Louis Vuitton bags are known for a few staples that make them instantly recognizable to almost anyone’s eyes. The revered Monogram canvas is a Vuitton trademark that’s accompanied by another equally-iconic detail: Vachetta leather.
The trim, handles, and piping of many Louis Vuitton bags are made from this distinguished leather, which has led many people to develop preferences about their Vachetta leather and the patina that it develops.
Truthfully, we can’t help but be dazzled by the look of an older Louis Vuitton bag that has been well taken care of and that has developed a beautiful patina. That’s why we’ve put together this tell-all about the Louis Vuitton Vachetta leather that’s so coveted.
Why Vachetta Leather Is So Beloved
Vachetta leather is a straight-forward material. It’s an untreated cowhide, meaning it hasn’t been dyed or treated with preservation processes that more commonplace leathers undergo. Staying in a natural state makes untreated leather susceptible to discoloration and water stains, but this also allows it to age naturally and develop what’s called a patina: a sheen of oils and other elements from the environment that darken the Vachetta leather.
Many people love the way Vachetta leather on Louis Vuitton bags can imbue a crisp and new or vintage look on each bag depending on how deep of a color the patina has developed. Over time, this type of leather ages with your bag without detracting from it, whereas some other leathers or fabrics can degrade faster than other materials that may be present on the piece. In the case of Louis Vuitton bags, the combination of Vachetta leather and Monogram canvas is a perfect match in terms of durability and aging gracefully.
Untreated vs Treated Leather
On many bags, including some varieties of Louis Vuitton styles, the leather will have undergone an extensive treatment process that can change the color, texture, gloss, and durability of the leather. That’s why knowing the difference between untreated and treated leather can help you make a more informed decision as to which bag suits your lifestyle the best.
Although all leather has been processed to some degree, treated leathers are the majority of us think of when it comes to leather goods we can pick up at the store. Treated leather makes some of the most popular bags, leather jackets, wallets, and other small goods because of the various colors it can come in, the gloss, the water/stain resistance, and the texture options provided.
Treated leather will have gone through a much more rigorous preservation process which natural, untreated leathers avoid the majority of.
Vachetta leather is made from cowhide that is left untreated. This means that it’s still processed to a certain extent but it does not undergo glossing, dyeing, or tanning.
Vachetta Leather and Patina Color
New Vachetta leather has a pale beige color that complements the brown tones of Monogram canvas, making it as delightful to wear when it’s new as it is once a beautiful patina has developed.
There are many different opinions as to which color of patina is “best,” but the truth remains that Vachetta leather in all shades is still a wonderful complement to Monogram canvas. However, there are certain shades of Vachetta that tend to be more desirable than others.
When it comes to patina, it seems like the consensus is in that a honey patina is highly desirable. This shade is the perfect middle ground between the striking pale beige color of new Vachetta leather and the deep brown that it may eventually age to.
In ideal situations, the honey patina will be even across all Vachetta surfaces – resulting in a beautiful bag like the one shown in the photo below.
Since patina developed through time and as a result of wear, the color that your Vachetta leather can darken to depends on the way the bag is handled. Oils and even lotion from our bodies can change the way Vachetta leather ages, causing areas with the most contact to skin to turn darker. As a result, handles and zipper pulls made with this type of untreated leather will develop more a pronounced patina.
In the photo below, you can see that this Neverfull has developed a beautiful honey patina on the trim and the chaps at the base of the handles. However, contact with skin oils, lotion, and environmental moisture have caused the handles to develop a much darker patina.
How to Keep Your Louis Looking Beautiful
If you’ve taken the plunge and purchased a bag that features untreated leather, there are a few things you should keep in mind to make sure it ages gracefully.
Vachetta leather is prone to damage in the sense that it can be easily stained or discolored by water and other environmental causes. Applying a lot of lotion or having residual makeup on your hands could cause a very dark patina to develop in frequently-touched places. Similarly, water stains may cause darkened outlines to appear on the leather trim.
On a better note, Vachetta leather is fairly durable and more resistance to scratching and scuffs than, say, lambskin leather. This means that your Louis bag, in combination with the sturdy Monogram canvas, can be worn often without risking too much damage from day-to-day activities. Similarly, moisturizing and otherwise caring for untreated leather can minimize the likelihood of cracking and other blemishes occurring.
In many cases, damage or staining can be difficult or nearly impossible to reverse, so avoidance is the best route to take.
Part of keeping your Louis Vuitton bag looking beautiful throughout the years entails making sure that it’s cleaned regularly. Regular upkeep will also help maintain any Vachetta leather that’s present to avoid blemishes. Using alcohol-free, unscented baby wipes will allow you to clean the Monogram canvas and Vachetta leather on your bag without risking damage.
If you’d like to know more about what you should be doing to care for your Louis bags, please take a look at our blog entitled How to Safely Clean Louis Vuitton Bags for a detailed breakdown.
Aside from cleaning, which does not typically lighten Vachetta leather from the color of patina it has already developed, Louis lovers do have another option: restoration.
Many people have discussed the use of a Magic Eraser to “restore” the Vachetta leather on their bags to a lighter color because it tends to abrasively remove the layers of buildup that have accumulated on the leather. Afterwards, moisturizing the bag is key to ensure that using the Magic Eraser doesn’t strip the leather too much and leave it more vulnerable. Be sure to keep in mind that any restoration will not be a fix-all for deep stains or bringing the leather back to that brand-new, pale beige color.
If your bag has been damaged, you can also take your item to your nearest Louis Vuitton store so that it can be sent to the repair center to be fixed. This can include Louis Vuitton trying to alleviate discoloration, though returning a bag to a brand-new state is unlikely.