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15 Things to Know About Keeping Your Designer Handbags Looking Good for Years

hermes birkin

Photo: Getty

After you purchase a handbag, it may be tempting to rip open the box, trash the tissue paper and lose the receipt, but it is important to keep all of these items together if you want the best resell value. Collectors can overlook rare and collectible handbags with substantial condition issues and missing items, making it difficult to sell your beloved bag once the time is right. However, it is relatively simple to keep your handbags looking good for many years.

1. Exotics and the rain don’t mix!

A simple but very important rule: no exotics in the rain! Rain damage is one of the most detrimental condition issues for any handbag. Although exotics may appear durable, they are particularly susceptible to water damage. The innocuous shower turns serious when your crocodile is rain-speckled. More often than not, this damage is permanent. Ensure that when the weather report calls for rain, your exotics are safe at home. If you must tote your tote, utilize the ‘raincoat’ that accompanies your Birkin or Kelly

2. Suede

Suede is particularly delicate and very susceptible to fading due to sunlight. It should not come in contact with water or oil of any kind. Purchase a suede brush for your suede items, or use a soft toothbrush. A paper towel or a white eraser are good ways to get small marks out of suede.

3. Patent leather

Patent leather is more durable than a traditional leather but is plagued with the problem of color transfer! Do not let patent leather rest against another surface — always keep the item in a dustbag or a pillowcase, otherwise the colors of the bag and surrounding items will bleed onto each other, and it is basically impossible to get it off. Petroleum jelly or rubbing alcohol can sometimes help, but not always.

4. Colored leather

Brightly colored bags can fade in direct sunlight—store them in a dark closet. Also, when cleaning the items, some of the dye can be removed. Be extra careful when rubbing the bag with a baby wipe or a damp paper towel.

5. Embellishments

Embellishments can catch on surrounding items. Wrap any crystals, dangly pieces, or key chains in a bit of tissue paper when storing a bag.

6. Pens and lipstick are your bag’s sworn enemies

The condition of a handbag’s interior is just as important as its exterior. One rule of thumb to follow for your most precious pieces: no loose pens or lipstick. Even light pen marks can reduce a bag’s resale value. Be smart and invest in an insert organizer.

7. Clean

After using your handbag, the first step is to empty it of its contents and dust. You can turn the bag inside out if it is soft and use a lint roller to get to those hard-to-reach places. If your bag is crafted from hard-pressed, grained leather, wipe the exterior of the bag softly with a damp paper towel or an alcohol-free baby wipe. If it is made from natural or untreated leather, or if it is exotic or suede, then dust it with a dry paper towel. For more serious issues, take it to a professional.

8. Don’t forget to moisturize

With regular visits to a handbag ’spa’, a piece’s lifespan and resale value can be ensured and extended. In particular, moisturizing leather will protect against cracks and permanent damage. Treat your handbags as you would any other asset — with regular and attentive care.

9. Stuff

Now that your bag is empty and clean, you must stuff it in order for it to keep its shape. I suggest using acid-free tissue paper, a small pillow, or bubble wrap. Be sure to wrap exposed hardware (including buckles and zipper pulls) with a piece of tissue paper to keep it from making imprints on your bag over time.

10. Cover

Place your bag in a soft, breathable dust bag. If you don’t have one, you can use a cotton pillowcase in a neutral color, in order to prevent color transfer. Make sure that the dust bag is large enough so that your handbag doesn’t warp when it is stored.

11. Separate

Do not have the hardware of one bag touching another bag, because it could leave a mark. In addition, do not leave anything touching patent leather — it will cause color to transfer from the patent leather to whatever is next to it.

12. Store

If you have it, store your bag in its original box. Otherwise, line your bags up on a shelf in your closet. If the shelf is not tall enough, do not allow the handles of the bag to be pressed down — in this event, the bag should lie flat. You can keep track of your bags by including a note with the name of the bag on the box or dustbag, so that you don’t have to rifle through ten boxes before you find your favorite Kelly.

13. Handle with care

Refrain from hanging your bags — this will distort the shape of the handles.

Do not put your bag on the floor when you are out and watch the corners as you walk around with it. Corners are the first place that a bag shows wear!

For Birkin and Kelly bags, do not keep the lock on the bag for too long, as it can scuff and create a dark mark on the leather.

14. Operate a rotation system

Making use of each piece in your collection as much as possible will ensure a longer life for all the bags you collect.

15. Ensure a holistic and complete collection

Be sure to invest in a mixture of timeless and on-trend pieces: a utilitarian tote for the office, for example, and a delicate clutch for evening.

A total of 20 coveted handbags will be showcased by Christie’s Dubai from the upcoming London auction of Handbags and Accessories on November 19. To view the handbags, visit Christie’s Dubai – DIFC/Gate Village, Building 5, Podium Level from October 13-17, 10am-6pm.

Read Next: 20 Rare and Unique Handbags are Being Showcased in Dubai Ahead of their Auction

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