Wednesday, October 13, 2010


....AND PREPARING FOR SYDNEY'S FAMOUS VINTAGE FAIR...(this Friday, Sat and Sun--see below post for details)

I think I have a bag fetish....I am drawn to vintage bags that have good wholesome design and use good leather--which I think happens to be the vast majority of them.

But I'm also drawn to old vinyl bags.

However....I lament that.....
the vinyl of a few decades ago is not the same as today's. What I have found the last 10 years or so is that the non leather bags are either too stiff, too smooth and plastic feeling, and have been poorly cast. They are awful in cold weather, becoming even stiffer. The vinyl of the 50s, 60s and 70s, and even into the 80s, have a superior firmer yet pliable quality that makes them sit well, have even pattern and can be easily manipulated.

The worst and almost depressing aspect though, is that even many of the leather bags of the last decade have decreased in quality. The leather doesn't smell like the leather of the past, doesn't feel like it and often doesn't even look like it. ... One of the most hedonistic things about leather is the smell--it is rich and unique and somehow matches the look. Warm, comforting and giving. It tells us we are all connected to the natural world in some way, that things discarded can be used, that we are tribal. And so this feeling and connection is gone for me.

I have checked the new bags out many times--what I can deduce is a number of things. The leather now mostly comes from China where cost efficiency is demanded by designers and is very well executed by the experienced makers, so....
....the leather used is of poor quality, is thin, is not treated with the same chemicals.
This reason may be twofold--dearer cost of traditional chemical, and dangerous effects of some of the older treatments.

So...because the leather is thin and poor quality (meaning it will wear and tear easily) it must need to be coated with a plastic like material which gives it strength. When the leather is extra thin, it is glued onto a plastic type material. Both of these aspects give the leather an unnatural look and feel. Add to that the uneven surface commonly found in the leather used, where one side can be soft even grain and another side creased and hard, and you have a poor handbag experience.

Also what I see, is that the outside of the bag can be leather, but on the inside plastic additions are used. Cheap, thin synthetic lining is also used and is another grievance of mine--it simply feels awful.

I have seen this issue in mainstream shops and I have seen it in designer areas--sometimes you can be lucky and somehow they get it right. And I can see also many get it sort of close--but put an older vintage bag next to them and you can immediately see the difference. Vintage bags have often stood the test of time--they last longer, wear better and mostly look better with age. The patina on an older bag can be enticing in itself--it shows warmth, and steadfastness-- it says it is your rock solid companion for ever...even if it may not be.

Here are some great bags I have been cleaning and polishing up today to take to the Show. I took them onto the front verandah--their great earthy colours seemed to say "take us to that climber and sit us on the weathered timber for our photo shoot". My favourite is the little red carry case. It has so much character and feels great in your hand. It has a cute tartan lining as was common in the 50s/60s.

The weather was overcast yet a pleasant temperature today. We have had a lot of rain over a long period of time through winter and early spring and so this is shaping up to be the best spring for our plants here for at least 20 years. Everything is a vivid green, rich lighter colour new leaves are sprouting and plants have, have had or will have wonderful flowering. The purple splash of colour to the back is a batch of Australian native Mintbushes or Prostanthera species. They are delightful in colour, flower shape and I adore the minty with a hint of lavender smell they have. Sometimes you can smell it quite a distance. They are a very under-utilised group of plants in my opinion. So many Australians have never even heard of them.


  1. Those bags, I want all of them. Cute blog. Come visit mine when you have time.


  2. Liz, You are so right about the much better quality of vintage leather bags compared to the cheap things coming out of China today. Just love the bags all lined up - they must have sold out, I'm sure. Thanks for the info on prostantheras - you are right, I have never heard of them but I will see, them out.

  3. OH.. bags, bags and more bags.. i want all of them..

  4. Glad you all like the bags! I spend lots of time and love searching for and restoring them.
    The weekend was very successful and I sold about half of them--the rest will be in Mitchell Road Antique and Design Gallery in a day or two.
    Cheers. :)

  5. Those are some really cool bags.

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