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Guidance Needed Reviving Old Leather Weekender bag

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 
I recently acquired the bag pictured below and need some guidance on how to clean it up and protect the leather. The bag is from the '60s and likely sat in a closet since then as the condition is practically NOS. For its age and lack of use the leather is actually quite supple but there is one area that needs some TLC as the leather feels rougher there and leaves residue on your hand after touching. It's not totally dried out and flaking but the leather seems to be breaking down somewhat in that area.

What is the best way to bring the bag back to life? The guy I bought it from recommended a coat of saddle soap before I applied anything else. I've read on this forum that people swear by Lexol Conditioner, creamy beeswax, and bridle leather feed. What's the best way to go about treating this bag and ensure the leather lasts a long long time? The seller also said that no longer how I treat the bag it will never be OK to use it in the rain as water will stain the leather. There's a couple small water stains on the bag so maybe he's right, but I've used plenty of other leather bags in the rain and never observed lasting damage.

Any help is appreciated. Thanks!

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problem area on the lower left quadrant of this photo
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post #2 of 8
Teh bag looks rather clean. Saddle soap or thorough cleaning is not necessary. But you need a damp(not wet) cloth and apply Lexol to the bag. After conditioning apply a beeswax based compound to make it more water resistant.
post #3 of 8
Thread Starter 
There's no downside to applying saddle soap first other than the time spent doing it, correct?
post #4 of 8
Saddle soap is harsh. It will dry out the leather, should only be used on saddles that have a shell and no creasing, and such. I would dust it off and put obaneaufs leather oil on it. It would most likely darken the leather quite a lot though. Probably a plus here. Anything you do to this color is going to darken it quite a bit.
post #5 of 8
Quote:
Originally Posted by entrero View Post

Teh bag looks rather clean. Saddle soap or thorough cleaning is not necessary. But you need a damp(not wet) cloth and apply Lexol to the bag. After conditioning apply a beeswax based compound to make it more water resistant.

+1
post #6 of 8
I too have a bag that needs to be cleaned up. I picked up this Peal Co for Brooks Brothers that I believe is Swaine Adeney Brigg. It is pretty dirty and has some water stains on it. It appears a bit dark but thats because I just soaked it in Lexol before the pic. Any suggestions to clean the dirt and grime off of it? You guys mentioned that saddle soap is too harsh. Would Obaneufs even out the leather?
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post #7 of 8
Lexol also sells leather cleaner (orange bottle). Use a wet cloth this time, apply a small amount at a time and rub it clean. Hopefully this evens out the color. As last resort you could try a shoe cream (not wax) to even it out, that's on your own risk of course
post #8 of 8
Quote:
Originally Posted by patrickBOOTH View Post

Saddle soap is harsh. It will dry out the leather, should only be used on saddles that have a shell and no creasing, and such. I would dust it off and put obaneaufs leather oil on it. It would most likely darken the leather quite a lot though. Probably a plus here. Anything you do to this color is going to darken it quite a bit.

I agree with Patrick 100% against the use of Saddle Soap or any product that has SOAP in it.
How I would deal with such an old bag would be to first closely examine and test the strength of the stiching. Make sure there is no dry rot.
Then examine the pliability of the leather. Take a test area and roll the leather gently. Did it crack? then forget any restoration.
If it did not crack, then the leather should be pliable enough to be re-envigorated.
Personally, I would generoudly work leather conditioner onto not the surface and underside of every inch of the leather...yes the suede side too.
Soak the bastard through and through from both sides, working it in with your hands. Gently work as much lotion as you need so the leather becomes even saturated. This should take you an hour. Then let the bag dry for 24 hours. Then wipe the bag with a soft cloth all over and then with clean hands, work your hands over the leather. Just massage the leather. No more lotion. Roll the leather, work it, massage it until every part of the leather has been worked. You will get a feel for it. You will become one with the leather and you will understand when this happens. I recently revived my fathers neglected leather camers accessory bag from the 1950's this way. I was almost certain it had dry rotted but was so pleased that it is still fine.
My method is not the only method so you do this at your own risk. I can only say this is what I do. Even the tan leathers, once soaked, turn dark but once dry will lighten again to their original colour or close to with some character.
I would also wait until one of the leather experts rings in here before procedding with any work.
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