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

A Lesson In Leather

vanessa jacobs

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.

Celine - snakeskin

Celine - 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!