used interchangeably, yet they refer to distinct materials. Shearling is the hide of a sheep or lamb that has been shorn shortly before the tanning process, retaining the leather with the wool attached. In contrast, sheepskin is the skin of a sheep or lamb with the wool still intact, untreated or minimally processed. 

Historical Origins of Shearling

Shearling's roots lie in sheepskin, sourced from sheep or lambs. Historically, sheepskin was abundant in regions where sheep rearing was prevalent. The natural attributes of sheepskin, including its insulation and durability, made it a valuable commodity in ancient civilizations.

The historical lineage of shearling dates back centuries, where its usage transcended mere fashion. From ancient civilizations to medieval periods, shearling was employed for its insulation and comfort. Nomadic tribes utilized shearling for its warmth in harsh climates, showcasing its practicality long before it became a style statement. Shearling wool provided insulation, while the leather side offered durability against the elements. 

During the Middle Ages and Renaissance, shearling-lined garments were prized by the aristocracy for their comfort and became a symbol of status. Explorers in the 17th and 18th centuries depended on shearling clothing for protection during expeditions across uncharted territories. Advancements in manufacturing during the Industrial Revolution made shearling more accessible, leading to mass production and wider availability. Beyond practicality, shearling held cultural significance, symbolizing wealth, status, and sometimes having ceremonial importance in various societies.


Characteristics of Shearling

The enduring appeal of shearling lies in its ability to seamlessly blend functionality with fashion. Its luxurious feel, timeless elegance, and ability to evoke a sense of coziness contribute to its enduring allure.

Shearling boasts remarkable qualities, blending the softness of wool with the durability of leather. Its natural fibers offer superior insulation, moisture-wicking properties, and breathability, making it an ideal material for various climates.

Superior Insulation: Shearling's wool provides exceptional warmth by trapping body heat while allowing breathability, offering excellent thermal regulation.

Luxurious Comfort: The plush, soft texture of shearling's wool delivers unparalleled comfort, creating a cozy feel against the skin.

Moisture Management: Shearling's wool efficiently wicks away moisture, ensuring dryness and comfort in various climates.

Durable and Strong: The leather side of shearling ensures durability, offering resilience against wear and tear for longevity.

Natural Water Resistance: Shearling's lanolin content provides some water resistance, making it somewhat resistant to light rain or snow.

Hypoallergenic Nature: Shearling's natural fibers, containing lanolin, have hypoallergenic properties suitable for those with sensitivities or allergies.

Versatile Design: Shearling's adaptability allows for diverse styles and finishes, providing designers creative freedom.



How Shearling is Made

The process of creating shearling involves meticulous craftsmanship. After shearing, the hide undergoes cleaning, tanning, and sometimes dyeing before the wool is trimmed and finished, resulting in the luxurious material we recognize today. Here's an in-depth look at how shearling is made:


Sheep are carefully shorn to remove wool while keeping it attached to the hide.

Cleaning and Sorting:

Skins are cleaned, sorted by quality, and washed to remove impurities.


Tanning preserves and softens the hide, often done through methods like chrome or vegetable tanning.

Wool Processing:

Wool undergoes grooming and trimming for uniform texture and appearance.


Trimmed shearling undergoes dyeing or treatments to enhance its qualities.

Quality Control:

Inspection ensures high standards before the shearling is crafted into various products.

Crafting and Distribution:

Shearling material is utilized by designers to create coats, boots, and accessories before being labeled and distributed.

This streamlined process from shearing to the creation of final products showcases the careful steps involved in transforming raw sheepskin into the luxurious shearling material used in fashion and functional items available at

Types of Shearling

Shearling comes in various types, distinguished by the type of sheep, the length of wool, and the tanning process. Different types cater to diverse preferences and needs, ranging from long-haired to short-haired variants.

  1. Some Sheep Breed Varieties:

Merino Shearling: Known for fine, soft wool, ideal for luxury apparel.

Toscana Shearling: Long, curly wool for elegant, high-end outerwear.

Crossbreed Shearling: Blending varied wool textures and features. 

  1. Wool Length and Texture:

Long-Haired Shearling: Dramatic appearance for fashion-forward designs.

Short-Haired Shearling: Versatile, sleek appearance suitable for various styles.

  1. Tanning Processes:

Natural Tanned Shearling: Authentic, rustic appearance.

Dyed Shearling: Offers a wide range of color options for versatile designs.

  1. Shearling Finishes:

Nappa Finish: Provides a smooth, supple leather surface.

Antique Finish: Adds character with a weathered, vintage look.

Each shearling type has distinct characteristics, catering to diverse preferences in style, texture, and design, allowing for a broad array of products to suit different tastes and fashion trends.

Where to use Shearling?

Beyond fashion, shearling's versatility extends to home decor, upholstery, and accessories. Its plush texture and insulation properties make it a sought-after choice for blankets, pillows, and even car seat covers.

How to care for Shearling?

Proper maintenance is essential to preserve the beauty and longevity of shearling products. Proper care involves a combination of gentle cleaning, storage, and regular maintenance routines:

Cleaning and Maintenance:

Spot Cleaning: Gently dab stains with a damp cloth or brush lightly. For tough stains, seek professional cleaning.

Brushing: Use a soft-bristled brush to remove surface dirt and maintain wool fluffiness.

Storage and Protection:

Air Circulation: Store in a cool, dry area with good air circulation to prevent moisture buildup.

Avoid Compression: Store shearling items in spaces that allow them to maintain their shape.

Preventative Measures:

Avoid Water and Heat: Keep shearling away from direct water exposure and extreme heat or sunlight.

In essence, shearling stands as a testament to the marriage of nature's finest materials and human craftsmanship. Its journey from historical necessity to modern-day luxury embodies both practicality and style. Understanding its origins, characteristics, production methods, and ethical considerations enriches our appreciation for this remarkable material that continues to captivate and adorn our lives.

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