Love at first sight. There is no mistaking it. You see a leather bag and you fell in love instantly. Leather is strong and likewise durable. But most importantly, it is beautiful. Like a fine wine, leather ages beautifully. But what makes leather so beautiful? The answer is simple: leather patina.
By definition, the leather patina is the term that describes the aging of leather. It is a slow change that develops on the surface of the leather. This change is the result of the fabric’s continued use and exposure to the outside elements. It is especially visible in the aging of high-quality leather. Thus, some consider such change as a hallmark for high-grade leather such as top-grain and full-grain leather.
Likewise, leather patina also makes leather highly desirable not only due to its quality but the aesthetic it brings as well. Most people going for a cool and vintage look often use leather to highlight their style.
How Does Leather Patina Develop?
Developing a great leather patina takes time and patience. It is not something you see changing every day. It is only through time, use, and exposure will the leather change into a more beautiful fabric. The maintenance and conditioning of leather are equally important factors in this process. Therefore, in achieving that great leather patina proper care is necessary.
The leather must be cleaned from time to time and it must be cleaned the right way. You must only use the proper leather cleaner whenever cleaning leather. Furthermore, cleaning leather must be by handwashing only. Moreover, to properly maintain leather you must invest in great quality leather conditioners. It will keep the leather clean and strong. It will likewise protect the leather from dirt, grime, and stains.
Speeding Up The Leather Patina Process
Not all leather will patina at the same time. even leather from the same animal skin will not have a uniform change. Aside from proper maintenance and conditioning, there are certain factors that may affect the patina process. For example, a leather wallet might develop patina faster than a leather bag or leather jacket. You might be thinking “yes, that is possible because wallets are exposed to constant pressure and friction as it is always kept in the back pocket.” This logic is not wrong, however, it is only a fraction of what affects the process. Other factors that will affect the patina include water, natural body oils, moisture, dust, dirt, heat, and sunlight.
The More Exposure The Better
From the paragraph above, more exposure will likely speed up the patina process. There are different levels of exposure and there are different effects to the leather as well. The exposure to different factors will affect the patina outcome. Therefore, “the more exposure, the better” is not always right. It will more or less depend on what kind of patina you are trying to achieve.
For example, frequently exposing your leather to sunlight and heat will likely bring out a golden tone to the fabric. Meanwhile, frequent exposure to rain or seawater will leave splash marks on the leather’s surface. Moreover, natural oils such as those secreted by our body will likely cause dark patches to form on the leather.
Frequent exposure to these factors will likely speed up the patina process. However, the best way to speed up the process is just to use your leather frequently. Let time be the only factor influencing the change. The secret to beautiful leather patina is patience. Use it as you normally would and let it age beautifully with all its scrapes and scratches. In fact, according to leather artisans and enthusiasts, each scratch, scruff, wear, and tear makes your leather even more special. This adds to the already unique characteristic of leather made from animal skin. As they say, every leather is unique as no two animal skin is exactly the same.
Slowing Down The Leather Patina Process
For those who want to keep that “new leather” look, you may want to slow down the patina process. Regularly cleaning and condition your leather will help preserve its original look. Especially for leather that is continuously exposed to heat and sunlight. This is necessary because these factors will not only speed up the process but it will also dry out the leather. Therefore, you may want to clean and condition it regularly, like once a month for example.
This does not mean however that if you want to speed up the process that you can neglect cleaning and conditioning the leather. These tasks are as important in speeding up the process as to slow it down as well. You may not want to clean as regularly as you want if you want to speed it up. However, it is advisable that you clean it at least twice a year or every 6 months. This helps to at least strengthen the fabrics of the leather and nourish it as well. This will prevent the leather from drying out.
Patina = Worn Out Leather?
This is a common misconception when it comes to leather. Logically speaking, frequent use and time will wear out any fabric. Leather, however, is different. As you frequently use leather and as your leather survives another year it will develop this beautiful patina. This patina, although it looks worn out and vintage, does not mean that the fabric has gone weak and worn out. In fact, the process does not affect the leather’s durability or longevity at all. However, this is only true if you take good care of your leather. We cannot stress how important cleaning and conditioning does to leather.
A Great Investment
Always remember that the hallmark for great, high-quality leather is its patina. Invest in high-quality leather such as top-grain or full-grain leather to have the best-looking patina. Although they are quite expensive, high-quality leather is strong, durable, long-lasting, and beautiful as it ages. They are guaranteed a great investment.