All of us have a leather bag somewhere at home. But not all of us have given it a lot of thoughts on how the bag we carry can define us or, what we want it to look like in years to come. So, it’s probably a good time to take note of a few things that’s worthy of your time when it comes to caring for your leather bag. (Well, this is a long one, so stay with us!)
- Pay attention to the types of hide used on your bag
Leather is one of the oldest materials used to make bags. Though the recent introduction of vegan leather from PU synthetics and other non-animal-based materials are making its way into the market, the original leather still remains the main option for many people. There’re more than 20 types of hides that are used to make leather goods and accessories, but most are still cattle skin. It is important to know the leather type as it will also determine what you can do or treat your leather bag given its characteristics
Quality (or the grains) of leather can vary a fair bit in bags
- Full-grain leather: At the top of the totem pole position is the full-grain leather. This represents the highest-quality leather that have not been sanded, buffed or snuffed. Given its thickness, strength and durability, they are commonly used for messenger bag, traveller bags, briefcases, etc. For anyone who loves a natural patina overtime with frequent use, this may be a good option.
- Top-grain leather: Mostly used for making high-end lproducts such as handbags, key cases, card holders, the top-grain leather is made from the top layer of cowhide with the outermost layer removed. It is sanded or buffed out so to take out blemishes and other imperfections (though the natural grain is also sanded off). These leathers are thinner and can be imprinted to give it a uniform look. It has finishes or coats that can prevent stains from sinking in too quickly.
- Suede & nubuck: They may be similar but also distinctively different in some ways. Suede is made by the sanding off of the inside layer of hides whilst nubuck is crafted from the sanded outside layer of the hide. Hence, explaining why nubuck tends to be thicker, sturdier and durable than suede. Whilst you can find both materials used in handbags, they are often found in footwear and accessories. Given the softer feel of suede, we can also find it used in next-to-skin items such as gloves or belts, etc.
- Genuine (corrected) leather: Don’t mistaken this with your full- or top-grain leather as the genuine leather has an artificial grain added to its surface. It is quite often the lowest quality of all products made out of real leather. Typically found in lower-priced handbags, belts and shoes that would not last for too long.
- Bonded leather: Usually made of leftover scrap pieces of hides. They are bonded together using latex or other chemical items such as polyurethane. This type of leathers is usually found in some handbags, but also leather book covers, phone cases, accessory linings, etc.
- Absorption level of leather
Understand if the leather bag is made of leather that’s highly absorbent or otherwise. Absorbent leather such as open-pored leather, aniline leather, suede and nubuck will see darkening of colour on the surface once water gets through into the leather fibre. Avoid using these types of leather in bad weather condition. As it’s more sensitive, you need to test all the treatments on your bag in a discrete area before working on full-scale as they can be easily damaged if treated incorrectly.
- Storage of leather bag
Whether leather is stored in tanneries or as an end-product in our home, it is important to take note of how we shelve the leather bag. Each leather type has elasticity or softness that react to a certain level of moisture in the air. You want to make sure that the storage area for your leather bag be at about 15-20 degree-celsius and with a relatively humidity level of about 50 to 70%. If humidity is too high and without sufficient air ventilation, the leather bag can become mouldy.
A high-quality and well-cared leather bag is durable and will last for years, looking refined with age. Just remember not to over-fill your leather bags because once it goes out of shape, it will not spring back to its original form easily.
Here are also 7 do-not’s when it comes to maintaining your bags
- Do not use any leather care products on your bag before a gentle wipe-down which will rid your bag of any dirt that can get entangled with your leather care solution.
- Do not attempt to rub hard on stains that you may have on your leather bag. You may be risking damaging the leather surface.
- Do not use aggressive or abrasive solvents such as nail polish remover, or any solutions with high turpentine content on leather bag. It will cause more damage.
- Do not use cosmetic creams. Leather needs its own special formulation given its treatment during its production and manufacturing process.
- Do not leave your bag outdoor under direct sunlight for too long. The colour can fade overtime and its leather fibre dried out prematurely.
- Do not attempt to dry out your leather bag using fast and easy way such as putting it under a hairdryer or near a heater for a quick-dry. Lest if you like a wrinkle or two on your bag.
- Do not throw your leather bags on top of one another. Too much pressure on the leather will lead to wrinkles, creases and pressure marks. Give them the right breathability level and maintaining the shape it deserves.
So, now go get some good care for your leather bag. Questions? Simply email us at email@example.com.