Leather Worth Caring For

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The New York Sun

The Ralph Lauren collection for fall 2008 is strong on outdoorsy themes and hunting motifs. And that extends to the accessories. Several handbags in the brand’s most popular shapes, including the “Ricky” and the “Greenwich” (shown here, $2,995), are made in leather known as baranil, which is naturally tanned in France. The rich color of the leather — a light shade of brown nicknamed “RL Tan” — has made it a favorite of the designer himself, who has a Mercedes-Benz lined with it. The bags have a classic, equestrian look; decorative silver hardware on the “Western Ricky” lends the flair of the American West.

In true Ralph Lauren fashion, these bags can’t be ignored — in more ways than one: Because of the high level of natural oils, the bags must be maintained with regular buffing. When they’re not in use, a white film can develop on the surface, but a simple wipe with a cloth or soft brush will restore the natural shade. And as with all things worthwhile, this leather improves with time. Much like a saddle or a pair of riding boots, these leather bags become softer and more richly colored with use — vintage without looking worn.

Ralph Lauren, 867 Madison Ave. at 72nd Street, 212-601-2100.

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