There’s no greater feeling than treating yourself to a new handbag. Unlike other items, we hold our handbags to a higher standard and expect them to last for years to come. It’s the one item in our wardrobe that is guaranteed to get the most wear, worn from season-to-season, and in some cases, passed down from generation-to-generation. Granted, our luxury handbags carry with them a heftier price tag for a reason and do ensure high-quality and longevity, but that’s coupled with an unspoken commitment to treat them with care. And what greater time to treat our handbags to some TLC then now?
Womenswear Buyer Roshali Kaul shares insight into how to store and look after our handsfree heroes.
How to store
Arguably the most important part of looking after your luxury handbag comes down to storing it right. Womenswear Buyer Roshali Kaul instructs “I always recommend keeping the original stuffing inside the bag to ensure it holds its shape and doesn’t crease – this is especially important if your bag is a soft leather like lambskin, deer or snakeskin.”
It’s important to also remember to use acid free tissue and never use any ink-based paper or filling, such as newspaper, as the ink can transfer onto the lining of the bag. If your bag has chain link or metal straps, ensure you put them inside the bag, so they don’t mark the leather.
“I store everything in its original dust bag which protects it from the elements, however it is important to make sure you are storing the items away from heat, moisture and direct sunlight. If you can, I highly recommend getting a dehumidifier, alternatively, most handbags come with a small sachet of silica gel which can absorb moisture, ensure you hold onto this. Always open up your items once in a while to give them a chance to air out and to check for any mould or discolouration. Lastly, store your bags upright too – remember leather is a natural skin which will react to how you treat and care for it.”
If you use bag hooks, ensure you don’t hang multiple handbags on one hook for various reasons, but most importantly, colour can transfer over time and the leather will stretch and change and can easily be damaged from rubbing.
How to use
While most of us treat our handbags better than we treat ourselves, there are a couple of things to keep in mind to ensure the longevity of our prized possessions. Roshali Kaul says “I try not to use the same bag over and over again and change it up where possible in order to minimise wear and tear.”
Try to avoid putting your handbag on the floor. While it’s common practice and natural to do this while at a restaurant or at home, it’s the easiest way to damage the leather. If a surface is wet or damp, or comes into contact with liquid, the dye can bleed and stain the handbag. This rule applies to suede and patent leather too. The same goes for travel, where possible, avoid putting your handbag down on conveyer belts. If you can, bring your dust bag with you so you can quickly pop it in before proceeding through the security check. However, if your bag has protective metal feet and you don’t mind a bit of gradual wear and tear, you should be fine.
How to clean
The secret to cleaning your luxury handbag is to not over complicate it. If you can’t get to a handbag ‘spa’, you can easily give your bag a bit of TLC with a soft cloth and some water. It’s important to remember that leather is a natural skin and will react to how you treat and care for it just like our skin does. With that in mind, the best type of protection you can give your handbag is prevention, meaning regular cleaning will ensure longevity. For everyday bags, giving them a wipe over every few weeks is recommended, whereas for those reserved for special occasions, bringing them out of storage for a wipe down every couple of months is fine. Following a clean, allow your handbag to dry in a dry, cool area, out of direct sunlight.
Roshali Kaul advises “Avoid using product where possible, especially anything abrasive or acidic. Never use baby wipes because most have alcohol in them. You can use a leather conditioner if necessary, but always, always, do a patch test first to ensure the colour of your handbag doesn’t change.”