Many Louis Vuitton bags feature leather straps and detailing that is initially pale in color when the bag is new but begins to darken over time. This darkening of the leather can result from several different influences.
The primary reason that leather Louis Vuitton straps darken is that the leather is beginning to patina. This process causes the leather to change color as it comes into contact with various external substances such as natural oils in your hand, creams or lotions on your skin, or liquids such as water.
This patina process is particularly noticeable with Vachetta leather and should not be considered a flaw but rather a unique characteristic for each bag. However, there are ways to slow down or even out the patina process for bag owners who wish to maintain the paler leather aesthetic as long as possible or who want to achieve an even patina.
Why Vachetta leather develops a patina
Louis Vuitton makes use of Vachetta leather in some of their pieces, which is the pale leather that is visible on the straps, zipper pull tabs, and trim of some bags. While the leather is initially very pale, over time it will change color, first becoming similar to honey in color and eventually becoming a darker brown.
While many types of leather undergo various treatments such as dyeing or preservation treatments, Vachetta leather is largely untreated. This is why it has a pale color but also means the leather can be easily affected by contact with external substances such as water or other liquids, hand creams, natural oils produced by your skin, and more.
These substances will begin to change the color of the leather when they come in contact with it, causing the leather to darken and develop a slight sheen over time. The more the bag is used and exposed to various external elements, the faster the patina will develop.
Caring for Louis Vuitton bags and influencing the patina
The better care you take of a Louis Vuitton bag, the longer it will last. However, the way you handle and care for your bag will also affect the patina.
To keep the Vachetta leather in good condition you can use leather cream on it which will keep it moisturized and help prevent the leather from cracking.
If, for instance, the bag comes in contact with water or other liquids or substances, you may need to clean it in order to prevent or reduce damage. It’s important to do this as soon as possible to minimize the damage but it’s also vital to clean the bag in a suitable way that won’t exacerbate the damage.
Don’t use abrasive substances or cleaning materials on the bag as they can easily damage it. The best and easiest way to clean the bag is to gently wipe the bag using alcohol-free, unscented baby wipes.
These can be used on the canvas as well as the Vachetta leather, before leaving the bag to air-dry naturally. Don’t place it near a radiator or use a hairdryer to dry it as these direct heat sources can damage the bag’s materials and can also cause the leather to darken faster and unevenly.
To reduce the chances of colored dye transferring from items of clothing to the Vachetta leather, you can use a waterproofing spray on the leather to help form a protective barrier.
If you want to develop an even patina, try to avoid using hand lotions when carrying a Louis Vuitton bag as the lotions will cause the leather to patina faster where your hands come in contact with it. This would mean areas such as the straps or zipper pulls would patina faster than other parts of the leather (such as the trims or different sections along the straps that aren’t held as frequently), leading to an uneven aesthetic.
Be conscious of where you may set the bag down so you can avoid it coming into contact with dirty or greasy surfaces or floors. Additionally, when not using the bag, it’s best to store it inside its dust bag to help protect it from dirt and dust.
Can you darken the straps faster?
While the Vachetta leather will eventually patina over time, there are several ways to quicken the process if desired. The easiest way to do so is to use the bag often, as the more it is used, the faster it will patina.
However, bag owners who have a new bag that hasn’t been used yet can quicken this darkening process and start developing an even patina through other methods. One method is to leave the bag in a sunlit room or near a window for several hours each day for a week.
It’s important to be careful when doing this and to not overexpose the bag, as direct sunlight will potentially damage the materials or cause uneven darkening, so cover the canvas parts of the bag and make a note to turn the bag at intervals for a more even patina on the leather. After this process, you can wipe the leather with alcohol-free, fragrance-free baby wipes, allow it to dry naturally, and then wipe again with a clean wipe.
If the bag is being used daily, you can wipe the leather with a baby wipe each day to help prevent uneven discoloration, or otherwise wipe the bag once a week.