Reviving a Jaeger Doctor’s Bag

Before restoration

Jaeger, founded in 1884, is a British heritage brand and best known for its high-quality natural fibres. Founders Tomalin, Sankey and Ihlee embraced the theory behind Dr Gustav Jager’s book of using animal hair in clothing and began producing woollen garments. The brand saw Ernest Shackleton choose Jaeger to clothe him for his expeditions from 1907 to 1909 and when they began using woven camel hair as a fibre for clothing, the camel coat is an icon of the brand, even today. The brand has since expanded for all our wardrobe needs, including timeless leather goods, which is how we got our hands on this Doctor’s bag that was in need of a little TLC.

Before restoration – a close up
Before restoration – a close up

This well loved bag arrived in the atelier with the leather looking dull and tired with a number of scuffs along the bottom edge. The side gussets, traditional of the doctor’s bag, naturally slouch and add to the character of the bag.

The base was made from faux croc and although acted as a sturdy support for the weight of the bag and its contents, the corners had been so worn down the piping was exposed. This particular piping was filled with fabric cord, in some cases it is plastic which can snap and break through the leather, but in this instance we just used special fillers applied in thin layers to recreate the original shape to restore the corners.

Exposed piping
Exposed piping and hole in need of repair

Not only was the piping exposed but there was also a small hole in the body of the bag. In order to repair this, our artisan opened the lining at the corner where the hole was and used a small piece of skived leather to reinforce and conceal the hole which would protect the hole from further damage. This was then sanded and smoothed to blend in and the lining was stitched back with a blind hand stitch, as if it hadn’t been touched.

Restored and revived

Before the colour restoration could start, the bag needed to be cleaned and deglazed to remove excess dirt and the original protective finishing layer. This is to ensure the fresh layers of paint can adhere to the leather better and more evenly. To finish, our artisan matched the two different finishers to the original; one for the plain leather and another shinier finish for the croc.

A close up – restored and revived
Piping fixed and hole concealed
Colour restored

If you find the piping on your bag or purse is exposed or there are holes starting to form we have a number of techniques to repair and restore them. Just book a collection anywhere in the world through our online booking system or drop in-store at Harvey Nichols Knightsbridge. If you’d like a preliminary quote before sending it in, please just take some photographs and fill in our online form where our team will assess and come back to you.