As someone who has been working with handbags for almost half my life, I’ve had the pleasure of learning a lot about leather care. Recently I have been applying this knowledge towards restoring my own bags. I’ve always wanted a Bottega Hobo bag, and I happened to find one at the right price in an amazing color that I couldn’t resist. Though it looked a little rough initially, upon further inspection I deemed it salvageable. Here was my process:
Step 1: Moisturization
I started off with a soft old rag and a couple of pumps of Collonil Leather Gel. I put about a quarter sized amount onto the rag, then dabbed the rag onto itself to make sure the moisturizer wasn’t concentrated in one area. Since the bag is lambskin it’s more prone to stains, so I made sure to spot test a discreet area before applying the gel to the whole bag. I was also sure to make the gel as thin and even on the rag as I could to prevent any kind of staining. I moisturized the bag by moving the rag in a soft circular motion, being sure to not press too hard, as I would not want to cake in any dirt. Collonil is my favorite moisturizer, richer and less watery than Apple Guard, I find that I have more control when applying. I also find it very nourishing and the effects longer lasting than others I have tried in the past. Moisturizing keeps the bag’s color rich, the leather supple, and prevents dry rot further down the line.
Before & After
Step 2: Spot Removal
After allowing the moisturizer to dry, I got together the supplies I needed to remove some dark spots I found on the bag. A small bowl of rubbing alcohol and a few q-tips to lightly rub the surface of the stain. I let the alcohol on the Q-tip dry a little before applying, and did so gently as to not wipe off too much of the bag’s dye. To me this is the most nerve wracking part of the process, as it is very easy to mess up. I do not recommend you try this at home without lots of practice. Though I was able to get the small stains out and greatly improved the appearance of the large stain, it didn’t come out completely, as I didn’t want to remove too much dye. I’m confident with use and exposure the stain will continue to fade.
Before & After
Step 3: Clean the Liner
The inside of this bag was in decent shape for being a beige colored suede. It only had a single pen mark, some light orange splotches, and what appeared to be the remnants of spilled makeup at the bottom. I began to clean the lining with the Collonil gel, in a similar fashion to step one. That got rid of most of the stains, including the pen mark to my surprise. Then I took the wired side of my suede brush and began to gently brush in the direction of the grain. This loosens and brushes off dirt and re-fluffs the suede. If done from time to time it will prevent suede matting and extend the life of your bag.
Before & After
Step 4: Wear It
I enjoy this bag knowing where it came from and what I’ve done for it. There is something very rewarding about carrying a bag you know you made better. Restoring bags is something very personal to me, and watching the progress is extremely satisfying. All bags deserve love, and with all of my experience I am fortunate enough to have reached a skill level where I can confidently gauge the situation and act upon it accordingly myself. If you do attempt to try this at home be sure to practice plenty. When I first started I would even buy bags at a thrift store to practice on until I was comfortable enough to work on my own. If you have any questions feel free to comment, we are always happy to help!