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How To Make Your Leather Bag Look Aged, Distressed, and Worn

Want a manbag that looks like it's survived a zombie apocolypse? A bag that tells a story? Your story? A bag that shows years of wisdom without having to wait years? Then read on!

Option 1: Use it.  (recommended)

Use your bag as much as possilble through thick and thin. The "Indiana Jones" worn leather look is achieved slowly with great experience--like a good resume. Scrapes, stains,  dehydration, rehydration, sun burns and cold burns just happen with time and exposure. There's not faking an authentic used look. Just skip a clean and condition or two and your bag will look like it crawled out of last month's National Geographic Explorer in no time. 

Option 2: Abuse it.

  1. Spray a little rubbing alcohol on the surface of the bag, using a spray bottle, or lightly apply rubbing alcohol, using a toothbrush. The bag should be damp but not drenched: the alcohol will dry it out in points and help create a weathered look.
  2. Rub sandpaper on the leather to give it a worn look. Sandpaper with a fine grade works best. Focus on portions of the jacket apt to see a lot of wear, such as the bottom, the corners and the handles. You can apply the sandpaper to other locations in order to represent casual damage but take care not to overdo it. Some parts should look worn and others shouldn't be touched at all.
  3. Apply a wire brush to the bag in the same manner you applied the sandpaper. Center on natural wear spots like the bottom corners and high-touch areas, with variations here and there to give it a naturally aged look.
  4. Go to a sand box in a nearby playground, wad the jacket up into a ball, and kick it around in the sand. Pick it up, dust off the excessive dirt, and then repeat the process one or two more times.
  5. If you have access to a long driveway or a private length of dirt road, tie two lengths of twine to the bumper of your car and duct tape the other ends to your bag. Pull the bag up and down the roadway with your car, checking often to ensure that it's not becoming too aged. This method also works with a bicycle on a dirt trail. Make sure the leather side is facing the road, not the interior shell.

Tips & Warnings

When making a new leather bag look old, slow and careful are the watchwords. You want to give it the proper aged look without damaging it or ruining it. Accordingly, take your aging process step by step, and check whenever you are done. Small increments will allow you to determine when it's aged enough, but bigger steps could make it more distressed than you wish. Remember, once the bag has aged, there's no way to "un-age" it!