I thought I would share some wisdom with you from back in the days that I rode horses and cleaned tack (saddlery) weekly. Horse tack is 95% real leather which meant that constant cleaning and oiling was necessary to keep is supple and strong. Dry leather is weak and brittle, just like our skin when it gets dry.
As a lesson in sustainability, taking care of your leather ensures that you’re going to get the most out of your product (shoes, belts, bags, wallets etc). You can avoid nasty VOCs and CO2 emissions that come with cheap petroleum based pleathers if you go for real leather as well.
If you’re like me, you love second-hand leather as it is already broken in and is supple from use while avoiding some of the guilt associated with leather production. Some of my vegan friends and followers will disagree with me here, but I prefer leather to pleather simply because of its longevity. If taken care of properly, real leather will easily out live a faux leather bag. If I am looking for something more on trend, I’ll buy new vegan products like my Eba Tote, but if I want a classic leather piece I usually go used.
Real leather is easy to restore with just a few easy steps. After shopping today I looked in the mirror to see that my favorite Adrian Kliss buffalo leather purse was looking a little tired. This little bag gets a lot of use and was scratched and grubby feeling.
So to start with I emptied it of all my cards and whatnot and then used just a damp cotton rag to wipe any surface dirt away. You could also use leather cleaner or saddle soap if your item is quite dirty like a pair of shoes may be. Second I got out my favorite mink oil which I use on both my leather purses and my leather boots. The container says it’s good for vinyl and pleather as well, but I’ve never tried it. If you’ve never oiled a piece before always try a test patch before to check if it will change the colour of your item. Most of the time it just brings a richness out.
Using an old sock I scooped some of the oil out and rubbed it into the leather in small circles, working it into the edge and seams.
The key is to apply more than you think you should. The leather will soak up as much as it needs, so apply liberally and wait 5-10 minutes for it to soak. Don’t forget the inside of the pockets if yours is unlined in some places.
Next I used a clean lint free cloth rag again to buff the bag removing any excess oil and to work it in one last time.
Tada! Doesn’t it look great? The oil naturally covers and heals over the scratches in the leather and darkens it to its original color (leather dries out it lightens significantly.) I will let it keep absorbing it’s oils for another hour before I put my things back into it just for good measure.
My bag is now ready for another punishing round as my sidekick. Although fashion styles come in and out regularly, I think investing in some signature pieces like this means you can hold on to them for more than just a few seasons, storing them away for future use when the inevitable “old is new again”.
Have a Great Week!