The most commonly used material in designer handbags is leather. The finest leathers, often crafted with highly skilled and technical processes, obviously deserve respect and to be treated with care.
You should always pay careful attention to the care instructions provided with your designer leather bag. That's the first step, but here are some tips on how to look after your leather handbag and to protect your investment.
- Understand what the different leather skins are
There is more to it than a handbag just being 'leather', and it pays to know what the different skins are so that you can choose the right one for your needs, and care for it correctly. Most leather bags are vegetable-tanned. The downside is the level can discolour and shrivel when very wet. Chrome-tanned skins are more water-resistant. Full-grain is premium leather and top-grain is thinner, and could be more susceptible to damage.
- Understand how to clean leather
The general rule of thumb is to remove dirt deposits by wiping down the leather with a cleaner that is specifically designed for that type of leather. Many designer labels stock their own in-house leather care products. Failing that, they often endorse or recommend particular brands. It's important that you don't forget the hardware on the handbag. Some will use precious metals that will require special cleaning. It's also good practice to get into the habit of wiping down your handbag with a soft dry cloth every other day. This really helps to preserve the longevity and the general appearance of the leather.
- Condition the leather
This is the same principle as a moisturizer which you apply to your own skin. Leather will dry out over time, so to prevent wrinkles and flaking, put a small amount of a conditioner on the bag with a soft cloth and gently rub in all over the bag. Mink oil or neatsfoot oil are good choices as they help to supplement the leather's natural oils. You should condition your handbag every month to maintain its shine.
- Weatherproof the leather
As leather is permeable, it can never be fully waterproof. However, spray protectants and beeswax creams can help to make the leather more weather and waterproof. Beeswax is the most effective option, but it can alter the colour of dyed leather. Therefore, it's always best to test it out on an inconspicuous spot of a bag first.
- Storing your handbag
It's not always the most practical thing to do, but if you are serious about looking after your handbag the best thing to do is to fill it with paper stuffing (anything but newspaper). This will help to maintain the shape of the bag. If possible, retain the bag in its original box with silica gel packets, which prevent dampness. Air the bag every fortnight.