CASE STUDY: The Vintage Hermès Kelly
Even bags made out of the highest quality leathers are susceptible to some wear and tear over time. This was also the case with the beautiful vintage Hermès Kelly we recently received and restored at our atelier. Passed down from the client's grandmother, the bag was a heirloom piece that had withstood decades. It just needed a bit of The Restory magic to be brought back to its former glory. Curious how the Hermès Kelly earned the status of one of the most beautiful and coveted bags in history? Follow the amazing journey of this iconic bag on our feature here.
Due to the age of the Kelly, the leather had become dull and faded at some areas of the bag. A few scratches were also showing up on the surface and the bag corners were in need of a good touch up. More prominently, both handle tabs were at a dangerous breaking point. As always, the first step is to prep the leather for restoration before any actual work can begin. And after initial assessment, the Kelly was thoroughly cleaned to remove any dirt residue, dust and oils from the surface of the leather that would naturally have built up over the years. The bag was then dyed black with a unique mix of dyes and conditioning cream to achieve a deep black tone that will bring back the original glossy colour while deep conditioning the leather.
Note: Leather is to be conditioned from time to time so the material is kept supple. This is an absolute essential step to prevent the leather from drying out and, in worst-case scenario, even cracking. When leather gets dry, it will loose all its softness as well as flexibility and there is increased chance it will become brittle and weak. One conditioning service every two to three months should be enough to keep your bag protected from surface scratches and keep the skin moisturized. Scheduling a little extra time for a bit of TLC can really add years to the longevity of a bag.
In order to replace the handle tabs, one of the most important steps in this restoration process was to source leather that has the closest match to the original. We always aim for our restoration work to look invisible and essentially to maintain the integrity of the design. Therefore, once removing them we traced the pattern of the original leather tabs to attain the correct sizing and after which the pieces were cut for the internal layering and stitched with precision; positioning each stitch by hand. Before the old tabs could be replaced, we had to unstitch the whole front flap of the Kelly to be able to reach into the lining of the bag.
The next step was to glue the leather tabs atop the flap, hand stitch them and re-glue the flap into the right position. This requires very detailed work as every single hole of the original stitch has to be matched carefully and the process takes much longer than usual since there is only 1.2mm of space between two stitches. However, it also allows for the very refined result Hermès is so renowned for. Then, we repainted the edges and finished it with a wax coating to recreate the smooth corners. Finally, another type of wax was layered on top to protect and condition the leather and achieve a beautifully dark and lustrous look.
Our in house artisans are experienced in re-colouring and restoring Hermès leathers so make sure to book in a service quickly when you discover your Birkin or Kelly could use a bit of extra help as most cases are solved with a quick touch rather than an extensive repair. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org with your query.