Everything is accustomed to wear and tear and leather is no different. If the wear and tear goes unnoticed then the chances are that your leather handbag doesn’t stay your companion for long. What does one do to ensure that your travel companion travels far with you? The modern day fast paced living has made it even more difficult to take care of your belongings and as such they bear the brunt when they are neglected. Well it’s not as dreary as it seems as you can still safeguard your leather bag if you had the will. And where there is a will there is surely a way. Let us spend some time here to dispel any notions that you might have connected to your leather handbag maintenance.
Cleaning your leather handbag is easier than you thought it is. It is just a matter of going that extra mile to flaunt your prized possession the way you did when you bought it originally. To retain the love for your leather handbag let’s get down to some work basics. Here is the list for a better bargain of your leather handbag’s life.
The exterior of your purse must look like the exterior
An old saying states that the first impression is the last impression. Well it’s time we abided by that. The exterior of your leather handbag is often times subject to the severities of the external environment. These could be in the form of the drastic weather conditions or even through touching with your skin which carries natural oils. Cleaning its exterior once in a week would suffice. A few drops from your mild liquid soap bottle will do the magic here. Mix these few drops with two cups of warm water until it foams up. Immerse a soft cloth in this ready mix and wipe your bag’s surface with the damp cloth. After a while just buff dry with another dry piece of soft cloth and you are done.
The interior needs more attention
While the exterior falls prey to the external factors, the interior succumbs to wear and tear owing to large variety of utility tools that you tend to carry wherever you go. First things first, empty all the occupants in your leather handbag before you start the cleaning operation. The edges in the interiors of your bag are the chief culprit here. They tend to swallow the dust and dirt in such a way that they are not noticeable easily. Well there’s the catch, your vacuum cleaner will play the army here. Allow it to suck the dust particles through the hose so nothing of the dirt remains. Once the dust has been taken care off, it’s time to get back to the soft cloth business. Use the damp cloth dipped in the liquid soap and warm water mix to clean the interiors and any stains which might be rusting there. Allow the handbag to dry for a while before the usual inhabitants go back into place.
The various stains and their equivalent pains
The way you use your leather handbag will determine the amount or kind of stains that it is susceptible to. Given the outgoing nature of your handbag, in most cases it is bound to become a victim of these dreaded stains. While stains can vary from being heavy stains to deep stains, they both require your equal amount of attention. On a genuine leather handbag it will be easy to wipe off the grease stains. To clean off the ink stains you will need to take a cotton swab and dip it into alcohol. Use the swab that is dipped in alcohol to gently rub the ink stain until it disappears. Now just let it dry. The deeper stains such as the ones resulting from food, wine and blood would require an additional effort. Prepare a paste with one part tartar and one part of lemon juice. Now apply this paste liberally onto the affected surface and let it stay there for about ten minutes. After ten minutes, just wipe it off and clean the handbag in the routine way as described above with a soft cloth.
Even the leather requires re-conditioning
Finally even the leather requires the re-conditioning like we all do. The after effects of re-conditioning are that it offers flexibility to the leather and provides resistance against the terrible stains. To make this happen, mix one portion of white vinegar with two portions of linseed oil. Dip a piece of soft cloth in this solution and apply it in the form of circular motion onto your leather handbag’s surface. Allow the solution to seep into the leather for fifteen minutes. Now use a dry cloth to buff the leather handbag and restore its beautiful shine. Do this step twice a year and make your companion travel far with you.
You have spotted that perfect pure leather handbag in the boutique window. It looks so amazingly chic from across the glass pane that you can’t help but open the door and walk in to have a closer look. The shop assistant obligingly takes it down from the display to let you have a dekko. And here the doubts begin.
It still looks good but you aren’t sure if it is, in fact, real leather. Naturally you don’t wish to waste your good money on a wannabe fake leather bag. It would be as sacrilegious as paying for diamonds and taking home cubic zirconium! So how do you know if the bag in your hands is indeed a genuine leather bag, and not a close imitation of the real thing? Here are some tips on differentiating the real from the faux.
1 – See the bag up close
Check the label. If the label says pleather or rexine or synthetic or manmade material or any set of words to similar effect, you know it is not fit to be your arm candy.
What if it says ‘100% real leather’? Do you then take it face value? Well, this is the point where all this information that we are bringing to you will come in handy.
Check the price tag. If it is too reasonable, it cannot be the genuine article. Real leather does not come at bargain bottom rates and no seller sells to make a loss, period.
Take a close look at the geometric pebble-like surface pattern. Is it too uniform or is it random? As real leather is basically natural animal skin, it has minor imperfections (like with real emeralds, that tiny hint of imperfection is actually the most important factor!). Real leather will have semi-random surface structure and unevenly spread pores (minute holes where animal hide had hair) like you have on your own skin. Fake leather lookalikes have too even a texture with monotonously spread pores that just scream fake.
Check the seams next; especially where two cut edges are coming together. Manmade material is thinner and usually has fibres or threads at its exposed edges; or it feels like a sharp plastic edge. Real leather, on the other hand, is thicker with grainy rough edges. Also check the needle holes.Real leather is inherently stretchable so holes in it are a little uneven and seem to close in on the thread. Fake leather has no suppleness so needle holes are circular and distinct.
Bags usually come fully lined but do check if the back of the leather is visible anywhere? If it has a suede finish, it is real leather. Many brands attach a piece of purse’s leather to the tag, do look for it. Fake leather is usually backed by cloth or plastic, a dead giveaway.
2 – Feel the bag.
Run your fingers and palm over the bag’s surface. Fake leather is too artificially smooth. Real leather can come in varying degrees of coarseness or smoothness but being natural, it is always a little uneven, somewhat irregular yet pleasantly warm to touch, like skin. I must talk here of real Italian leather bags, by far the best in the world. Real Italian leather is full grain cowhide, has a smooth buttery sheen and is simply luxurious to touch. The real thing is so above the fake, that once you have used the genuine article, you will not touch fake ones even with a barge pole.
Real leather is supple and stretches in both directions. Stretch the material and you will see the pebble-like patterns disappear and come back when you release the material. Dig in your finger and run your fingernail over it, real leather scratches, wrinkles and regains original form slowly, like your own skin does under such treatment. Fake leather stays unaffected.
Weigh the bag in your hand. Discounting buckles, zippers and studs, real leather is heavier than fake leather. A decent sized real leather bag will never be a feather weight.
3 – Smell the bag.
Pick up the bag and sniff it. Fake leather is made from synthetic material and has a smell reminiscent of glue or plastic. Real leather on the other hand is real skin albeit treated and it has a distinctive ‘leathery’ scent
4 – Flame and saliva tests
As you can understand for obvious reason, we do not recommend that you conduct these tests to check a leather bag on display. However, since we are discussing key differentiators, you ought to know about these two parameters as well.
If you were to hold a lighter flame or a lit matchstick close to real leather, it will resist burning up to a point. However if flame is applied consistently, real leather will burn but without a flame and emit a flesh burning type of odour. On the other hand, fake leather will catch fire in seconds, burn with a flame, bubble up and smell like burning plastic.
Next, the saliva test. Real leather is absorbent, fake is not. If you were to rub a bit of saliva onto real leather, it will get absorbed. On fake leather, it will simply stay afloat.
5 – Your best bet to buy a real leather bag? Buy it from a reputed seller.
It takes years of practice to tell real leather from fake in a glance. Unfortunately not all of us are connoisseurs or have the time to get that kind of practice. If in doubt; buy your real leather bag from a reputed seller only. One who values his/her brand and has a proven track record. That’s your best bet to get a genuine real leather bag.
Famous last words
The high appeal of real leather comes out in its sophisticated looks and hardy durability which imitations cannot even begin to match. In many ways, real leather is like gold (doesn’t tarnish), diamonds (don’t chip or crack) and great wine (gets better with age). Like these other objects of desire, real leather does come with an upmarket price tag (a genuine real Italian leather bag can cost upwards of $250). But then again, it is worth every cent, every dollar you pay for it. So if you are a person of good taste, add to your elegance with a carefully selected real leather bag.
Isn’t it funny that while leathery smells are distinctly male, and men have been using leather belts, shoes and wallets for long, leather bags have been deemed (or doomed, depends how you look at it) to be the ultimate feminine accessory all along!
Things are changing fast though. Men are carrying bags in their hands and on their shoulders with confidence and looking good too. As a matter of fact, leather bags for men are the latest and the hottest trend in male accessories. If you are curling your lips at the thought of yet another confounding metrosexual trait, or are wrinkling your brow at the perplexing question of why men need bags at all, stop right there. Modern men’s bags are masculine, functional and practical, like the very popular messenger bags that are fast replacing staid and boring briefcases that were once the lifesavers for corporate types who used to carry them to look all businesslike, and of course, to hold their documents and paraphernalia.
Well, it is not just women who require their space, men need it too. Actually with laptops, ebook readers, tablets and cell phones in every pair of hands, we have come a long way since the ‘ simple leather wallet will do for my cash, credit card and driving license and my keys can go into my pocket’ days. Why do men need bags all of a sudden?
Now unless a guy can sprout extra pair of hands to carry his laptop/ tablet, he needs a bag. Plus, with tight clothing in vogue, where how can a guy stash his cologne, mouth spray, mints, keys and other must-carry essentials in a trouser pocket or two! He needs a bag for his carrying needs, plain and simple. And if utility is there, can style be far behind? Lo and behold, we see some very smart leather bags in men’s hands or on shoulder now all the time. No, these bags do not look like feminine purses at all. Film stars, rock stars and sports stars like Hugh Jackman, Gerard Butler, Jay Z and David Beckham are photographed carrying bags all the time. And who can put a question mark over their testosterone levels?
Believe it or not, the men’s bags industry is currently worth $957 million and it is rising with each passing year. Yes, the billion dollar mark is not too far away. You do not need an oracle to read the signs. Fashionable men all over the world are buying bags and wearing them too.
Some of the popular leather bag styles for men include the tote, the duffel, the satchel and the messenger bag. A tote is held in hands and many men find it a tad cumbersome and more than a bit feminine. A duffel bag is good for gym and overnight trips but not so suitable for work. Satchels or backpacks are casual and look best on college students and geeks. If it is a great impression you wish to create in your formals and oxfords, and want to feel comfortable as well, a stylish messenger bag is your best bet.
A messenger bag is rectangular in shape. It has a flap in the front and comes with leather shoulder strap that can be worn cross body i.e. across the chest to rest the bag at lower back while leaving your hands free to do other jobs and keep the bag’s content within easy reach. Messenger bags offer plentiful space and multiple pockets to carry your gadgets, documents, textbooks, notebooks, sandwiches (packed, of course) and other odds and ends in segregated compartments. Due to its long leather shoulder strap, a messenger bag is easier to move across the body and is much more comfortable to carry as compared to duffels or totes or satchels. If you are a cyclist or biker, the messenger bag is just the right thing for you to carry along as it leaves your hands free to hold the controls. Actually the messenger bags had originally evolved for ancient era messengers to carry letters and documents in olden days. The wheel has turned full circle and the humble messenger bag is now the urban male fashion icon.
While men’s bags come in all kinds of materials- canvas to synthetic leather to real leather- still, if it is real elegance, longevity and style you are seeking in your men’s bag, opt for a real Italian leather messenger bag. Then choose one in a sober colour like black, brown or tan. Glittery hardware and shiny finishes are strictly to be avoided. Keep it simple is actually the best policy, like all other male accessories. Good leather, great design and fine craftsmanship are the three top attributes to look for in a man’s bag.
RealItalian leather is the crown jewel of leathers. Made from the finest cowhides, it is strong and durable. Then Italians know more than a thing or two aboutmaking the best bags in the world. The styling, craftsmanship and finish of Italian leather products are impeccably elegant. Actually a genuine Italian leather bag is not an expense, it is an investment as with time, top quality leather goes on acquiring finer patina and actually gets classier with passage of time.
If you are a confident man who likes to be comfortable and look stylish (or vice versa), invest in a real Italian leather messenger bag that’s plain, sober and carries no garish hardware. In short, it spells class. Wear it with élan. After all, if Beckham can bend it, so can you.
What Cuba is to cigars and Scotland is to whisky, Italy is to leather. That’s to say that in their category, they are simply and unquestionably, pure and simple, a cut above the rest of the world. A genuine ‘Made in Italy’ leather item means that right from the hide sourcing to tanning and dyeing, and then designing and manufacturing, every single step of the process has occurred in Italy. Such ‘Made in Italy’ leather goods command a hefty premium among the well heeled and style conscious buyers the world over and carry price tags running into hundreds, thousands, even tens of thousands of dollars. What makes these ‘Made in Italy’ leather goods so aspirational that buyers are willing to pay truly hefty premiums for them? Is it all perception, or is there substance behind it too?
We explain the key reasons in this article.
The three factors that make ‘Made in Italy’ leather goods by far the best in the world are their simply superb leather quality, outstanding designs and exquisite craftsmanship. Now let’s take a brief look at all these three factors one by one.
Italian leather is simply the best in the world.
Italy is world’s most exclusive leather destination. Not just high-end leather goods, it is also world leader in leather tanning and manufacturing machinery. As per Assomac, the association of Italian manufacturers of machines for footwear, leather and tannery industries, almost 50% of world’s footwear and leather goods machinery and 80% of tanning machinery is sourced from Italy. These specialized manufacturers focus on quality and technological advancements, and find buyers worldwide. So when a buyer opts for ‘Made in Italy’ leather goods and accessories, the assurance of the finest production process is inherent and implicit. Now let’s move from leather machinery to leather itself.
The real Italian leather or Cuoio italiano, as they call it in Italy, is sourced, tanned, dyed and made into products totally in Italy. Being high-end and super premium, the focus is not on mass production. The focus is totally on quality and exclusivity. Italian leather manufacturers use the best quality natural tanning agents, dyes and finishing techniques to produce the very best leather. As tanning, dyeing and finishing work together to give leather not just durability and longevity, but personality and charm as well, this becomes a key factor in production of best quality leather. Leather companies here are mostly family-owned businesses handed down generations where traditional leather tanning recipes are guarded as zealously as state secrets.The industry may be small and tightly held by a select few but it supplies tanned leather to 120 countries. 20% of world’s leather is produced in Italy. Do remember that combined with Italian leather’s exclusiveness, 20% market share overall is quite fantastic.
Then genuine Italian leather is made from the best cowhides available i.e. hides from well fed, well cared for cows without injuries, scars or disease; and it is full grain i.e. from the thickest section of the cowhide that doesn’t need to be sanded and thus is super durable. Actually full grain leather, like a good wine, gets better with time. Have a genuine Italian leather bag with ‘Made in Italy’ tag? You have invested in a quality product that will never crack, or discolor or peel. On the contrary, it will acquire added sheen as time passes.
Italian design is the classiest you can find
Italian craftsmanship, it is the most exquisite your money can buy.Italian leather may be outstanding but it is still a raw material that needs design and production before it can command top dollars on shop shelves. That’s where Italy’s formidable design reputation gets to work. Fashions made in Italy are huge favourites of those who are willing to spend astronomical sums to join the ‘best dressed and the best accessorized’ lists. As Milan is one of the undisputed fashion capitals of the world and Italian high fashion brands are the among the crème de la crème of haute couture, Italian leather too has absorbed many of attributes associated with them. Attributes such as high quality, high fashion and good taste.
A Fendi handbag, a Prada wallet, a Gucci briefcase, a pair of Ferragamo stilettos, an Armani leather jacket, a Cavalli leather skirt- those who know their brands know that these are the ultimate for the high fashion priests and priestesses. Not just for Italian brands, for most luxury brands and designers worldwide, Italian leather is the best leather to recreate their on-paper designs into products that fetch a hefty premium in the market. And when these fashion houses use Italian leather to give shape to their designer clothes, jackets, bags, shoes, wallets, belts and other products, the result is breathtaking design boosted by exclusive quality that makes them objects of desire. Not just haute couture clothing and accessory labels, luxury furniture brands like Natuzzi and exclusive car companies like Ferrari, Lamborghini and Maserati also use Italian leather for upholstering their products. It is a win-win situation for both, the brand and the raw material. They complement each other’s requirement and enhance their individual glories too. Not surprising then that Made in Italy leather goods and accessories are the byword in exclusiveness and feature high up on the ‘must own’ list of high net worth individuals.
Top quality raw material and superb design require one more input – exquisite craftsmanship – to wow the end user. That’s the third field where the ‘Made in Italy’ tag carries much weight. Italy’s reputation as world’s fashion hub is not new. Instead it has been gained over centuries of supplying premium handmade articles to other nations. Italian leather craftsmen (and craftswomen) used to create bespoke leather goods and accessories for royalty and aristocracy worldwide. That illustrious heritage still lives on in the near-perfect craftsmanship that employs modern technology at many steps but ensures that each and every cut, stitch and accesorization is precision redefined.
Italian leather is an outstanding confluence of best leather, best design and best workmanship. Unsurprising then that it is much sought after by those who wish to buy the very best and are willing to pay a premium for it.
Kate Middleton, Victoria ‘Posh’ Beckham, Miranda Kerr, Salma Hayek, Angelina Jolie, Cate Blanchett, Nicole Kidman ….every style diva worth her name and fame makes headlines not just for the outfit she wears but also for the handbag that she carries with it. Check any style blogs or glossies and see how much space is devoted to outfit-handbag pairings of the rich and the famous!
It is a no-brainer style secret that clothes and bags work together in creating that ‘it’ look. However great your outfit or other accessories, the perfect finishing touch comes from a good bag. So, to up your style quotient to the next level, you need to choose your bag with due care to go with your outfit.
Here are some great tips on how to get it right.
What occasion are you dressed for?
Office, shopping, casual, dressy, formal, semi, informal, gala, red carpet- what you wear and which bag you carry with it depends first and foremost on the occasion. Generally speaking, large bags give a relaxing aura, small bags add sophistication. That’s the reason, large bags go with casuals and small bags go with formals.
The first rule to remember is that a stiff bag and casual outfit, or a casual bag and a formal outfit do not work together. So lay off that combination and go by these suggestions:
Going shopping wearing shorts, tee and sneakers? Carry an over sized hobo or duffel bag to add casual chic.
Wearing skinny jeans with tunic or blazer? Carry a hobo or a tote bag for semi-formal elegance.
Wearing summer dress and sandals? Try a simple sling bag over your shoulder to look cuter.
Going to office in a tailored trouser suit, carry a roomy tote or a structured boxy bag or a satchel to look all business (office bags should have enough space for all the odds and ends plus your laptop/ notebook). Satchels also look good with high waist trousers worn with gauzy tops and skirt and cardigan combos.
If want to appear a power dresser with a lean and mean board room presence, stay away from hobos, duffels and slouchy bags. Try a top handle tote or a briefcase bag to add a touch of formal sophistication to your look.
If attending a dressy and formal event wearing a long gown or a cocktail dress or an LBD, carry a glamorous minaudiere or a seductive clutch. A plain sophisticated sheath dress will go well with a sequined or metallic envelope clutch. A dress with much embellishment or heavy detailing will look good with a plain clutch.
What’s your body shape?
Like you clothes, your bag too should help in upping your positives and taking the eye away from the unseemly bits. In other words, your bag’s shape and length should counterbalance your curves. Here are some tips for the uninitiated.
A pear shaped body will look heavier in hip length bags. Try waist length to draw eyes to your slimmer region.
Big busted women should avoid saddle bags as these will draw all eyes to your cleavage. And that my dear, is certainly not classy.
Petite women should avoid satchels and anything with long hanging straps. Plus sized ladies should carry medium sized bags.
If your body shape is short and curvy, carry long, slim bags to appear taller and slimmer. Avoid low hanging bags as they make you appear shorter.
On the other hand, if you are tall and thin, long and slim bags will not work for you. Try a rounded, oversized bag and roll up your sleeves or go sleeveless to reveal your slim and toned arms. Wear a few slim bangles to add that fab touch of contrast.
How matching should your outfit and bag be?
Too much matching between clothes and bag is quite injurious to your style quotient! The real trick lies in getting it right without looking like a monotone, monochrome mannequin. Here are some clues to getting it just right.
If you are wearing a monochrome or colour blocked ensemble, try a patterned, printed or textured bag to catch the eye.
A multi-coloured outfit requires a neutral monotone bag to offset all those colours. Try an all-time classic black or beige leather bag. For a flirty touch, tie a slim scarf in outfit’s colours to the plain bag.
If wearing a printed outfit, either play safe and go with a monochromatic bag that picks just one colour from the print to highlight it. Or if you have it in you, carry a printed bag with a printed dress by co-coordinating the colours. Remember that this is tough territory to tread. You need really high fashion sense to get this quirk right.
Go classic (and play safe) by matching your bag and shoes. If adventurous, keep either the bag or the shoes neutral and amp up the other for a glam look.
There is one unbreakable rule of the outfit/ bag duo matching though. The hardware i.e. the metallic detailing, if any, should match. You can’t have golden hardware on your bag and silver buckles on your shoes. Or bronze details on cardigan and copper studs on your bag. Or a rose gold necklace in your neck along with a silver metallic strap for your bag on your shoulder. These are total fashion faux pas; commit them at your own risk.
What’s the overall look you are aiming for?
Bags say much with their own style quotient. If you are using your outfit to make a style statement, let your bag add its own subtle chic message of resonance. Here’s how it works.
Leather clutches are classic. Crystal studded clutches are glamorous. Hobos are playful. Studded bags are edgy. Satchels and totes are practical. Cross body bags are casual.
Decide the look you want. And carry the bag that echoes it.
Leather lovers have it in the bag.
There is good news for leather bag lovers. Leather is versatile and goes with most dress fabrics. Soft leather bags suit breezy summer styles better and heavy structured leather bags add gravitas to winter chic.
So now you know how the divas get their bags and outfits so right. Go on, it’s your turn now to let your outfit and bag make a style statement for you.