Pampering your leather

IT may sound obvious that the number one rule of leather-care is… to take care of your leather. But when you think about the amount of wear and tear that happens when you haul your holdall through customs, scrape your bag through tube doors, drop your wallet in puddles, you start thinking that maybe this wisdom isn’t as daft as it sounds. “The key is not to leave your leather goods unattended for years so that it perishes past the point of no return,” says Carol Bellingham, leather buyer at London’s luxury goods store William & Son, “You must get there before they look like they’re dying.”

There’s no doubt that the key to your bags looking as good as new is consistent care. Carol shares her top tips with us on keeping your leather, and other exotic skins, in pristine condition.

1.Polishing is paramount. Invest in Russell and Bromley’s neutral aniline cream, £4. This is the only thing that will really bring your leather back to life. Use sparingly, and only once a month.

2.Deal with scratches right away. Use a little of the aniline cream to disguise the scratch.

3.Store carefully. When you’re not using them, store bags in a cloth bag. Don’t expose brightly coloured leather to direct sunlight, or even moonlight, which can fade certain pigments. Also avoid humid places, especially if the object is glued. The glue might start to disintegrate.

4.Try not to get your leather wet. If you get caught in the rain, dry it off as soon as you can with a duster or a soft cloth. If the rain permanently spots it, the leather might bubble and never recover.

5.Polish crocodile and lizard skin. Like normal leather, try to give this a polish once a month with aniline. Lizard is quite brittle so a bit of moisture on it keeps it malleable.

6.Brush bridlehide with a saddle brush. Bridlehide, used for document cases and traditional hand stitched briefcases, are tanned in a different way from leather used in handbags. It has a natural bloom that comes through and goes white, which just needs to be brushed with a saddle brush. Don’t use the aniline cream as it has already got lots of moisture in it. The more you polish, the better it gets.

7.Ostrich skin is tough enough. Don’t use aniline on this as it is absorbent and porous and it might stain and leave a residue. On the whole, the skin is resilient, so it won’t scratch so easily.