How Leather Ages

Good-quality leather changes over time. It shapes itself around your habits, and acquires character the more you do with it. Our products are made from a range of superb leathers, including vegetable-tanned shoulders, hides with a surface finish to protect them, and others with oil impregnated during tanning to create a soft, waxy feel.

With a little looking after, your Bill Amberg products will develop a beautiful patina and story with age. Here are a few tips on caring for them.

 

Water protection

Some of the leathers we use undergo a spot treatment to make them water resistant, so everyday splashes, spills and showers won’t be a problem. However, if the material becomes soaked for any reason, be sure not to dry it artificially, as this will damage the leather’s chemical structure and lead to shrinkage and hardening. Allow leather to dry at room temperature, slowly and naturally, and it should return to its former glory.

 

Feeding

When people are out in the sun too long, their skin needs moisturising to stop it drying and cracking. Leather is the same. If your product starts to feel dry and brittle, it will need feeding to reintroduce moisture to its fibres. Two or three light applications of a neutral leather cream to the surface of the material should do the trick. If your leather is already soft and malleable, don’t bother – overfeeding can cause it to soften, sag and lose shape.

 

Bloom

If you store your leather for any length of time, whether in a cupboard or plastic bag, you might notice a faint, white powdery coating has appeared on its surface. Refrain from panic; ‘bloom’ like this is an entirely normal sign of a good-quality, oil-dressed skin and is nothing a dry polish won’t fix. Rub the surface gently with a soft cloth or a clean new shoe brush and the bloom should be reabsorbed back into the skin.

 

Cleaning

If your leather gets dirty, wipe it lightly with a dry cloth. If that doesn’t do the trick, a slightly damp cloth should get rid of most dirt. Failing this (and if the leather is filthy), you can apply a dab of very mild hand soap on a soft cloth. Anything stronger, such as saddle soap or a vigorous cleaning agent, will dry out the surface and damage the material. If you’re at all concerned, please get in touch with us and we’ll be happy to recommend a product that will leave your leather looking beautiful.

 

Buffing

A polish now and then will help keep your leather lustrous. Use a soft cloth and buff the surface very gently to maintain its sheen and remove any ‘bloom’. Be careful not to be too vigorous; leather doesn’t react well to excessive heat or friction.

 

Ageing

One of the most wonderful things about leather is what happens as it ages. Vegetable-tanned leathers, like those we use to make many of our bags, will develop a patina over time. A soft lustre will appear in places that are most frequently handled and parts of the surface may darken in colour as natural oils are absorbed into the surface. Bags may grow accustomed to the shape of the things you carry in them and straps will become more comfortable in the positions you wear them most often. In this way, the leather starts to show the story of its life and its owner on its surface.

 

Colour transfer

Although we try to ensure that the materials we use aren’t susceptible to colour rub, it’s possible that some colour transfer may occur when the leather brushes against pale or abrasive clothing. This is the result of disturbing the wax on the surface of the leather, rather than a permanent dye stain, and is usually easily removable in a normal wash.