Shoe Repair London, Handbag Repairs London - The Restory, London

A Lesson In Leather

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When you fall in love with a bag featuring the fashion pages, or you have gone all heart-eyes Emoji with your recent purchase, don’t forget the design process has considered every tiny detail down to the finish and quality of the leather itself. There are arrays of leather types from skin types and cuts, to textures and finishes. Just like the diverse library of garment fabrics out there; the leather can influence how an accessory behaves in its appearance from new and its longevity.

A majority of bags received at The Restory are made from cow, goat and sheep leather, but exotic skin, fur and even fish leather pop-up from time to time. Cow leather begins as a thick skin and is then split it multiple skins. A general rule is you pay for what you get; the full grain cut from the skin is the best quality and next to that is the top grain. When it comes to the more delicate exotic skins we look at the quality of the skin, including the markings on the skin as a whole. The restoration process of leather is extensive due to the variety so we’ve highlighted some of the need to know leathers and how they can be kept looking the best always!

Hermes - bull calf leather

Hermes - bull calf leather

You will see many designer leather bags in flashy colours. This is chrome or aniline leather created through the tanning process to reach deep shades, bright colours or neon’s. Fast-forward a few seasons: this means the ‘paint’ is superficial and so when it comes to patching areas that have lost the colour you won’t even notice what has been restored. The fine texture of the leather will be retained without altering the look of the grain. A matt or a gloss finish can be created to change it up or just restored to it’s original. The ‘If You Could Turn Back Time’ blog is an expose on refashioning options for wardrobe mainstays in need of some spice.

The Chanel 2.55 is made from aniline dyed lambskin leather

The Chanel 2.55 is made from aniline dyed lambskin leather

Some of the more structured bag styles are made from vegetable tanned leather. Our obsession with the Mansur Gavriel bags is the perfect example. The beauty of this leather is that there is no top finish which means it is see-through and naturally matures and changes with time. It is very important to hydrate the leather to enhance the tannins and to condition, as you would moisturise your own skin. Without this you’ll notice the leather will start to crack and fade. With this type of leather it will eventually show scratches, changes from sun exposure and marks from the rain! With some efficient dye and conditioning techniques the colour and finish can be restored to minimise these sometimes too personal spots.

Mansur Gavriel's core collection is veg leather

Mansur Gavriel's core collection is veg leather

Now for a total contrast: the exotic leathers. Rather than block colouring, exotic skins are often treated by hand. The Row’s Alligator backpack is a perfect example of supreme exotic leather. Crocodile leather is generally hand dyed so the detail of the scales is kept as a visible feature. As being an extremely durable leather, it will last a lifetime if maintained by regular conditioning and colour touch-ups. The colour can be enhanced and a protective varnish re-applied. Snakeskin leather can be hand dyed or painted by hand. Again it appears as a delicate material but is hardy and long lasting.

The Restory’s case study: ‘The Exotic Skin Clutch’ is the perfect example of how the colour and scales can be maintained by sending in for an accessory MOT.

Gucci - snakeskin

Gucci - snakeskin

The knowledge of the Atelier goes beyond print and comes down to experience whereby sampling and testing ensures restoration techniques are always evolving. The Restory’s service and skills are bespoke to every piece, as designers and factories are constantly creating new styles and finishes. Just like life, there is no such thing as one size fit’s all. Luckily life’s little hacks such as pen marks, denim stains, oil spillages, water marks or scuffed edges can be given the boot!

If You Could Turn Back Time

vanessa jacobs

Livia Firth’s ethical fashion Instagram campaign #30wears showcases items from her wardrobe that are on track to have their own autobiography! Every piece has a story or has bee refashioned as an update. Whilst fun fast paced fashion will always serve us, we have moved towards the most loved and best-enjoyed pieces. We have often heard friends lament “If only I’d bought two-“, referring to their accessories that have served as a mainstay but are now looking “well loved”. Then there will always be the not so successful purchases that sit in the back of the wardrobe waiting in turn, dormant and the ones that are past season so become stashed away until they come around to headline the fashion pages again. Much like the Marie Kondo mantra: ask yourself “does it spark joy?” Refashioning could be the answer.

This summer our fashion magazines are having a Schiaparelli meltdown! Yes to giant Lobster embellished swimsuits and coral covered espadrilles as seen in the FT, How to Spend it supplement. Handbags feature embroidered Margarita’s, sequined ice cream cones and rhinestone-embellished flowers. Motifs are everywhere like a serial Emoji user. The Dolce & Gabbana Lucia shoulder bag is described, as “bejewelled” not “over-dressed”. Busy is best!

dolce

If you want a bag-refashioning binge, The Restory’s bespoke service enables the client to collaborate by sharing ideas and sourcing options to select a tailored design solution. Embroidered applique’s can be added, with sequined ice cream cones included. It is possible to add unique leather tags, tassels or pompoms in place of the standard zip pull. Bag handles can be customised, like the luggage style straps seen at Fendi: rhinestone-embellished flowers are the favourite here too. The same can be transforming for shoes; fringing, tassels, fur or velvet bows. A removable clip-on style can be wise.

For the Scandi’ minimalist, the silhouette can be your defining ruler. To create a bespoke graphic look to your bag you could have it re-edged in a contrasting colour. Or replace the zip with a dazzling coloured one. For all of you who have exhausted your open back Gucci loafers because they are phenomenal in every way, refresh the insole sock with something zingy so it catches a second glance when your feet nonchalantly flip. There is a library of colours to choose from.

Fast-forward to full re-colouring with patterns or contrasting panels in different colours. Think sports luxe like the Balenciaga Bazar striped shopper or the contrasting colourful panels on the Celine Cabas. And have you seen the new Celine painted python bags? The Restory can actually do this for you. Give your python bag a new skin by painting specific parts of the bag or you can go Mexicana with your designs; add colour, patterns, logos or initials. We are embracing everything colour!

We see some of the best-loved pieces that The Restory receives regularly with results that are jaw-dropping impressive. The Chanel 2.55 is a consistent regular, with the most recent receiving a full colour maker-over from tarnished white leather to a transformed solid black with a supple new appearance. Having the power to rewrite the destiny of a Chanel bag can be thrilling!

WHEN SUITCASES AREN’T ON THE GUEST LIST

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How do you guarantee the ultimate festival experience when three outfit changes a day is practically impossible? This is a standard life hack during the festival season.

Festivaling’ has evolved in a monumental way, with organiser’s recognising we are just plain happier when we are comfortable. Although that doesn’t mean we can rock up wheeling an entourage of suitcases, high living options are still available.

There are many of us who don’t jump for joy when presented with a lightweight survival course in our weekend residence: a tent. Here, we look to sunnier times. Savvy pre-pitched tents, available at the likes of Bestival and high-end festival fashion parades with the thrills and practicality.

Image taken from @alessandraambrosio

Image taken from @alessandraambrosio

The not so soft on the lips Gorpcore trend (yes, I know right?), an evolution of Nomcore, has brought purposeful fashion back with vitality. Wear useful stuff because it is useful. We are not preaching to just the hiking collective. Even when you are having fun on your feet all day, you will still want to look the ultimate!

Festivals have become an adult dressing-up utopia so you can embrace the Gorpcore trend head to toe. For your feet we love the Hunter special festival edit. When you return with a field of mud, bring them to The Restory for a full deep clean service. We don’t mind a bit of mud in the knowledge it was from the iconic Bestival main stage, in fact we may even feel privileged! If heading for guaranteed great weather, your best friend, the trainer should be at front of the stage with you. Even if you don’t know what you are listening to, your feet will be happy for hours. What’s more The Restory works wonders on trainers; read about it here.

When it comes to carrying your valuables, rucksacks are practical but not sociable in crowds, so opt for a cross-body bag or a belt bag. We believe the Gucci Marmot belt bag makes the utilitarian cut. This number sits close to the heart, both yours and mine, and will ensure your life’s essentials are in easy compact reach. Don’t panic about a fruity festival cocktail spillage either. Our Atelier is expert at removing sticky stains and any scuffs can be quickly healed with some skilled colour touch ups.

Images taken from @pamela_rf

Images taken from @pamela_rf

The Vacation Edit: How to Pack

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The number of people flying worldwide reached to 3.77 billion in 2016, so when it comes to your luggage, the airlines have their work cut out to make sure your
beloved possessions arrive safely. It’s their job to do that. For you, it’s a question of thinking about what you’re going to take with you and how to pack it.
 

 

LOVED ONES
Options are optimal! Whilst it’s great to be prepared, a brief survey amongst fellow devout shoe lovers concluded that an average of five pairs of shoes are packed, even on a minibreak. Leaving you with few options other than to wear every holiday outfit at the same time on the journey to your destination. Pack what you will actually use, plus a fabulous reckless pair just in case! Anything can happen on holiday. Before your shoes head for some origami style packing, provisions need to be made.

Always put each shoe in an individual shoe bag for maximum protection. It's a sure way to prevent the shoes coming into contact to avert unnecessary scratches or colour transfer on the leather. Add some type of padding inside the shoes to keep their shape; simple tissue paper or lightweight shoe trees should suffice. If space is an issue, you can insert some of your smaller soft items as padding instead.

 

DON’T FORCE IT
We have all been there; holiday outfits meticulously laid out on the bed, but no science will make enough room in the suitcase to fit them all into that compact cubic space. Instead, be tactical with your packing. Contrary to lots of online advice, we would recommend placing your shoes at the top of the suitcase so they don’t become compressed at the bottom. Essentially this means packing them last. It will also allow more space because the top of a suitcase expands slightly more than the lower part. In more detail, this is to prevent crushing the toe box or the counter/quarter (the back part of the shoe). These areas are usually moulded, which keeps the shape of the shoe and this can invert if left with applied pressure. Lastly, pack the shoes in a heel-to- toe formation, keeping them flat, side by side.

PREPARE
Before you descend into the ultimate relaxation zone, be sure to plan ahead by
servicing those carefully selected pairs.  Sometimes we think we are honestly just paying for sunshine when we jet off across the ocean. If rain does appear, you could save yourself a surprise by adding a protective sole and even requesting a protective treatment for shoes made from delicate suede and fabrics. Read our case study, “Things we wish you would stop doing”, which includes some tips in case you are caught out by a spot of rain. Remember, it's not just your shoes. The Restory specialise in cleaning your luggage too, from weekend jaunt holdalls to more capacious bags for your long haul holidays.

Book a collection on your return and be ready for the next one!
 

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