Handbag Transformation: Mulberry Ledbury

For a while now I’ve really wanted to take on a project bag. I hoped to find an item that was old and unloved and give it a new lease of life! I began my search on eBay and it wasn’t long before I came across the designer bag I was going to transform…

I didn’t want to spend too much, I told myself £50 was an adequate figure, and absolutely no more than £100 – but it all depended on the designer. I looked at vintage Louis Vuitton bags, Gucci and more, but a lot of them were canvas pieces which I didn’t think I could do very much with.

One day while browsing eBay, I came across an auction for an old style Mulberry in an oak colour. It looked worn, greasy and like it needed some serious love, so I decided to watch the item. Mulberry Ledbury’s aren’t sold anymore, but you can usually find them preloved for around £300 in good condition. A brand new small Mulberry Bayswater (which is a similar style) will set you back £895. I put in a bid and won the eBay auction on the Ledbury – for £70.

When the bag arrived and upon closer inspection, it needed more work than I thought. The leather had worn away on the edges of the bag, it was greasy and dark in places, the hardware was scuffed and it was missing a metal plate from the back of the flap. On top of all that, the fabric could have done with a clean up and the smell wasn’t great either.

AD I already own some Handbag Clinic cleaning products, so they were the first things I thought to use to get rid of some of the dirt and grease. While browsing the HC website for other products I might need, I found myself reading up on some of the restoration services they offer. These range from cleaning, fixing rips and tears, replacing zips, stitching and even changing the colour of your leather bag.

I contacted Handbag Clinic to find out more about their services and explained about my project. Amazingly, they offered to work with me on my transformation and gift a service of my choice. I thought it was a great opportunity to show the extent to which your handbag could be transformed and, although a little hesitant at first, I decided to choose the colour change. I knew this would have the most impact and make the biggest difference to my handbag. I didn’t even know it was a possibility before, so I’m excited to share some more information on the process.

The next decision to make was huge – the colour. Although I didn’t mind the oak leather, I didn’t choose to buy this particular bag based on that, so I was happy to change it. I looked at my handbag collection and saw only black and the brown shades of the Louis Vuitton canvas, which I see as more of a neutral. I’ve always been a little scared to introduce colour, but I felt like this was a chance to do just that.

After hours on Google, Pinterest and Instagram searching for Mulberry bags in different colours, I settled on one. I decided to go for red! It’s not something I would normally choose, but it can be a real statement. I also think a red bag with an all-black or neutral outfit looks amazing and it’s a colour that can work all year round.

I didn’t want just any red. I looked into trends for 2020 and found a specific Pantone colour called “Chili Pepper”. I thought the bag would look incredible in this shade. Handbag Clinic can match any shade you like and showed me samples of my colour on leather before going ahead with the service (colours can differ a lot on screen, so it’s important to see it in real life).

After I dropped my bag off at Handbag Clinic, they advised me that it would need to undergo a thorough clean and de-grease first. I left the bag with them and asked if I could go down to the Clinic and see my bag transform when it was ready for the colour change. We arranged a date and I went along, armed with my camera to capture the step-by-step process!

For stage one, and in order to go from oak to red, the bag needed a white undercoat. The technicians masked-off the metal hardware with some tape before starting with the back panel. Using Handbag Clinic’s own in-house developed pigments, the white was applied with fine airbrush layers and hand painting techniques. I also noticed the corners of the bag, where the leather had worn away, had been filled in, which I was thrilled about. After a few coats and once the bag was fully white and dry, the red application could begin!

The technicians began with the finer details using a very small paintbrush, carefully applying the red paint around the taped hardware and where the handles attach to the bag. It was so exciting to see the bag turn from white to that beautiful punchy red.

Once the fiddly areas were taken care of, the large areas were again misted with fine layers of airbrushed pigment to achieve the smoothest finish. As soon as that first coat was applied, I fell more in love with the colour! In the same way as the white was applied, the technicians used the air brush to cover a panel at a time, ensuring an even coat over the entire bag.

I left the bag at the Clinic for the technicians to add any extra coats that were needed, complete any finishing touches and allow to fully dry before sealing in the colour with their specialist finish. It was safe to say I couldn’t wait to get the call to say the bag was ready to pick up!

And this is the end result. I can’t believe this is the same tired, old bag that I purchased from eBay. It looks immaculate and the colour is absolutely stunning. I don’t know why I’ve been so scared to go for a brightly coloured bag in the past, because I can’t get enough of this! It works with so many outfits and is such a statement. The Handbag Clinic team have done such a fantastic job.

If you own a bag that needs some love, take a look at the services Handbag Clinic offer – there are a number of different ways to give your bag a new lease of life. Get a quote by using their online form and see what they can do for you.

If you haven’t already seen it, watch the full transformation video below. I’d love it if you could subscribe to my Youtube channel, so that you never miss a video!

This blog post contains an advertorial feature for Handbag Clinic. The colour change service was gifted but, as always, all opinions are my own.

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