Southeast Asia’s largest circular fashion platform Style Theory has launched a bag restoration service as part of its fifth anniversary celebrations. We put it to the test.
Sustainability is no longer just a buzzword but an important part of the luxury ecosystem. On the consumer level, it goes beyond supporting labels and collections that champion the cause, but also in how we treat our precious buys. The better we care for them, the better their longevity – which honours the minds and hands that conceived them.
Like most folks who exercise some basic care for their luxury handbags and shoes, I have my stash of leather oils and wipes that I use for light cleaning and maintenance. While DIY care is easy for barely or lightly soiled leather items, I ran into a bit of a roadblock with my Hermès Herbag Zip, which has a sturdy, detachable canvas body and thick cowhide leather top flap, shoulder strap and collapsible handle. It also features a palladium-plated Clou de Selle closure, a back pocket with a zip, and a removable inside pouch.
I don’t have any experience or know-how for canvas, nor do I have the confidence to take apart the bag and clean its various components myself. As we all know, Hermès creations can last forever with the right TLC, and it’s time to give my trusty sidekick a professional restoration. Thankfully, Style Theory stepped in with the service.
While a $20 Concierge Fee is charged for the pick-up, I’m glad that it will be used to offset the payment of my chosen service package (there are four each for bags and small leather goods). The well-organised website offers a wealth of information and FAQ answers, states everything including images of restored bags in clear detail, and most importantly, the pricing is highly competitive and transparent. Prices are also the same across all bag or small leather goods sizes.
After the collection was arranged in a snap, Style Theory’s support team wrote to me one week later to explain in detail their assessment, as well as their recommendation of the Refresh service package. It specifically spot-treats the bag and also includes the deep cleaning and hardware polishing that come with all packages. Upon my approval, the restoration process began.
Style Theory also shared its entire step-by-step process with me – a super-impressed customer at the end of four weeks. I was pleased to see what went down with my very own bag.
Step 1: “Before” Photos
Multiple detailed and close-up shots of the pre-cleaned bag are taken and sent as a collage to the customer. It is at this stage that the restoration experts propose a restoration plan.
Step 2: Disassembly
The bag is carefully taken apart in order to work on individual materials and parts, such as cleaning, polishing and colour retouching. All parts of the bag are accounted for and neatly lined up on a clean and dry mat.
Step 3: Deep Cleaning
The fabric of the Herbag is gently scrubbed with a brush dipped in a mild cleaning solution to remove as much stains and dirt as possible from the surface. For deeper spot-cleaning on stubborn stains, specialised spotting chemicals are used to lift various types of stains out. These chemicals are specially formulated to treat and remove water-soluble or solvent-soluble spots. Compressed air is also used to quicken the drying time. Once the fabric is fully cleaned, it is hung to dry in a well-ventilated area.
Step 4: Colour Touch-Ups
For the leather flap of the Herbag, uneven leather stains and discolouration are subtly evened out through a few light coats of water-based acrylic paint.
The restoration experts carefully match a shade as close to the original leather as possible, and apply the paint with an airbrush tool to ensure an even and natural finish.
Step 5: Reassembly
Once all individual parts are restored, the bag is reassembled carefully.
Step 6: “After” Photos
The restored bag goes back into the lightbox for its makeover shots. The images are again collaged and sent to the customer.
(Main and featured image: Christian Vierig/Getty Images)