I just used the vachetta protection cream from lovinmybags.com on my new Retiro. It definitely made the vachetta darker, but some folks on the forum said it didn't change the color on their bag. It is now a caramel color. I'm not sure how to tell if it's a good thing that I used it, because I won't know how the vachetta would have done without the protection. Make sense?
I use Loving-My-Bags on the vachetta on all of mine. It does darken it slightly, but not much. Also, it still allows for the natural darkening of the patina, too. I swear by the stuff because I've had my mono bags out in the rain and not one has water spots on it after it was treated with it. I wanted to leave it natural, but decided that I'd rather have the beauty of the bag with a nice, spot free patina than have them look dirty from use. I bought them to use, not keep stored away. I do still store them in the dust bag and keep them babied when not in use, but I'm so glad I treated them!
water-repellant on vachetta. Its super-scary to wipe it on but once you get started you dont regret it... Just make sure its even! Important to do this BEFORE the bag gets dirty! the handles of my speedy have a grey-ish shade underneath because I did it when it had dirt under the handles. I hadnt heard of the eraser-trick yet and thought the water-repellant/cleaner would remove it. It didnt. No big real... its the underside so doesnt show but still... next time ill do it before I use her.
I use apple garde on the vachetta. I see other people's really stained vachetta and I have no idea how they get like that. I assume it's because they don't treat their bags. I've had no problems, and I credit the apple garde.
no, i've never put anything on them to protect them. i did however do something to darken the vanchetta on my Mono Speedy when i had them replaced. the virgin vachetta against the rest of the bag looked really strange so i rubbed baby oil on them. it darkened them some but they are still fairly light and now almost match the rest of the bag.