Handbag 101: How to care for your designer handbag

Handbag 101: How to care for your designer handbag

January 29, 2022

When we buy luxury handbags, it often comes with an obvious expectation; that they will last us for years to come. Unlike on-trend high-street buys, handbags, especially the classic ones, can transcend multiple seasons—making them the obvious choice for an investment. But the fortune you spend on a luxury bag doesn't equate to the lifespan of your purchase. If you choose to carry your luxury handbag on the daily, it will be subject to its fair share of wear. Granted, the price tag ensures a certain level of quality, but the handbag will still need to be looked after to stand the test of time. Vogue got in touch with the best in the business to gather insider tips on increasing the life of your favorite bag.

How to store your luxury handbag

Don't store your bags in a haphazard way. Tina Craig, of the influential blog Bag Snob instructs, “I always recommend keeping your luxury bags stuffed with acid free tissue and in its original boxes, if possible. If space is an issue, store your soft tees and sweaters in your bags to keep shape and save space.” Never use newspaper as a filling, since the ink can transfer on to the lining of the bag. Additionally, wrap chain link straps and put them inside the bag so they don't mark the leather. And finally, carefully place it in its dust bag in an upright position, or lay it flat if it has top handles, to ensure that the handles don't touch the body of the bag.

How to save your handbags from moisture

Most purses come with a small sachet of silica gel to absorb excess moisture in the air, which you must never throw away. In cities like New Delhi, the cold weather brings in a dampness that can lead to mold growth. If by chance your bag has become mouldy, take it out of the dust bag, wipe it with a very soft, dry cloth and let it air out completely for 24 hours. Investing in a dehumidifier would be a great way to avoid mold growth on both your bags and clothes.

How to avoid color transfer

Be extra careful when handling colored leather. When in contact with wet clothes, or a wet surface, the dye can bleed and actually stain your garment. Same goes for patent leather and suede.

How to take care of your handbag when you're out and about

When at a restaurant, it is common practice for most of us to place our bags on the floor. Unless the bag comes with protective metal feet, it is best to avoid doing that. Instead, buy a portable bag hanger, which fixes on to a table where you can hang your bag. If you are traveling, try to keep your dust bag at hand so that when your bag goes through a security check, you don't need to expose the leather to a dirty conveyor belt.

General care

— Find a good handbag specialist in your city for general upkeep. “With regular visits to a handbag ‘spa', a piece's lifespan and resale value can be ensured and extended. In particular, moisturizing leather will protect against cracks and permanent damage,” explains Lucile Andreani, junior specialist, handbags and accessories at Christie's. If you own a Birkin or a Kelly, it is best to speak to Hermés before sending your bag anywhere. Otherwise, The Leather Laundry in Mumbai and New Delhi are experts, and have catered to the upkeep of designer handbags including Chanel, Dior and Louis Vuitton in the past.

— For roomy bags, use a purse organizer/insert. Loose items like makeup and pens, if left open by mistake, can ruin the interior lining. Always use a small cosmetics pouch to store liquid items, and never overload your bag. Doing so will not only distort the shape, but will damage the leather too.

— If you've got a water stain on the bag, let it dry naturally; but for serious stains, take it straight to a professional. For minor marks on a suede bag, Andreani recommends using a white eraser—a Steadler one will also do. Try an inconspicuous corner of the bag first, just to see if it doesn't spoil the color of the suede.

— With the rise of many pre-loved e-tailers, maintaining your beloved bags becomes even more important if you want to consider selling. “After you purchase a handbag, it may be tempting to rip open the box, trash the tissue paper and lose the receipt, but it is important to keep all of these items together if you want [to get] the best resale value. Collectors can overlook rare and collectible handbags with substantial condition issues and missing items, making it difficult to sell your beloved bag once the time is right,” says Andreani.

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