I found, ironically thru the help of Gucci SA's, a fabulous cobbler who repairs leathers.
Add Gucci to the list of manufacturers who repair their own bags as well as Bottega Veneta. I would imagine for the prices they charge, Chanel repairs their own bags as well.
As far as designer bags bought from the dept. stores, I would suggest to just contact that manufacturer for help. However, unfortunately, many designers don't provide repair service which is when a very good expert repairer is needed.
I've only had good bags for a few years and only one has needed repairs (stitching on the zipper on a LAMB). I asked at Holt Renfrew (sells this brand), and they said if they sold it to me they would have sent it in for repairs at no cost. But since I bought that particular one at Winners, HR referred me to a very good shoe repair place that fixed it while I shopped - it was done so perfectly the shoe repair guy had to show me which side the repair was on! It cost $20 but I think that included 'same day' service.
The main reason for buying bags from the brands I do is they have excellent aftercare. I also think it encourages a brand to make great products from the start as they won't want the bag coming back.
It's also a good reason to buy bags from leatherwear specialists who do fashion and not fashion houses who do leather wear.
Gucci to Gucci
Totally wonderful, dedicated team. They have done everything from a 'quick extra stitch' to replacing an exact belt-strap on a 30+ years reversible belt.
BV to BV
They couldn't do anything about the rubbed surface of my lamb skin hobo (my fault) but they do stand by their products. Thanks for reminding me I should take my coat to be cleaned .
Hermes to Hermes
Happy to restore my 60 yo bag to look like new (only better). I have heard some not-so-good repairs too though.
I've never tried Chanel, it was policy to repair and recondition but I am not sure they do so much anymore.
I clean and polish my 'stuff' about twice a year but never use 'protective' sprays except on suede and nubuck.
WARNING TO ALL WHO BUY THE ABOVE PRE-LOVED.
IF 'WORK' HAS BEEN DONE ON YOUR GUCCI/HERMES/BV BAG (I am sure it's the same with LV and Chanel) unofficially or DIY including waterproofing, dyeing, re-stitching etc WORK WILL NOT BE DONE ON YOUR BAG.
I took a Trussardi canvas shopper with crocodile-trim to my local dry cleaners. It really needed cleaning and I could not have carried the way it was however they didn't take care of the trim (all it needed was some covering in silver foil). Still, many dry cleaners in the UK will not even 'have a go' with bags and nor will shoe repairers so it is really important to only buy the best from the best otherwise it could literally cost me thousands with a bag I can't use.
I have taken bags into Chanel and Hermes for repair and spa treatment. Have had very good experience with them, especially Chanel.
I have to say, the older I get (and the more money I spend on bags) the more I value brands that stand behind their products (no time limit and such). It is almost worthwhile to spend more on these brands because you can keep them forever.
I have also used the Leather Spa in NYC for many of my bags - they do excellent work (I believe YSL sends their bags to them).
Hi! I had a vintage YSL that needed a repair on the strap that I brought it to Leather Spa in NY. They weren't able to to match the color perfectly but it was small so it wasn't that much of an issue but they did a lovely job otherwise.
More recently I brought a my Gucci to Rago Brothers in Morristown, NJ to be redyed. It was quite old and lost it's original deep brown color. They did a fantastic job on the coloring, it matched perfectly to the brown on the unfaded parts. The guy mentioned to me that Gucci actually sends all their repairs to them so they're exceptional with Gucci stuff.
I have taken my bags back to where I bought them (Gucci, etc.) and they repaired them for me. ArtBags in NYC is supposed to be very good but I have never used them. Brooks Shoe Repair in Chicago is supposed to be very good, too.
The Wall Street Journal recently ran an article on where to repair high-end handbags. The highest rates went to Chanel, Art Bag (artbag.com/repair) and Bag Borrow Steal (bagborroworsteal.com/handbag-repair). I haven't used any of them though