Protect and condition: these are the two main things you need to know when it comes to leather shoes and bags.
Just like our own skin, leather contains oils and fats that keep it supple. If these oils dry out, the surface of the leather will begin to crack.
Leather’s worst enemy is water, followed by heat, so preventative measures to make sure that leather doesn’t get wet is a must. There are a number of water and stain repellent products on the market, and treating your goods before using them is a great first step. Bear in mind that this won’t make them 100% waterproof - so try not to use your leather goods in wet conditions.
Handmade by artisan leather craftsmen in Devon, this Baja Travel Bag by Tanner Bates is made from full grain oak bark leather.
Leather, in general, is quite porous, and it will lose moisture through evaporation, particularly if exposed to a lot of sunlight or hot, dry conditions. Expert Devon leatherworkers Tanner Bates recommend using a hide food about twice a year. This is a blend of pH balanced natural waxes and oils, perfect for feeding Oak Bark and other naturally tanned leathers.
Products like this moisturise and feed the leather, prolonging its life and restoring suppleness. Rub a dose into the outside (the grain side) of the leather and leave overnight. Any surplus not absorbed by the next day can be wiped off with a lint free cloth, and brushed with a soft clean shoe brush.
Cream polishes are another great way to bring out the shine, add a bit of colour to faded leather and also help moisturise the leather. Just make sure you choose a matching polish for the leather, and buff with a clean, soft cloth afterwards to give it that extra shine and take off excess polish.
But what should you do if you unexpectedly get caught up in the rain or accidentally knock a glass of water onto your leather bag? The first thing to do is to soak up the excess moisture with an absorbent towel or cloth and allow for it to air dry.
Resist the urge to use a hair dryer or radiator, or expose it to direct sunlight. Heat warps the leather and dries it out, and could result in unsightly cracks.
Leather goods need to breathe, so it is essential not to use plastic containers to store your shoes and bags, as this will cause mould to grow. For bags, use dust bags or even cotton pillowcases, and include a couple of silica gel packets to absorb the moisture.
There are many great videos on suede and leather care, and this is one of them.
And last but not least, invest in a good neighbourhood cobbler to repair your shoes and bags. Not only can they buffer and polish your goods to the shiniest standard, but they also have a few tricks up their sleeves such as mending a leather tear and other services such as shoe stretching or colour re-dyeing.
This comprehensive Tanner Bates leather care kit contains everything you need to ensure longevity and suppleness in your natural leather.
If you've invested in leather goods, consider purchasing a leather care kit so you have everything you need to keep your items in beautiful condition for longer. Our kit contains:
- Tanner Bates Hide Food made in Walsall using Sedgwick's Tannery oils
- Tanner Bates Liquid Wax made in the East Midlands
- Applicator Cloth produced in Plymouth
- English Horsehair Polishing Brush made in Walsall
- Leather Care Leaflet detailing everything you need to know to look after quality leather products