Recently a friend kindly commented that Ipa-Nima is better than Bottega Venetta, basically because her BV wallet ripped at the seams and BV charged her USD $500 to repair it, whereas I did it for her free of charge and it looks as good as new. It is amazing when some of my customers bring in a seven-year-old Ipa-Nima bag, obviously used and worn to death, and ask us to magically give it a new life as they cannot bear to part with it. Well, there are things that we can do and there are things that we can’t. A woman will usually overstuff her handbag, throw it around and then wonder why her bag looks defective. Here are some tips on how to extend the life of your beloved companion:

Lighten Your Load. Otherwise you will distort its shape, wear out the straps and tear the lining. Never carry a loose pen or perfume oil as these stains are impossible to get out in the lining and may smear the bag’s outer shell. Empty your bag at the end of the day – throw away stray papers, store away name cards. Taking care of your bag from the inside out is good training.

Don’t Get it Wet. It is very difficult to repair a leather or fabric bag with water damage. Given the local thunderstorms, keep a spare bag in the office, like a laminated canvas shopper from our Ipa-Nima Signature series or a Cath Kidston. If your bag ever gets wet, my trick is to put the bag on top of a dehumidifier for a couple of days, then spray it with anti-mold spray before you store it.

Get It Off the Floor. The floor is where a bag gets ruined easily – someone might kick it or spill wine or food on it by accident. I don’t feel guilty taking an extra chair when a restaurant is busy so the bag can be close to me for security.

Clean It Right. Brighten dingy leather bags with a leather moisturiser and spray your bag with a leather protector when you first buy it. Computer-screen dust wipes are great for patent-leather and synthetic leather bags. Canvas bags can be cleaned with a damp kitchen towel and a little detergent. Always blot. Don’t rub. Always store your bags away from direct sunlight to prevent colour fading.

Trust The Experts. Customers who try to fix the damage themselves usually make the damage worse. Most brands here provide after-care service, but in case you are really stuck, do what most people do – put the bag aside for your next trip out of Vietnam to see whether a handbag expert can do the repair for you.

Christina Yu is the creative director and founder of Ipa-Nima, an award-winning accessories brand. Email your questions to or visit