You have already gone through several official care instructions from luxury brands like Chanel and Hermès, and some of you have even chimed in with your very own suggestions on how you care for your favourite leather bags.
Today’s post aims to be a summary that will apply to all bags, regardless of brand, a quick checklist (or reference guide, if you will) of what you should do to keep your leather bags in the best condition possible. The truth is there are way too many factors to consider on how one should care for your bags (suede, for example should be cared for differently from calf leather) but these 5 rules are the most basic of them all, and for best possible results they should be adhered to at all times.
The most crucial aspect of bag care has got to be storage, and there are several factors to take note of. First up, because Singapore is known for its extreme humidity, avoid storing your leather bags in the boxes they come in (some bags come wrapped in plastic too, which is another no-no), because that will cause moisture to be trapped.
Why? Moisture will lead to mould and cause irreversible damage, because no matter what you do, wiping if off just means you are spreading the mould’s spores even more. Instead, store them within the accompanying dust bag (you can even wrap it halfway so that you know what’s inside, placed on a high shelf in a well-ventilated spot away from direct sunlight or warm areas. Also, keep them away from aircon units too, because the same logic applies.
One more thing. Hardware. As far as possible, keep the metallic bits from touching the leather when the bag is stored. You could wrap it up with bits of fabrics cut-offs, and use the same fabric cut-offs (or spare ribbons) to tie up top handles that would otherwise be resting on the body of the bag.
Just like how you love leather for its soft and supple qualities, it will soften even more over the years, some even losing their shape altogether because it’s not cared for properly. What do you do? Get an old pillowcase you don’t use anymore, fill it with crushed paper (nothing printed on though, because colour transfers might occur), and use that to support your bag internally.
Some have suggested using a bag pillow (sewn to follow the shape of your bag with rounded corners), but unless you know what was used to fill the insides (cotton, discard fabrics, recycled newsprint?), do approach with caution. Or just use the old pillowcase trick. It’s free. You can even store bags without their accompanying dust bags in them.
Always use a soft dry cloth to give your bags a gentle wipe every once in awhile. If there are faint scratches on the surface, you can try rubbing it in a circular motion to ease it away, but do not do this if it’s a stain, because that can just make it worse. A number of brands like Coach have in-house care products to clean and care for your bags, while several brands like Goyard have a recommended set of products, you can enquire directly with the boutiques for more information.
If you prefer giving it the professional treatment (or because your bag simply looks way too lacklustre due to age), brands like Hermès offer their ‘spa service’, one that will make your bag even more beautiful and refreshed-looking after. Of course, maintenance extends to areas like repairs and after-care, so never attempt to DIY and fix that zipper pull if it gets out of place. Instead, check with the boutique you bought the bag from to see how they can help you with this; some do offer a general cleaning service together with maintenance/repairs.
05 Bag Rotation
Using anti-humidity sachets or ‘moisture absorbents’ like Thirsty Hippo is another no-no because this will have a drying effect on the leather, so you should avoid doing this at all times. Leather is actually ‘alive’, and it will benefit more with frequent use, something to do with the oils that occur naturally on your hands transferring onto the leather.
Instead, you should take your bags out regularly to give them ‘fresh air’ now and then, and you should put them into heavy rotation. Once a month? Once a week? Once every 2 or 3 days. You decide. And if there is something sitting in the back of your cupboard all forgotten, then maybe it would be better for you to re-home it and send it along its way. Because there is nothing worse than a bag you don’t want covered in mould you can’t sell. Really.