PurseBlog Asks

I Suddenly Have an Irrational Craving for Shearling

Can this cold-weather staple translate into the summer season as well?

For the average lurkers on Instagram (like yours truly), the whirlwind of the past week has really left us gasping for breath. From the advent of Little Mermaid-core (and the entertaining discourse around live-action Flounder) to the second season trailer-launch of And Just Like That, Sofia Richie’s much-discussed wedding, and finally, the breathless anticipation surrounding the Met Gala, culminating in the wonderful weirdness that unfolded last Monday on the Colgate-hued carpet (whew!), am I the only one who’s planning to abandon social media to become a hermit? I think not. Plus, just when you thought pop culture couldn’t get any more ridiculous, the sight of a giant kitten waltzing amidst fancy-dressed celebrities traumatizes you forever!

Nevertheless, if the Met, with all its criticisms, has taught us one thing over the years, it’s that in fashion, the crazier it is, the better (look no further than Doja Cat for inspiration, who literally channeled her feline self for the evening!) So, in true crazy fashion, I have a confession to make. I’ve developed an irrational obsession with shearling at the height of the bleak mid-spring (bordering on summer). But wait, don’t leave just yet! Here me out, and I promise I’ll make sense.

How It All Started

My travails with finding the perfect work bag (I’m convinced by this point that no such thing exists) are no secret. It was during the course of my endless rumination that, one fine day, I came across perhaps the most perfect backpack ever made – the well-known Coach Bleecker on eBay. And not any ordinary Bleecker, but a limited edition, shearling-lined edition originally retailing for $1,800! The only snafu? It’s nearly summer, and shearling, in all its cozy, fuzzy glory, is perhaps the exact antithesis of that!

Loewe Basket Shearling Bag
Loewe Shearling Basket Bag

But is it really? As chronicled by GQ, shearling (or sheepskin) has a long and illustrious history, dating way back to the Stone Age. And soon after, these muppet adjacents morphed into signifiers of status, gaining popularity as a lux lining material for hats and coats. Those fleecy collars you see on soldiers’ jackets? All shearling. Until recently, though, its use was solely dictated by function – to keep you warm in the chilly temps!

In fact, it was when Marlon Brando and James Dean adopted it as standard Hollywood menswear in the 1950s that it took off as a fashion statement. And by the time the early-2000s rolled around, the material had achieved tremendous clout, first on Kate Hudson in Almost Famous (2002) and then through the fashion phenomenon we now know (and fear) as Juicy Couture.

The Rise of Shearling

Y2K was the decade of velour for pop culture fans, leading us to wonder how we wore winter clothing year-round back then. In fact, velour tracksuits and pajama sets (courtesy of Juicy Couture) were almost always accompanied by shearling accessories, be it Ugg boots, Blumarine baguettes, fluffy headbands, or sometimes all of the above, and we have Britney Spears and Flo Rida to thank for that.

But the early aughts were also an era of paradoxes. On the one hand, you had the proliferation of shearling motorcycle jackets and handbags from Acne Studios and Coach adorning every other starlet. On the other, animal rights activists were rallying for its downfall. This is because, although velour derives from cotton, shearling consists of recently-shorn sheepskin, classifying it as a fur-equivalent. Remember PETA activists throwing red paint on Samantha’s coat in Sex and the City? Yep, that about sums up the state of affairs back then.

Bottega Veneta Shearling Jodie

However, due to the animal rights awareness instituted at the time, many brands have since begun to make concerted efforts to eliminate fur-based products. As of late, this has led to a seasonal micro-trend of puffy leathers and faux fur on handbags. From crisp whites to toasty camel, dumpling-esque hobos, bejeweled totes, and a slew of functional, fleecy silhouettes that have begun infiltrating designers’ fall lineups, and Y2K divas couldn’t be happier! And who can forget the luscious BV Jodie, rendered in shearling, which won us right over here at PurseBlog?

Shearling for Summer? Groundbreaking!

That being said, though, as soon as winter’s over, all your gorgeous knits, plush suedes, and (faux) shearlings are going right back into the closet to be replaced by the likes of raffia, cotton, and denim, as if there couldn’t be a greater fashion faux pas than to wear them in the summer! And as begrudgingly as I must admit, haters of fleece, who often equate the material to ski resort-chic, do have a point.

While sheepskin is porous and breathable, allowing moisture (such as sweat) to vaporize easily, it can also stain just as readily, especially in a humid environment (where I live, it’s humid even in winter!). Plus, the material tends to lean on the expensive side, meaning getting enough cost-per-wear (if that’s what you’re looking for) may become slightly problematic.

Coach Shearling Tabby

But as they say, the heart wants what the heart wants. If you’re strategic about it, not even bad weather (or the million other summer activities that could potentially spell the death of your prized shearling) can get in the way of your desired fleecy piece. Just remember to pair lights with lights, and vice versa, to avoid color transfer, and although you won’t have a daily-ready carryall, at least an occasional piece (maybe in a cheery pastel shade or a hot Barbie pink) for the summer that’s sure to stun!

After all, aren’t rules just made to be broken? Or at least, that’s what I shall chant as I finally bid on that teddy bear of a Coach backpack now.


1 Comment
Most Voted
Newest Oldest
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
1 year ago

I like that Coach Tabby-although not the price! Did you win the Coach backpack? Sometimes summer nights can be chilly, so in a case like that, the shearling bag can work but I agree that it should be in a light color. Darker colors always tend to look more fall/winter in general. 🙂