Restructuring A Sombrero Bag

“Buy good things, own them a long time” – Stephanie Broek knows the importance of circularity in fashion. “I bought this Jil Sander Sombrero bag a few years ago on Vestiaire Collective. I love pieces that tell a story, they are more interesting to look at in my opinion. I’ve always loved shopping secondhand. As a fashion student on a budget my go-to places for clothes were flea market and thrift stores. After watching documentaries like True Cost and reading Dana Thomas eye-opening book Fashionopolis, buying second hand clothes became a political statement. I made a promise to myself to try and find a garment secondhand first before buying something new.”

As we all strive to lead increasingly more sustainable lives, repair should be our default lifestyle strategy – indeed, “circular fashion can’t happen without repair”. Go behind-the-scenes in our atelier as our team get creative in restructuring this bag to restore the iconic silhouette.

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The Assessment

With time and wear, leather naturally softens and begins to lose original rigidity. Stephanie’s bag had begin to collapse in the body and around the top edge. Many bags have an internal structure between the lining and outer shell to hold structure and shape. However, this bag does not have a lining, so our team had to get creative in their reinforcement approach.

Our stitching team assessed the shape and composition of the bag. They concluded that they would be able to affix an additional panel to the inside of the bag. As a result, this panel would maintain a more rigid structure without changing the original movement of the bag.

The Approach

Firstly, the bag needed to be deconstructed in order to affix the new structures. We began by opening the bag by unpicking the two side seams and removed the handles and fastenings.

Then, we sourced leather for the new panel. This would have to be thick and strong enough to support the structure of the bag, whilst also in a similar colour and texture to the existing interior. Using the bag to create a card template, we cut the reinforcement panel from the newly sourced leather. The perimeter of this new panel was skived to ensure the edges of the bag weren’t too thick or bulky.

With the bag open and the reinforcement prepared, we began affixing the new panel to the bag.

Once the reinforcement panels were secured in place, we could reconstruct the bag. Using the same colour thread as the original, we stitched the sides of the bag back together and reattached the handles and fastenings. We made sure that stitches only went through the original holes and no new perforations were made. We sealed the new reinforcement and original exterior panels at the top edge with specialist edge coat.

Stephanie loved the patina and colour variations that the leather acquired over time. Therefore, we cleaned the bag with saddle soap to nourish the leather whilst maintaining the aged look.

The Results

Restructuring this bag has restored its appearance whilst maintaining the original lived-in charm.

“I honestly gasped for air when I lifted the bag from the box. The shape is completely revived and in combination with the nourishment it looks brand new. It truly seemed like a de ja vu from when I just got the bag. Astonishing! So in awe of your team’s talent and craftsmanship”

Stephanie Broek

Are you considering restructuring your bag? Book a collection to transform your most loved items from worn to wonderful. Learn about other reinforcement transformations, like the case study of this Prada Galleria bag.

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