caring for your vegetable tanned leather goods
Here at simétrie, we design by the ethos that a beautifully crafted bag should last for a lifetime. With this in mind, we take steps during the design process to ensure the quality and longevity of all our products.
These steps include working with premium and hard-wearing vegetable tanned leather, and reinforcing the areas where straps are attached to the bag to ensure there’s no unnecessary wear and tear over your product’s lifetime.
However, the lifespan of your new purchase also depends on how you care for it. Vegetable tanned leather is a beautiful and unique material, but it does require some simple upkeep. To help you maintain your new piece, we’ve popped together a handy leather care guide. With the right TLC, simétrie designs will only get better with age.
1. Here’s what you should do before you use your new bag
We know how tempting it can be to whip out your new bag and use it straight away. However, there are a few things to keep in mind before you do so. Vegetable-tanned leather darkens and develops a patina over time with exposure to natural elements. This will happen whether you use a protectant or not, but a protectant will slow the process, and also help the overall leather to be more uniform and stain-resistant. Our leather already has a slight wax coating, but the best thing to do when you receive your bag is to treat it with a leather balm (also known as a leather dressing).
We recommend Joseph Lyddy Jay-El Beeswax Leather Dressing, but any beeswax balm will do the trick – just make sure it contains no synthetic paraffin. Test the balm you are going to use on a part of the bag that’s less conspicuous – just in case it has an effect you’re not happy with. Some synthetic products will leave white marks, and some oil-based products might leave oil marks – this is why we recommend a balm. Be mindful that any leather protectant will likely darken the leather slightly and this is normal for vegetable-tanned leather. Apply the balm using a clean dry cloth from seam to seam, and smooth it into the leather’s surface. Then leave it to dry naturally and out of the sun. Depending on how often you use your bag, a balm should be applied two to four times per year to keep it moisturised and protected.
2. For ongoing care and general upkeep follow these steps
For general cleaning and upkeep, the above leather balm process should be enough to buff out any light marks and scratches. If your piece needs a proper and more thorough clean, we suggest using saddle soap – we use Joseph Lyddy Saddle Soap on our pieces. Saddle soap is a glycerin-based soap and it’s made for use on vegetable tanned leather. It cleans, conditions and also slightly protects leather. Firstly, lather a damp sponge or cloth with saddle soap and lightly rub in circular motions over the leather. Be sure not to wet the surface of your bag too much, or lather excessively. Once the bag is fully lathered, use a clean damp cloth to wipe away excess soap on the bag. Continue this process until all the soap is removed. Finally, lightly rub with a dry cloth and wait until the bag is fully dried. Reapply the leather balm to re-condition and protect the leather after cleaning.
3. Here are our tips for cleaning little spills and stains
Little spills and stains are part of life. If some of your dinner or morning coffee ends up on your favourite new bag, don’t panic. We recommend trying to use the saddle soap cleaning method to help lift the stain, and attempting this multiple times for stubborn stains. Alternatively – and for stronger and darker stains – get in touch with us to see if we can assist. If we think we can help, you can send your bag into our atelier and we’ll use our products to try to lift the stain or dye the overall leather to a darken tone so that the stain is more or less invisible.
But… please avoid doing these things at all costs
If you follow the above steps, you and your new simétrie are set to be companions for life. Here are a few things to avoid at all costs – no matter how tempting it is to try different methods of cleaning. Firstly, don’t use any harsh chemicals to clean, or brushes with stiff bristles that could scratch the leather. Detergents and other harsh soaps should be avoided as these will strip the natural oils and dry the leather out. Lastly, always let any protectant dry naturally, away from direct sunlight, and never blow-dry your bag as this could cause further staining.
Finally, it’s super important to remember that leather is an organic material. It will soften, get darker, develop unique characteristics, and become more beautiful over time. Embrace these changes as they only add character and personality to your leather pieces.