Natural Wear, Ageing and Patina
All products made from natural leathers, like satchels, will age with time. Just like our own skin, it will need moisturising and caring for if they’re to be kept in tip-top condition throughout the years. Even with excellent care, they will still age; there’s no avoiding this; a well looked after and aged satchel is just beautiful as a new one, if not even more so.
This ageing effect is called the bags ‘Patina’, it’s a very cherished and admired effect and the effect is almost impossible to replicate properly without submitting it to the natural wear and tear that leather bags go through from everyday use. People can try to artificial age their satchels to make them look older and more battered than they actually are, but nothing looks better than the Patina of a bag that has been well cared for over the years! The ageing process adds character to a satchel and gives it a life-story of it’s very own, every mark, scratch and crack tells a tale.
All leather looses moisture and oils over time and with handling. As a hide dries out it’s more likely that the fibres that make up the surface of the skin will break rather than stretch. Every animal hide is unique and some will have less natural oils than others. The more we handle a product made from leather the quicker it will lose it’s natural flexibility due to it’s oils and moisture being transferred to our hands, etc.
To keep any satchel in tip top condition, then we need to ensure the leather fibres stay supple and to accomplish this they will require natural oils or regular moisturising. It’s always best to regularly use a leather care product to replace those oils and keep the leather supple. We recommended that you use one that is designed specifically for caring for satchels, such as “Satchel Hero” but any leather care product is usually better than nothing. Mink Oil or Neatsfoot Oil are also considered to be good natural leather care products. Also please note that you should never use a product that contains Lanolin – so be careful using baby wipes to clean your satchel as they can often contain it.
Polishing and Scratches
Scratches cannot be prevented, so if you don’t like the antique effect that scratches will give to your satchel then it’s advised that you keep it away from sharp or metallic objects and generally give it careful consideration when handling and placing it down on the ground, etc.
Another way to protect your satchel is to apply a boot polish, Vaseline or saddle soap. This will coat the leather with a protective finish that will make it more durable. Please note that applying ANY from of polish, even a clear or natural colour, will almost always change the colour of your leather. So test a small area of leather first (such as the tag/key-ring we supply with your bag) and then check your happy with the final colour before applying to the remainder of the bag.
Endeavour to apply polish at least every couple of weeks, if not more often as you would with a fine pair of leather shoes. We believe that using a traditional polish in combination with our premium leathers will develop one of the finest patinas over time.
Dirt and Dust
If there’s small dirt marks on the finished side of the leather then usually a little warm water and a little elbow grease will do the trick of getting rid of them.
There is also a specially designed product for cleaning satchels called “Satchel Knight” that contains a solution of natural oils that prove to be very effective at removing dirt marks and stains from satchel leathers.
The key to removing dirt and other such marks is not to use too much pressure, it’s much better to lightly rub a mark 100 times with low pressure than 10 times with a lot of pressure. The high pressure maybe likely to remove the finish and damage the leather.
Rain and Water Splashes
Leather satchels should not be allowed to get wet but if they do, they should be wiped with a dry cloth and allowed to dry naturally.
If your satchel gets wet then never force-dry the leather by using heat. Do not place on radiators or use hair dryers, simply leave it in a place that is normal room temperature until it dries naturally.
If you are going to continuously experience bad weather then we would suggest that you obtain some leather water-proofing products to help keep your satchel dry.
Keep your leather bags stored in places that are dry and clean when your not using them, ideally in the specially designed dust bag that came with your bag to help protect it.
Keep it out of hot temperatures, especially extreme heat. Heat exposure can cause the pigmented finish to bubble and to peel away.
Freezing temperatures can really damage your satchel and the natural structure of it’s fibres, that give it strength, and make them brittle. Cold temperatures can also cause the pigmented coating to crack excessively, so if you don’t like that effect then it’s prudent not to let it get too cold.
Try to keep leather out of direct sunlight for long periods, because this can fade your leather, although we have tested our leather in direct sunlight for periods of 6-months and have only seen very slight fading, but it’s best to be safe than sorry.
Applying Care Products
Always test a small, unseen part of the satchel before applying the product to the whole of the bag. This is to check that the product doesn’t react or even change the colour significantly to a colour that you dislike. Leave it for a day or so to verify there’s no unwanted reaction.
If after a period of 24-hours, the small area appears good then you can safely apply the product to the whole of the bag.
If you’re applying a care product that contains a moisturiser or oil then pay particular attention to the reverse sides of the leather and the edges where the pigmented finish isn’t applied as the leather will be more absorbent there and the leather will get lots of nourishment and protection from treatment in those areas and remain more supple.
If your applying a water proofing product then it’s strongly recommended that you first apply a care product to help lock in moisture and to keep the fibres of the skin supple before making it waterproof. Only apply the waterproof to areas that will be exposed to moisture. This will result in you still being able to treat the inner of the bag with care products so it can remain supple and wont crease, crack or peel, due to drying out.
Natural Leather Markings
All the leather that we select for our bags is a by-product of the farming industry. They will be typically be dairy cows that have aged but sometimes larger buffalo and other farmed animals may be used, but we’ll clearly state which animal the leather is from. Typically these dairy animals will gather natural marks on their skin as they are significantly older than animals used purely for meat production.
Typical marks could include:-
- Stretch Marks; Especially on the hind of the cow as it grows larger.
- Tick Holes; These are small holes where an insect has pierced the skin to draw blood.
- Scarring; If the animals has been cut or had an operation then it may have scars and stitch marks.
- Veining; Larger animals will show veins close to the surface of the skin.
- Flay Marks; These are where the fatty tissue is removed from the underside of the leather with a flaying knife and the flaying knife has left a small scar.
When leather is prepared it either has the very top layer of the skin sanded (like in our premium leathers), or ‘split off’ (like in our classic range) to remove almost all signs of these natural marks.
Once tanned most of the remaining marks become almost unnoticeable but never completely disappear. They generally do not affect whether a hide is suitable or not. In fact scarring can actually make a hide even stronger, just not what most people would consider beautiful.
We check all our leather for natural marks and endeavour to cut our pattern pieces from areas of the hide that are not marked, but sometimes we may deem a natural mark to be ‘acceptable’ (especially if it’s on the underside of the hide.)
Natural leather marks cannot be treated in any way to make them appear less visible, and if you have received a bag with natural marks that you personally think is not acceptable, such as an excessively deep flay mark, then we are happy to discuss the issue with you.