In the last year-and-a-half, I've been crazy interested in leather handbags and understanding how leather functions in its environment on a molecular level. I eat up everything I can read on the topic! I even checked out an entire shelf of leather care books from our library (and requested that all additional books in our county's library system be sent to me).
If I have a moment to myself (think: bathroom), I quickly scan an online article about leather care. When I do the dishes at night after everyone has gone to bed, I'm watching YouTube to learn about the tanning process!
And when there is debate among professionals about what constitutes best practices (and on this topic, there certainly is), I'm on it like white on rice! It is like a puzzle for me that I can't resist trying to solve. I want to become an expert because I feel like I might have a chance at it! [Side Note: Maybe that's why my love of hermit crabs blossomed into a life-long passion. I was astounded by how much incorrect care information was out there, especially in published books!]
I am so grateful for the leather handbag collection that I have, and I've come to learn that each leather piece is vastly different from one another. Whether the leather is fine grain or pebbled has no bearing on how soft it is. And indeed looks are deceiving! One of my bags that looks super distressed and dried out is actually rather new, incredibly hydrated, and has an interior suede nap that feels as soft as a lamb! Whereas, another bag of the same age and similiar color conversely looks sleek and smooth yet is actually stiff with an interior nap that is so dry it painfully scrapes your skin when you reach into the bag.
So what has all this learning boiled down to? Buying used is the best way to go. I have a love/hate relationship with patina. Always keep a trash bag with you in case you encounter a rain storm. Waterproofing is not what I do. Genuine leather is junk. Leather Honey is the best conditioning product. And if you stain your leather from an unfortunate encounter with a dripping mango smoothie, simply buy a second smoothie and douse both boots to create a new look that has no stains. :)
|Exhibit A: On left, my boots with a stain from the mango smoothie. On right, the result of my crazy idea of dousing both boots in mango smoothie to even things out, rendering my boots happily walking again after a 4-year hiatus.|
|Exhibit B: Soft, squishy, supple leather is enjoyed when you buy a well-loved second-hand bag online. This one collapses each time I place it down because the leather is so incredibly flexible.|