Leather Bag Buying Guide – All You Need to Know
In this modern age, time is of essence. Multi tasking has become an indispensible requirement. It has become necessary to have all important things within our reach at all time. Whether you are a dynamic professional, a busy homemaker, a career-driven person, a collegian or a school kid, you will need a bag of some kind to help you carry things. Can you imagine a visit to a market, a mall or your work place without a bag?
Shops are flooded with a wide variety of bags- shoulder bags, totes, hobos, cross body bags, clutches and purses, to name a few. Each of them come in different sizes, shapes, makes and brand names but they all serve the purpose of helping us organize our things and carry them along wherever we go. Carrying a bag with all our essentials neatly organized in it can give us an air of easy confidence . It instills a feeling of independence and poise.
Choosing a leather bag that is perfect for you can be a challenge. As mentioned earlier, you are simply spoilt for choice when it comes to buying a bag. The factors to be considered are the purpose of the bag, the size of the bag, and your budget. We have provided you with the basic information you will need to know before you buy a leather bag. Give it a read and choose well!
Types of leather
A bag can be made with many types of leather. Use of a specific type of leather for making certain things is based on the purpose for which the bag is to be used and the properties of that leather. Listed below are the commonly used types of leather.
Cow hide Leather
This leather is made from the hide of a cow. It is very often used to make bags. This leather is considered to be of the highest quality and is used to made sturdy bags. In addition to their sleek look, cow hide is very tough and can carry heavy loads without affecting the general shape of the bag.
This leather is made from the skin of sheep. Like the cowhide, it has a luxurious look. However, it has a very different feel. It has a very soft texture and is supple to touch. This characteristic feature makes it suitable for many stylish handbags. But this quality also renders it susceptible to damage and tear if used on a regular basis. They are not suitable for messenger bags or totes which will be used daily.
This is actually a man made form of leather made by bonding the discarded leather fibers. It has the look of original leather and is available at affordable prices. Manufacturing this leather is environmentally friendlier than treating original leather. It also has a glossy look and shiny finish.
Some people may be eco friendly and environment- conscious. They will not like the idea of slaughtering animals or skinning them. They may be averse to the idea of using a dead animal’s skin. There may be cultural objections to certain types of leather. The good news is that there are several other options available in the market which can give you the same look and feel of genuine leather at very affordable prices. Faux leather is one such choice.
There are other kinds of leather. Goat or kid leather which contributes to about five percent of leather products. It is more durable than sheepskin but produces finer suede than does cowhide. Pigskin accounts for about ten percent of all leather products. It produces fine suede but has large, visible pores. Milano leather is famous for its silky and soft texture. Pigmented leather is the leather which is tinted with a color. There are exotic kinds of leather made of the skin of alligators, ostriches and snakes. They are sought for their unique patterns on the skin.
In addition to deciding the type of leather you would prefer to use, it is also prudent to look for the perfect finish as well. Depending on the quality of leather and the processes used in preparing the leather, the finish and appearance of the bag will vary. Here again there are a multitude of options. Let us consider a few of them.
- Top – grain leather – This uses the outer layer of the hide. It is sanded or chemically processed to remove all natural markings. The resultant leather is very soft and smooth in texture. It is quite durable but its durability is diminished due to processing.
- Full – grain Leather – This also uses the outer layer but is unprocessed and in pristine state. So it retains all the original markings. It is also the strongest type of leather and is very durable.
- Napa Leather – This is usually dyed in black color. It has a remarkably supple feel. Genuine Napa leather is strong and durable.
- Tooled Leather – Tools are used in the final stage to embellish leather with intricate designs, improve texture and add colors.
- Quilted Leather – Stitching along the leather creates a puffed, quilted effect.
- Patchwork – Formed by sewing several pieces of leather.
Types of bags
Though available in a myriad of materials, leather bags have been a popular choice since their very inception. The first bags ever to be made were probably of leather as it was the first functional material known to mankind. Leather, not only lends to a stylish and sophisticated look but is also extremely functional, rugged and long lasting. These are the features that endear leather bags to women and men alike, not merely as a fashion accessory but as a bag you can rely on, anytime.
There is a leather bag for every occasion you can think of. Once you decide on the purpose of buying your bag and more importantly, your budget, you can narrow down choices according to the style, make and color of the bag. Here is a general classification of bags based on size and utility.
Leather Tote bags
Tote bags are usually big and roomy. They are rectangular in shape. They have a zipper or magnetic closure at the top. They may have a single large interior with lining or several individual compartments inside. An external compartment is also usually provided. They are also provided with separate compartments for storing mobile phones, keys and coins. The strap is usually long enough to be worn on the shoulders.
For people who want to carry a number of items, a tote bag is ideal. It is also recommended for work, gym, as a carry-on bag during travel, for a day at the beach or as a shopping bag. These are a very popular choice among mothers with infants and young children as it facilitates carrying the numerous items in separate compartments.
There are many bags of this type, bearing designer labels. Solid colors and neutral shades like black, brown, cream and tan are preferred because they can be used every day with most outfits in the wardrobe. They are available in bold colors and patterns too.
Leather shoulder bags
With lengthy straps to go over shoulders and spacious enough to accommodate a whole day’s supplies, leather shoulder bags are the most convenient handbags to have. They are made of leather and are sturdy and long lasting. They can carry heavy loads without sagging under strain. There are several compartments to fit your things into – keys, coins. a make-up pouch, a snack box, your mobile phone and still have space for an extra thing or two!
One popular version of shoulder bags is the hobo bag which is large and comes with multiple compartments for organizing your things. It may come with one or two shoulder straps. It has rounded corners and a slouchy shape. These are ideal for day wear and casual evening outings. With the right color and design, they could be used for official meetings as well.
Leather nappy bags are great for new moms. It is a stylish way to carry baby supplies. It can hold nappies, a nappy changing pad, a baby bottle and other supplies.
Leather Cross – body and Messenger bags
Cross body and Messenger bags are a good option for carrying heavy objects, especially when you need your hands and arms to be free. They are provided with many functional pockets to facilitate storing things. The redeeming feature is the long shoulder strap that is worn across the body, and lets the bag sit on the waist, allowing us to carry on work with our arms.
Bigger messenger bags are a stylish and convenient choice for travel and to school. Small and medium sizes work well for casual outings. If you are buying one to use for shopping, make sure the length of the strap suits you and the bag does not rest too high or low on the waist. An adjustable strap would be an intelligent option to consider.
Leather Evening bags and Clutch Purses
Evening bags and clutch purses are the most fashionable of all leather bags. They are also the daintiest and the most delicate. They are usually small in size, just to fit in the essential things and more importantly, complement the wearer’s dress style. The elegance of a purse is destroyed by stuffing things into it and making it lose its shape. So, if you have quite a few things to carry, choose a bigger purse. Wristlets that can be worn on the wrist are also a viable option.
It is important to keep your body type in mind before buying Clutch purses. A lady of petite frame is ill-advised to carry a large purse that would overwhelm her slender figure. So also, a lady of large build must avoid a purse that looks small in proportion. As a rule, a thin or slightly built woman should carry a more curved purse and a voluptuous woman should choose a more angular purse.
These Satchels are bags with handles and are usually hand held. They are of medium or small size and are either structured or unstructured. Some of them have shoulder straps provided or they can be tucked under your arm when you need to use your hands. Satchels have a classic look and have been perennial favorites of women with a passion for timeless class and style. Satchels suit dresses as well as casual wear and can be used for official and parties and evenings out on town.
Leather suitcases are a man’s forte. When you decide to buy a leather suitcase, you sure are investing a lot of money but you are also investing in a long term quality product. You can rest assured that you have made a lifetime commitment to good quality.
There are a wide range of leathers to choose from. Though they differ in name, colors, patterns and thickness, they all have one common feature – durability. If you are among those who do not mind spending that extra buck for hassle – free permanence, then leather suitcases will certainly suit you and fit your bill.
Leather suitcases have several inner compartments and pockets to accommodate your necessities and are available in many colors. Many are provided with adjustable shoulder straps to facilitate carrying.
As with every other fashion commodity, leather bags also have some of the top designer names associated with them. Coach, Gucci, Prada come out with periodic styles of bags depending on the latest fashion trends. It would be wise to have a few designer bags in neutral colors for that stylish and timeless appeal.
Tips on caring for Leather bags
- Always keep the unused leather bags in their dust covers provided at the time of purchase.
- Inspect the bag after each use. Gently wipe with a soft cotton cloth or paper towel to make sure there are no marks or spots.
- Do not use alcohol based sprays or any cleaning liquid to clean your leather bags. They are more likely to cause damage. Use cleaners specifically intended for leather and apply them in circular motion with your hand. Wipe off with a slightly damp cloth so that the pores so not get clogged. Cleaning with this soap once or twice a year should keep your leather bag in pristine condition.
- Use a leather conditioner to moisturize your leather bag and keep it supple.
- If you spot any marks on your bag, clean them immediately. Organic stain marks made by food or blood can be cleaned with white chalk. Crush white chalk into a powder and cover the stain with it. Leave it over night and wipe off with a dry cloth, the next morning.
- Clean Suede bags with a suede brush. At times, a clean eraser could be used to clean dirt spots.
- Always keep cosmetics in a separate pouch. Never have lipsticks with loose-fitting caps in your bag. Pens must always be covered. It is good idea to have a pencil case.
- Do not carry anything that will spill and ruin the fabric lined on the inside of your bag.
- Remember that white leather will invariably yellow with age.
- NEVER carry water in your leather bag. If, unfortunately, your bag gets soaked in water, don’t use a dryer on it. Try to dry off maximum water using microfiber hand towels and allow it to air dry. Condition it again and then store it.
- Be careful when you go to hair salons. Make sure your bag is kept away from hair sprays and hair colorants.
Last but not the least, handle your leather bags with clean hands. Leather has the tendency to absorb oils and grease. You may wipe the leather bag with a damp piece of cloth often, but don’t use too much water because leather takes a lot of time to dry.
Remember these guidelines and choose your leather bags. Hope you bag a winner!