A long overdue topic, I thought long and hard on whether I should even have done this post in the first place. No brand out there is going to endorse what I’m going to say, and I must stress that these are my personal opinions.
So how does one go about caring for your coated canvas bag? The first thing you should do is to figure out if your bag is even coated canvas. Examples of lines that are coated canvas in the market today include Loewe’s Anagram (shown above), Louis Vuitton’s Monogram Canvas (as well as Damier Ebene and Damier Azur), Gucci’s GG Coated Fabric, the list goes on and on.
So what’s the first thing you do once you bring the bag home and the reality that you just spent your month’s salary sinks in?
Keep the stuffing of course. I’m a big fan of cramping my bags full of stuffing simply because I believe in keeping (and maintaining) the shape of my bag. If however the stuffing smells (it’s usually a mix of tissue and newsprint), invest in ‘butter’ paper which can be purchased at good bookstores and baking supply stores.
Unfurl them sheet by sheet, scrunch them up into a ball and stuff. Once you stuff it full (but not too full of course), keep it in its dustbag. If the dustbag is too small or the bag never came with one, use a clean pillowcase.
Here’s what I do when I use any of my bags. After each use, I wipe down the bag (just the coated canvas surface) with a soft cloth and put it back on the shelf like I found it, cleaned, stuffed and bagged.
When you put all the steps together it does seem a bit tedious, but at least I can say my bags look as good as the day I bought them. Now, can you say the same thing without batting an eyelid?
And here comes the juicy bit. I’ve been getting tons of emails regarding care of those pesky vachetta handles that’s a staple at Louis Vuitton. Generally leather that’s left untreated, it is susceptible to water and stains. Sunlight will cause the leather to darken in shade over time, also known as patina.
There are generally 3 ways to handle this, so pay attention.
When I got my first Monogram Canvas bag (remember my Keepall45?), I left it to fend for itself. It got shined on, it got rained on, and very soon it developed stains and splotches all over the vachetta. Over time I’ve grown to accept it and I refer to them as my bag’s ‘birthmarks’. So if you’re in this situation right now just let it be.
I’ve read about people who swear by this; taking their bags out (newly bought of course) and sunning them in short durations over weeks. What does this do? It gives the bag a more even patina, as opposed to it getting all patchy if left to the sun and rain. Be very disciplined when doing this though; sun both sides evenly and keep the durations similar.
This is most controversial; even the folks at Louis Vuitton strongly advise against it. There are chemical sprays in the market that you can use to spray onto the vachetta and it technically slows down the process of the patina. It also enables the vachetta to age more evenly, which is still better than it getting patchy. But because we’re all amateurs, spraying on too much (or too little) will mean an outcome that’s less than ideal.
There is hope. I do know of a place in Singapore that will do the spraying for you and it’s as good as it gets in my opinion (that’s where my Monogram Graffiti Keepall55 was treated by the way). If you’re keen, drop me an email and I’ll send you the address.
Leather 101 to come next so stay tuned!