Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Bag of Tricks: How To Pamper Your Favorite Accessory

NOTE: This write-up is published under the Beauty & Fashion section of POC.net. Read it here

It may be true that not all bags are created equal, but they all need attention to maximize their function and aesthetic appeal. Just like how we lavish our skin with cleansers, moisturizers and toners, our beloved bags deserve the same amount of preventive care. So how exactly do we keep them stain-free and damage-free? For a total burara like myself, I seriously need to know how. 


For hair and makeup artist/bag collector Carla Excella, she keeps her designer bags inside their respective dust bags when not in use. This will prevent each prized item from gathering dust and getting scratched by family members or pets. She also ensures she has silica gel pouch inside her bag closet for moisture absorption. She warns that moisture leads to growth of molds that will mar the design and lower its value.

When accidental bag collector/blogger Rome Espinosa suddenly became a temporary owner of this pre-owned Louis Vitton leather bag, he kept it inside a sealed plastic bag. It may not be stored in the dust bag it was originally from, but it remains in good condition after 3 months. 

To retain the bag's shape, training manager Mia Yrreverre Abendan finds it imperative to fill the entire bag with crumpled paper before placing it inside a cotton or satin drawstring bag for storage. According to her, no bag - branded or otherwise - deserves to be folded.

Some bags, particularly the straps or handles, are made of vanchetta (untreated leather). It tends to darken or discolor due to exposure to weather, sunlight and oil from skin. While the latter is unavoidable, it is recommended not to hold the bags after applying beauty products particulatly hand creams and sunscreen lotion.

For bags with chain handles, keep the chain inside the bag to prevent friction with the outside leather that will lead to scratches.

Just hook it!

There's no telling what harmful chemicals are present in the places we frequent to. Hence, it is advisable to refrain from leaving your bags on the floor. While in a restaurant or salon, for example, it's a no-no to hang your bags at the back of your chair due to security risks.

Thanks to this not-so-recent invention called bag hooks, we can hang our bags at the edge of a table without worrying about its exposure to bacteria and stains. For some brands, the hook can carry as much as 34 pounds! Good news for women who love 'em big!

Carla finds this device useful only for tougher leathers but never for lamb skin leather bags. Since it is made of softer material, it may end up being detached. Project Manager Kristina Rita, however, would rather ask for an extra seat for her bag than take the risk.

Bag hook in action!


While some bags can get away with the wash-and-wear or faded look, designer ones come with cleaning instructions. 

Mia applies leather conditioner on her beloved bags every other week using pranela. Some cleaners/conditioners come with a cloth, but if there's none, she makes sure to use the softest cloth especially for soft leather.

Trisha Cruz-Cuason of Vintage Restore says bag owners should be mindful of the amount of cleaners and conditioners applied. Too much cleaner can discolor the leather, while too much conditioner can alter its softness and texture. She advises conditioners should only be used when the need arises or when the sheen of the leather starts to wane.

It is also important to determine the leather type before looking for cleaners to use. There is a particular cleaner for shiny leather, matte leather, suede leather and patent leather. 

If you are into hand-woven bags just like me, never use wet cloth for cleaning. For rattan bags, apply a small amount of premium antique wax or simply any floor wax and use a soft brush (for shoe cleaning) after 10 minutes. According to sculptor/painter Clinton Anniversario, polishing it once a month will help it preserve the color and shine. 

Rattan bags
Photo from Clinton Anniversario

To preserve hand-woven bags made of sodsod leaves that are endemic in Bukidnon (remember this entry?), bookkeeper Lorie Rago-Marte uses clean, dry cloth to wipe off dirt and stains when necessary. Using wet cloth will damage the color and texture of the bags. During our interview, she mentioned Bukidnon Arts & Crafts will be working on waterproof bags in the near future. 

Sodsod bags
Photo from Lorie

Professional Help

How to tell if your bag's damage were beyond your own powers? According to Vintage Restore, you could save your bag and save costs at the same time for seeking professional help for cases wherein the leather is extremely cracked and discolored, the bag stains your hands when you fish for something inside, when the zipper and other metal parts had gone rusty, when the fabric is extremely untidy, when there are jean stains and other sort of stains on the leather, when the leather got twisted out of shape due to extreme humidity, detached and unstitched parts, among others.

See how Vintage Restore saved a deformed Hermes bag
Photo lifted from Vintage Restore's fanpage

Mia admits that she never attempts to wash bags with special fabric (like Fendi) herself. Her friend once committed the mistake of having her Coach bag's zipper taken care of in a more accessible shop, but it ended up being further damaged. It may be expensive to bring her designer bags to a bag doctor for cleaning and restoration, but Mia is truly convinced it's all worth it.

Here's a little roundup of bag restoration shops in the metro:

1. Bag Rx
2. Besa's

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