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Once so beautiful, now so ugly

October 18, 2017

Hey guys, it's finally a holiday today so I have some time to sit down and talk about something that has been on my mind for a while now.


When I was introduced to the world of leather goods, there were so many types. It was amazing! A leather type that really intrigued me when I started out was patent leather. 


Patent leather is a type of leather that has a very glossy and shiny coating over it. Some people even say the coating looks like glass! 


Here's an image of patent leather:



Recognise this glossy texture? You probably know at least two or three people who own shoes like these.


But it was to my dismay that I found out patent leather is really different from how it looks...


Let me share with you what I found out over the years.


Myth 1: Patent leather is very durable.


When you first see patent leather, you immediately notice that the material is coated with a shiny layer. Isn't this a great thing? It looks like a mix of plastic and leather, so it won't tear right?


X : Patent leather can peel too! It doesn't happen very often, but when it peels, it's not possible to do a proper color touch up service on it. The texture will be different, so it cannot be restored 100% unless you redye the entire bag with a new color.


 For this case, scroll down to see what is the best option to resolve it.



Myth 2: Patent leather is stain proof.


You decide to treat yourself to ice coffee today. But oh now! Your coffee spills onto your leather bag!


Everyone knows this would cause some staining for regular leather... But the shiny coating on patent leather looks like the liquid will slide right off~


X : Patent leather faces bigger problems... If you keep your patent leather bag lying next to another bag - run to your cupboard immediately and separate them now!


Due to the special coating on the leather, the color of other bags will be 'absorbed' by patent leather. This is known as a color transfer. If you put patent leather next to something hot (think of hot bottles of water), the leather will also start to turn a strange color.


Here's one of the stained patent leather bags we received before. 

This can never be rstored to its original color, so take care to pack your patent leather bags properly!


If you are already facing this problem, scroll down to find out what you can do.



Myth 3: Patent leather is easy to maintain.


This seems obvious right? If there's a glossy plastic-like coating on the surface, how difficult can it be to maintain? I thought that I could even save time and effort on doing leather polish for my patent leather bags, so it's a good investment.


X : The truth is patent leather can be terrible to maintain. :(


In Singapore, where the weather is hot and humid, that's already a nightmare for some leather types, and the mould...! Mould just LOVES humid places.


For most leather types, if there is mould on it, Honest Crafters can do a mould removal and color touch up to improve the surface condition of the bag. 


But for patent leather, the mould often grows in between the leather and the special coating, you cannot do any surface treatment at all! The leather may also start to look cloudy, and matte, instead of its signature high gloss look. 


Here's an example of a case we resolved in the past. 


Worse still, sometimes the patent leather, due to mould or the weather, will have a chemical reaction and turn sticky... All your thumbprints and dust will be stuck onto the surface. What a nightmare!



What can you do?


There are some methods and solutions I found for dealing with patent leather, luckily.


Method 1

Buy darker colored patent leather. That gorgeous baby blue patent leather, or that handsome ivory patent purse is going to turn weird colors after ageing. As beautiful as they look, I don't want to be stuck with a weird ugly discolored purse after a few years... 


Black patent leather is the safest, to prevent print or color transfers. (It also looks really chic!)



Method 2

Make sure you store it properly. Don't put it in a dustbag next to newspapers or colored bags. Keep checking in on it, making sure that you can nip any problems in the bud before they develop into something very serious. Seek professional help if you must. Use a bit of patent leather cleaners or petroleum jelly if you can (but test it out on a small corners first!)



Method 3

If it turns sticky or mouldy, you can contact us at (+65) 9787 9271 through WhatsApp, and send us as many photos of your bag as possible to describe the problem. We can help reduce the stickiness and restore the glossy look, but it really depends on the condition of the bag. 



Method 4

The method we recommend the most is also something most people will be surprised by at first, but it's by far the most effective method for dealing with all the problems!


One of our previous cases, where the customer had some serious scruff marks on her bag.


Method 3 is to do a re-dye of the entire patent leather material! 


It is very effectively getting to the root of the problem (which is the special coating).


When you re-dye patent leather, due to the special glossy coating, you cannot use normal leather dyes. You have to use special patent leather dyes, and this process will also take a lot longer than other dye processes.


However, the result is truly stunning, I love it! 




Notice how the vachetta piping is also left untouched? The final look makes me want to go out and buy a patent leather bag or shoe right away! 




Feel free to leave a comment sharing your patent leather experiences! It's always good to learn more if you have something to share. Would love to know what you guys have learned over the years.


If your bag needs a re-dye, we are also available for online consultation on working days, so drop us a message at (+65) 9787 9271 with photos of your bag describing the problem, and we will do our best to get back to you soon.


Also, happy Deepavali holiday to everyone~


With love,

Grace "I thought this was easy!" Guo


p.s. We've moved to Raffles City Shopping Centre #02-08/08A!




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