Leather care – how to care for your Titch product

Leather is skin, and just like your own skin, it needs a bit of nourishment every now and then. Luckily you don’t need to spend a fortune keeping your leather goods looking supple and healthy. Your leather product will change over time and it's natural beauty grow and age with use. Different types of leather have been prepared and treated with different materials and will age and wear differently. Knowing what kind of leather you’re using is therefore important.

At TITCH we primarily use two different types of leather: semi-aniline full-grain leather and vegetable tanned leather. I’ll go into why we choose to use these types of leather in another post, but for now I’ll focus on how to care for it. As an example, semi-aniline leather is the softer leather used in our slouchy anthracite tote while the straps are made from natural, untreated vegetable tanned leather. This leather ages beautifully, with the leather of the body developing a lovely deep colour, and the veg tan growing darker and softer with wear and exposure to the elements.

The aging of leather

The first rule applies to all types of leather. Leather does not like to be repeatedly wet and dried. The constant wetting and drying will dry out the leather and cause cracking. So try not to get your bag wet. If it does get a little rain on it, or get a drink spilled on it, or whatever the cause – just pat it down gently with a dry cloth or towel. Don’t place in the sun or near a heater to try and dry it quicker as this will accelerate the drying out and cracking process. Keep the hairdryer away!

For dirty marks, use a slightly damp cloth. No soap, chemicals or any foreign substances.

For vegetable tanned leather, and particularly the natural colour, dirty marks are going to form part of its story. This leather is undyed and untreated. It will pick up marks from the natural grease of your skin, and it will tan and get darker with sun exposure, just like your skin. Don’t fight it. Embrace it. It will make your bag unique.

Every now and then, if you really want to do a good job preserving your leather, use a good leather conditioner, such as Renapur (you can buy it at any good shoe repair or leather specialty shop and one tub will last a lifetime). It’s really not necessary to do it more than once a year. Just apply a small amount and rub in with a soft clean cloth.

Use a good leather conditioner every now and then

For our canvas totes, you’ll need to spot clean dirty marks, avoiding wetting the leather handles. If it’s really dirty try and submerge the body of the bag in a bucket of water with washing powder or stain remover, again avoiding the handles!

For some more reading on taking care of your leather goods, see here

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Around the studio pt. 1

This past weekend I worked on a new design that I've been working on for a while. The first few months of the year has been spent restocking after a crazy Christmas season, so it’s great to get back to designing and creating new things again.

I’ve been searching for the right leather for a small tan bag. It’s clear from my collection that I’m a huge fan of black leather, but I’ve received a lot of requests for some brown pieces. And at long last I think I finally found something that I love too!

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I’m a huge fan of really soft, buttery leather, but with this design I felt that it needed a bit of structure. I also love the contrast of soft leather with the thinker, harder veg tanned leather (you’ll see this combination in some of my other designs). So I decided to use the thicker veg-tanned leather as a sort of skeleton for the bag, providing structure and contrast.

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As with many of my favourite pieces, the design and construction is simple, with minimal hardware, allowing the beautiful materials to be the focal point.

An adjustable strap allows you to wear it longer across the body, or shorter over one shoulder, while a drawstring closure keeps your possessions safe. There’s a small pocket inside for your cellphone.

These new bags will be available in stores soon (see stockists here) and on the site a bit later

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A bit about leather

At TITCH we love leather. We’re a Cape Town based design team, making all of our goods by hand in our small workshop. As a designer, I’m inspired by the materials at my disposal. Sometimes the leather comes before the design. When a piece of leather is just too beautiful, I know I will find a use for it someday and I’ll buy it before I know what I’m going to do with it.

Leather and leather tanning has a long history. It’s come a long way from its original form, but the essence of leather and the tanning process hasn’t changed much. Tanning is the process of soaking and treating animal hides so that it’s more durable and doesn’t decompose.

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At TITCH we use a variety of leathers, from goat, bovine, sheep and other game skins such as springbok and kudu when these are available. Bovine and sheep leather is a by-product of the meat industry, so it really depends on what’s available. Game skins are a product of the sanctioned culling necessary to protect herd lands from overpopulation. Our suppliers do not support the killing of any animals solely for its skin.

The quality of the leather depends on a number of factors. Firstly, the quality of the animal’s life. A happy, healthy and well-nourished cow produces a skin with better grain quality and fewer insect bites and other blemishes. Secondly, the tanning process determines the quality of the final product. Proper tanning results in a consistent colour and finish that goes all the way through the leather to the suede side, and not just on the surface. You’ll see a poor tanning job when you see the raw edges of leather and the colour is inconsistent all the way through.

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Vegetable tanning is the oldest of the methods, using natural tannins and results in tight-grained, firm leather, which we use for straps, while chrome tanning retains the suppleness of the skin, producing a soft leather which we use for our handbags.

The better the quality of the skin used, the less processing is required. We prefer to use full grain leather, i.e. the original texture of the skin’s grain remains. This means that any scars and scratches will not be buffed out, but we believe the end result is a lot more beautiful and has character.

We aim to use only the highest quality of leathers in our production. The better the materials, the fewer bells and whistles needed. Simple design and high quality is our ethos.

 

All images sourced from Huarache Blog (https://huaracheblog.wordpress.com/2013/04/20/taller-de-curtiduria-gonzalez-vegetable-tanning-the-best-huarache-leathers/)

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