BASICS & CARE
Handbag 101: Storage, part II –
By Koyaana R. March 27, 2020
If you know Rebag, you know that we prioritize the proper
storage preparation and care of handbags. Handbags are our best friends, after all. Read up on the best storage practices to aid you in prolonging the lifespan of your collections.
IDEAL STORAGE CONDITIONS
There’s more to proper handbag storage than you think. Just putting your bag into a closet in its dust bag or box isn’t always enough. Bags are finicky things, and due to various construction elements, they require extra awareness and care.
Humidity is one of the major risks that face your bag’s ideal storage. Most bag materials are best stored in 30%- 40% relative humidity. This range is easily monitored with a small device that can be purchased at most home stores. If you live in a low humidity climate, a humidifier is an option, but it should be monitored and not in direct contact with your bags.
If the humidity of your storage space is too high, your bags are at risk of developing mildew or mold. Not only will this cause a lingering odor, but it could potentially ruin your bag altogether. To combat this in high humidity regions, place silica bead packets inside your bag. These packets are commonly found in product packaging and can be repurposed for handbag bag storage. If you’re looking to invest in more extensive care alternatives, you can purchase a dehumidifier or a dry cabinet.
Typically, when we are hot, we turn on the air conditioning, when we are cold we turn on the heater. We are able to regulate the temperature at which we live to be comfortable, something that handbags are not able to do. This disadvantage can be damaging.
If stored in too high temperatures, handbags are susceptible to drying out, which may cause cracking and discoloration. Most materials also become more malleable and therefore are likely to become misshapen or permanently crease if they have not been stuffed. Many bags have what is referred to as “wax edges”, a type of finishing that seals the edges of bound layers of leather. In high temperatures, these edges begin to soften and this wax becomes pliable and may acquire indentations. In extreme cases, this wax can melt and cause damage to an area it may be resting against, which not only ruins the aesthetic of the bag but will irreparably disfigure the body’s material. In excessively high temperatures, the glue used between the layers of materials can seep out from the seams and stain the area surrounding it.
If temperatures reach extreme lows, leather and most other stiff or coated materials will become brittle and may crack. It is best to keep your items inside and out of non-climate controlled storage.
Generally, keeping your bag in a climate controlled environment, such as your home, will suffice and no special temperature control is needed. However, if you live in a location with extreme climates, it is best to be aware of what the temperature in your home is. Handbags are best kept within the range of 60-75 degrees Fahrenheit with the ideal humidity mentioned previously. Keep in mind this temperature range will be different at various levels of humidity.
Lighting is a major factor that is often overlooked when it comes to handbag storage. Exposure to both artificial and natural light over an extended period of time will discolor, fade, or even cause yellowing depending on your bag’s material. Ideally, handbags stored in dustbags will be protected from unnecessary light exposure. However, if you want to display your bags, which is understandable when you have a piece of art, closets that are primarily dark are best. Day-to-day closet lights will likely not affect your bag.
Factors that affect your handbag are not always external. As collectors, we want to make sure we’re keeping our bags in the best shape they can be, and sometimes we can be a bit overzealous. A common mistake is improper stuffing.
If a handbag is overstuffed and stored for an extended period of time, this will lead to misshaping and potentially permanent stretching of the material. When worn, this can look like the bag is permanently bulging.
Under stuffing, or not stuffing a bag at all, may lead to general loss of shape as it is not properly supported. This is dependent on the bag’s material. If left unstuffed, softer bags will be susceptible to creasing that will be difficult if not impossible to reverse.
Chains and Handles
A majority of bags have either a strap, chain, handle(s), or a combination of these and storage will vary for each of these items. Detachable items should be wrapped up separately from your bag in a small drawstring bag or tissue paper to be placed inside the bag. This wrapping will prevent interior indentations or potential discoloration.
Handbags with two handles should be wrapped together upright with uncolored or natural fibers. Ribbon, gauze, or muslin are great and inexpensive options. If your bag has a poignet, this is the time to utilize it. Storing your handles in an upright position will prevent indentation and discoloration on the body of the bag. If a bag has one handle that does not stand on its own, it is possible to loop the drawstrings of the corresponding dust bag through it to keep it upright.
Bags with chains require a bit more attention. If a bag has an attached chain strap, note where the chain comes into contact with the bag. You should minimize this contact when in storage so your bag is not at risk of indentations. Most chain straps can be pulled into the interior of the bag so it only has contact along the top of the bag, and either wrapped in tissue paper or placed into a small drawstring bags as you would with detachable ones to minimize interior wear.
Caring for your handbags is incredibly important, especially if you’re investing in your collection. Bags are resilient and can withstand ordinary storage, but knowing your options in optimizing your bags’ storage will only lengthen the lifespan of your collection, and maintain its condition.