The craftsmanship of a leather bag
Handcrafted Leather Bags
For some people, shopping for a leather bag can be bewildering. The market is drenched with cheap fake leathers, low-quality craftsmanship, and hardware that breaks down after just a season or two. To separate the well-made from the overpriced bric-a-brac, we'll point out a few things to remember when making your next purchase. Few people in America know what it takes to make a well-made leather bag. If there is any question as to whether a bag is made from real leather or fake leather, don't purchase it. Quality leather is a natural product, and nothing manmade will ever have the same level of quality or endurance.
Two factors ultimately determine the quality of a piece of leather, typically graded on the cleanliness of the hide, and the overall health conditions of the animal's skin. Tanning is the process of treating the skins of animals to produce leather, making it more durable and less susceptible to decomposition. Tanning can be performed with either vegetable or mineral methods. Before tanning, the skins are unhaired, degreased, desalted, and soaked in water over a period of 6 hours to 2 days. Coloring may also occur during the tanning process.
Ultimately, quality leather should have a soft, supple touch that is naturally appealing and inviting. It should not resemble vinyl or any synthetic material. Avoid anything plastic or rubbery, because these "leather bags" will not have the same strength or aging benefits. Bag linings should be made from durable material and should feel like they will perform over a long period of time. Anything flimsy or cheap on the inside reflects the overall craftsmanship and expected lifespan. Think long-term and remember that you're probably going to be hard on it.
For a bag to last, it's important to apply a conditioner to keep the leather from drying out. Never put a bag that has become wet in a dark place to dry. Mold can become an issue and cause weakness. Allow leather goods to air dry before putting them away. A conditioner applied on a regular basis will nourish the leather and keep the stitch areas from drying out. Before you lather it up with a new conditioner, though, it's always a good idea to test a little on a small hidden spot where there is no danger of damaging or discoloring the well-crafted bag.
When putting products in direct sunlight for long periods of time you risk drying out the leather or having the color fade. Do not put leather bags in a tightly sealed, plastic bag, storage should be well ventilated. Try not to place leather bags on wet floors, or scrape them across rough surfaces. Always pick up a bag using both handles (unless it only has one). Make sure when traveling that any containers that have liquid inside are in a second container to avoid spilling into the bag.
Be a gentleman, if you respect a quality purchase like handmade leather, you will most likely be rewarded with many years of enjoyment.