Sunday, November 1, 2015

Something A Little Different: Designer Bag Restoration at Dr. Bags!

I love bags. Nearly as much as makeup. 

Carrying the right bag is the equivalent of wearing the right lipstick. It can make a look.
Of course, it's always a much bigger investment when you're talking about a Chanel or Dior or Saint Laurent bag versus a Chanel, Dior, or YSL lipstick. And the more you use a bag, the quicker it gets stained, scuffed, and discolored. Often pretty quickly, if you spend on exotic leather, suede, calf skin or fragile lambskin.

I used to think this was part and parcel of owning a bag. Once it got damaged, it got damaged, and you just had to enjoy it while you could.

And then a few months back a friend told me about Dr. Bags

This place is like an aesthetics clinic for your designer bags.
  • Protect new bags - You can opt to apply an invisible waterproof silicone HP coating on new bags to prevent damage and stains from water and minor abrasions for up to 8 months. 
  • Maintain and Restore used bags - You can deep-clean and restore bags to remove minor stains and fill in minor scratches and scuff marks.
  • Overhaul and recolor older bags - If your bag is old and completely discolored, you can get them touched up so they look newer - or get them recolored to a completely different shade!

My Experience

I decided to try out the various Dr Bags services with 2 bags that were perfect "candidates".
  1. The first was a lambskin ChloƩ Bronte bag in a soft blush-taupe shade which was so delicate that I had 2 scuffs on it before I even carried it out for the first time. And it was not waterproof so any droplet of water would absorb into the leather and stain it.
  2. The second was old magenta Balenciaga Velo that was stained and discolored to the point where I would never carry it out in polite company. 
ChloƩ Bronte: HP Coating and Cleaning

If there is one thing I recommend you do for your designer bags, it would be HP coating. It is invisible but repels water and bacteria for months. Don't wait until your bag gets stained and damaged. (Just like skincare, prevention is better than cure.) Repeat wetting and drying and even humidity and rain can cause your leather to dry out and crack very quickly.

I actually splashed water on my Bronte bag to see if it was really waterproof. (I won't lie - my heart almost stopped when I did that because previously, the leather would absorb the water and I had to wait hours for the water stain to fade, and not cause any permanent damage by touching or rubbing it while wet.)

But I waited - and waited. 

And the water didn't go in. Amazed. Now I can bring it out without worrying about rain and moisture. HP coating also prevents colored liquids from staining your bag. You can easily wipe off accidental spills and splashes (coffee, sauces, makeup) easily when you have your HP coating on. Just make sure to refresh your coating every 6-8 months if it's a bag you carry very often.

There was also a dark scuff mark from when I'd put the bag down on something, and I'd never been able to remove that mark.

After the cleaning and restoration treatment, it looks pristine.

Basic coatings cost around $150 per bag and can take maybe around a week.

You can also bring in your precious Louboutins and Jimmy Choos (all shoes, boots, and other leather goods) for HP coating so they stay pristine much longer.

Balenciaga Velo: ColourPro Colouring

For my poor beat-up Balenciaga which was stained and discolored from a bright magenta to a grey-prune tone, I decided to try out the ColourPro coloring treatment. This is perfect if you have a bag that's so old that it's no longer the color it used to be, or a stain that can't be removed completely with regular cleaning or restoration.

Dr. Bags offers a huge variety of colors, although the general advice for best results is that you can only go deeper, not lighter. That said, I've seen many people do a complete "white-out" and recolor their bags from another color, so discuss it with the team and see what the recommendations are.

I chose to recolor my bag to its original shade of magenta. I love that color and it's the reason I bought the bag. When I brought it to Dr. Bags, it was a sad prune-grey and only the base and the fabric of the zippers remained the original magenta shade.

Now, it's magenta and the leather is the same color as the fabric of the zippers once again, and it looks about 2-3 years younger.

Of course, recoloring will not make an old bag look brand-new. That's limited by the quality and condition of the leather in the first place. If it is cracked and very badly stained, recoloring will just minimize the look, but may not restore it to what it used to be 100%.

Just make sure you discuss it in detail with the staff at Dr. Bags so you have a more realistic expectation of what they can achieve.

It can take between 2-4 weeks for the process to be complete.

I can already imagine a lot of people buying second-hand designer or vintage bags and getting them restored - because that's usually still a lot cheaper than buying a brand new bag.

Approximate Pricing

Wallets and shoes - SGD$20 and up
Bags - $60 and up
Spot touch ups - $50 and up
Small areas - $80 and up
Large areas - $100 and up
Full wallet recoloring - $100 and up
Full bag recoloring - $350 and up
HP coating
$150 and up

For inquiries and to locate your nearest branch of Dr. Bags, visit this link.


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