Mention the word ‘lambskin’ to any fashion lover and the most coveted designer handbags are bound to come to mind. Think the iconic Chanel Classic Flap or the Lady Dior, made in smooth lambskin leather. But what exactly is lambskin leather and how can you care for it?
Whether you’re looking to extend the lifespan of your favourite bag or to retain the value of your luxury investment, here are some ways on how you can best protect your most cherished lambskin leather bags.
What is lambskin leather?
How well do you know your leather? Like its name suggests, lambskin leather is made from tanning the hides of young sheep. Leather aficionados will know lambskin leather as the “diva” of the leather family. It’s delicate compared to other leathers but especially prized for its fine-grained appearance and smooth, buttery texture.
Unlike sturdier leathers such as caviar or calfskin, lambskin leather can damage more easily under improper care. Its fragile nature makes it more susceptible to scratches, stains and discolouration. This is where regular care can go a long way in maintaining the longevity of your lambskin leather.
How to care for lambskin leather
Curious how you can take steps to ensure your lambskin leather bags, shoes and clothing stay in tip-top condition? We ask Emma, Style Theory Restore’s in-house restoration expert, to spill the beans on how you can best care for lambskin leather.
1. Water damage and stains
As lambskin leather is sensitive to water, you should avoid washing it or getting it wet. Excessive contact with water may cause noticeable watermarks on lambskin leather. Worse, if the leather isn’t allowed to dry, mould might emerge.
On top of water stains, lambskin leather is also prone to colour transfer, especially if it’s in a lighter colour. This can occur through friction with your clothing or accidental makeup stains. (Hello, red lipstick!)
How to prevent
“At Style Theory Restore, we often see bags requiring a quick touch-up to cover up colour stains under our Refresh service,” says Emma. “To prevent this before it even happens, we recommend a water-repellent treatment to better protect the bag. It’s also cheaper than restoring your bag only after the damage has already been done!”
Treating your bag will enhance the water-resistance of your lambskin leather, especially to rainwater. Not all leather waterproofers work the same for all types of leather, however, so we would recommend a water protector designed specifically for more delicate leathers.
Say you accidentally knock your bag against the edge of a table, or your fingernails brush against the bag flap while opening it in a hurry. Due to its softer texture, lambskin leather can be vulnerable to scratches.
“Such friction, caused by unwanted scratches, can gradually wear down the top-most layer of lambskin leather over time, eventually exposing its far more fragile bottom-most layer of suede,” says Emma. These lower layers of leather typically look different in terms of colour and texture, which can affect the appearance of your beloved lambskin leather bag.
How to prevent
If it’s a light scratch, a dose of good ol’ leather cleaner and conditioner might just do the trick. By applying a small amount of specialised leather conditioner to your bag and carefully buffing it, you can help lessen the appearance of surface scratches.
“Make sure to spot test the cleaner and moisturiser on a discreet corner of the bag if it’s the first time you are using it on that bag,” adds Emma. “It’s strongly recommended to use a soft, clean lint-free cloth before working it gently in a small circular motion across the entire bag.”
For deeper scratches that expose the bottom layers of the leather, you might need the help of a professional bag restoration service. In such cases, the Style Theory Restore team works to custom match the colour before carefully filling in the problem areas for an even appearance and seamless finish.
Need to get rid of that stubborn crease on your bag flap? Due to everyday wear and tear, lambskin leather can develop wrinkles more easily than other types of leather. This is especially common in larger bags that aren’t properly stored, which causes them to lose their structure over time.
How to prevent
When it comes to wrinkles, preventing them is always better than correcting them. While some DIY hacks recommend specific ironing techniques to flatten the wrinkles, it’s best not to try this at home.
Other than applying leather conditioner, insert a suitably sized bag organizer inside your leather bag to help it retain its structure over time. Stuffing the bag with acid-free tissue paper can also help to keep your bag in shape even when it’s not in use.
4. Sun damage
If you spend too much time in the sun, your skin will likely darken, dry out and crack. Lambskin leather, a natural material that’s technically derived from animal skin, will also react to sun exposure just like your skin.
Direct and prolonged exposure to sunlight can cause the colours on lambskin leather to fade, which tends to have a ‘whitening’ effect on brighter hues. Such discolouration can be uneven, showing up as ‘tan lines’ in the well-exposed areas of the bag and causing an undesirable change in appearance. It can also prematurely age the lambskin leather and weaken its strength.
How to prevent
If you aren’t already storing your designer leather handbags in proper dust bags, there’s no better time to start than now. A woven dust bag allows lambskin leather to breathe, helps keep the pesky mould at bay and keeps your bag away from direct sunlight.
“But if you’d like to restore your bag to its original colour, our experts are able to match and recolour your bag for a more even appearance,” says Emma. “Alternatively, we could even give your bag a brand new look by changing the colour completely.”
Not a fan of DIY? It’s time to call in the experts.
We get it. Regular maintenance of your lambskin leather bag can be a real conundrum, especially if you aren’t sure of the right tools and treatment to use.
At Style Theory Restore, our wide range of bag repair services help breathe new life into your favourite lambskin bags, wallets and leather goods. If your leather bag has developed deep scratches or substantial discolouration, it’s best to get a thorough bag treatment that includes cleaning, recolouring, edging, spot treatment for stains and colour touch-up. Find out more about the tools we use, or book your service package here.
Or rent a lambskin leather bag instead of owning one.
But what if you’re not sure whether lambskin leather is suitable for your lifestyle? If you’ve never owned a lambskin leather bag before, consider renting one first to decide if it’s for you before committing to one as an investment.
For every lambskin leather bag you choose to rent, you’ll get to spend three months getting intimate with all its wonderful qualities to see if it’s a good fit for your wardrobe. Browse our collection of lambskin leather bags now and find your dream bag!
Style Theory Restore services are currently only available in Singapore.