Your handbags are investments. You paid a pretty penny to bring home a beautiful bag built with high-quality materials to make a timeless addition to your wardrobe and last for years of use. Yet despite our best intentions, we often find ourselves damaging our prized possessions—scratching box-calf exteriors, breaking straps, spilling things that stain, and getting caught in the rain with pieces that are far from water resistant.
To make sure your handbags last for as long as you want to wear them, there are specific habits to avoid. We reached out to an expert on the subject, Smbat "Sam" Bedrossian, owner of Fast & Best shoe repair in L.A., who takes in and repairs damaged handbags for a living (and is the trusted specialist of many a Who What Wear staffer). He shared his biggest tips for caring for your handbag as well as the major things to avoid to keep from damaging your investments.
Keep scrolling to see the top five no-nos when it comes to caring for your handbags, as well as the rest of Bedrossian's advice.
Handbags that are stored in the closet must have 'breathing' space.
WWW: What are the top damages you see most often with the handbags that come in to be repaired?
SAM BEDROSSIAN: The top damages I see with handbags are usually zipper- and paint-related. Most of them either have a malfunctioning zipper, water or beverage stains, or rain- and sun-related damages.
WWW: How can these be avoided?
SB: Avoid using your favorite bags during bad weather conditions, especially if they are suede. Leather and fabric handbags are much easier to repair. To avoid zipper damages, try not to overfill your bags with heavy items, because they tend to put a lot of stress on the zipper. As for the beverage stains, try to keep your bag away from bottled liquids.
WWW: What's the most avoidable damage that comes in?
SB: Handbags that are stored in the closet must have "breathing" space. Avoid putting your bags in tightly sealed plastic bags or near a window where the sunlight can damage the paint. Handbags left in plastic bags start drying up and cracking.
What should be the life span of an everyday designer bag?
SB: A well-taken-care-of leather handbag should last a really long time. Even though current leather goods don't have the same quality that older items used to have, they are still pretty durable and long-lasting. You should be able to use them until you think it's time for a new one.
Do not try to clean your bag at home with just water and soap.
WWW: What care tips do you suggest handbag owners follow?
SB: The main care tip to follow is to water- and stain-protect your handbag. Get your bag protected before you start using it. This way your bag will last you longer, and it will be easier to repair any water or stain damages. Since the protection doesn't last forever, I would recommend doing it every four to six months.
WWW: What exact things should people stop doing to their handbags?
SB: Do not try to clean your bag at home with just water and soap. Instead, purchase the necessary tools and items if you don't want to take it to a repair store. Avoid putting pens in the bag if they have loose or missing caps. Pen marks are a nightmare to clean. Don't use regular glue to repair any damages, do not use any spray paints on your handbag, and as previously mentioned, avoid storing your bags near windows or in plastic bags.
WWW: Where should one take their bag when it's damaged?
SB: Minor damages can be fixed at your local repair store; however, if the damage is big and costly, you should first contact the store from which you purchased the bag or the manufacturer. If they agree to fix your bag free of charge or for a small amount, then that would be your best option. However, if the cost exceeds an amount you feel comfortable with, your next best option is to take it to a qualified repair store such as Fast & Best.
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