Chains: one of the most common elements in handbag construction, yet one of the most overlooked and underestimated issues when it comes to handbag storage. Don't underestimate the issues an improperly-stored chain may cause. Your bag faces permanent indentations and other kinds of damage, so learning to be aware of the chain and how it comes in contact with your bag while both in use and in storage will help ensure that your bag isn't hit with unnecessary wear and tear.
There are several types of chains and how they are integrated into the design varies from bag to bag. If your bag has a chain, either functional or decorative, now is the time to take note of where and how much it makes contact with other parts of your bag.
Detachable chains are easily removable and can be stored separately from your bag. Ultimately this is the best option to have, but of course is not available on all handbags. Models that typically have a detachable chain include crossbody bags and medium-sized bags.
To store this type of chain it is best to detach it and either wrap in acid-free tissue paper or in a small cotton drawstring jewelry bag and place into the interior of your bag during storage. The reason it needs to be wrapped is due to oxidation and tarnishing of the metal that will transfer to the interior lining of your bag and cause damage.
There are several versions of bags where the chain is attached to the bag, this does not necessarily mean fixed or immovable, but it does mean it cannot be removed.
Bags that have the chain attached at the sides have areas that are constantly in contact with the bag, causing wear and potentially tarnish transfer. When in use, there isn’t anything you can do other than be conscious and pay attention to wear you can lessen with proper care and cleaning. However, when in storage, simply gather the chain in a looped fashion and wrap in acid-free tissue or insert into a small drawstring bag and place inside the bag, on top of your preferred method of stuffing. Placing it on top will prevent the stuffing from pressing the chain into the interior base and avoid indentations.
Many bags have adjacent grommets that a chain can be pulled through in various ways to create different lengths for wearing. You’ll notice that the chain comes into contact with the material under the flap, and if there is another interior flap, it is constantly pressed against this section and ultimately causes damage. These bags are harder to store, and indentations are unavoidable for bags with extra flaps. However, if it is a single flap you can easily pull the chain through one set of the grommets so the chain is pulled taught on the exterior, and gather the chain to be wrapped in acid-free paper or a small drawstring bag. For bags with extra flaps, we recommend doing the same with the chain but tucking in the back interior pocket behind it.
This type of chain is usually for small bags and wallets on chain. The shoulder chain passes entirely under the flap, either through a leather channel or leather loops. With the chain passing through constantly, it will come as no surprise that this leather will degrade at the edges of the channel or loops over time, and the stitching may come loose. It also makes contact with the edges of the flap, causing wear in this area as well. When in storage, simply pull the chain under the flap and wrap in acid-free tissue paper or a drawstring bag and tuck inside the bag. You may or may not have stuffing for this type of bag, again place on top of stuffing if used.
As a quick, honorable mention, as these do not require extensive care, there are decorative chains that should be considered. These types of chains generally cannot avoid contact with your bag, and even in storage, cannot be wrapped depending upon placement and spacing. As part of the design of your bag, it is likely that it won’t affect wear unless it hangs loose as fringe or draped across various areas, at which point adding a layer of tissue between the bag and the chain is suggested.
Whether your bag has one chain handle or two, it is important to make sure you are aware of where it rests when you’re ready to put it away. One handle bag chains will alternate sides of resting when in use, creating an even distribution. However, once in storage it is important to make sure that the handles are brought to the interior of the bag, either over the top edge or pulled through grommets if they have them. When pulled over the top, it is best to lay something between the chain and the top edge of your bag, to avoid tarnish transfer, felt is recommended to not only avoid tarnish transfer and indentations. If the chain handles are attached through grommets, it is best to pull the handles taught through one side, this makes it easier to wrap them.
Making sure your handbags are properly cared for is our top priority. Not only will this extend the life of your handbag, but will further your awareness of factors that cause wear and tear on your handbag that you may not otherwise notice.