I am passionate about vintage Dooney & Bourke. In this post, I’ll tell you a little bit about vintage Dooney & Bourke All Weather Leather bags and in future posts, more about the various styles and characteristics – how to spot an authentic bag and a fake.
But first, a taste of history………
Dooney & Bourke All Weather Leather Handbags
Dooney & Bourke started in 1975 when Peter Dooney & Frederic Bourke launched their namesake in South Norwalk, Connecticut. They started off with two notable introductory products: surcingle belts which were widely popular due to their unique, vibrant colors and stripes and classic suspenders, which experienced a surge in popularity thanks to the film “Chariots of Fire”.
In 1981 Dooney & Bourke branched out into the handbag business with the release of the Tack Case and the Equestrian Bag both made from bridle leather. Along with their original distributors such as Nordstrom, Brooks Brothers, and Saks Fifth Avenue, they opened The Company Store in Norwalk, Ct, which sold among other things, Dooney & Bourke Merchandise.
In 1983, with the development of their famous All-Weather Leather, the first AWL handbag collection was released featuring the unmistakable duck logo with the russet leather trim.
All-Weather Leather (AWL) is just like the name suggests – waterproof 100% cowhide – water sheds off these bags like it does off a duck’s back. The process of producing AWL is a secret but a big part of it is shrinking the leather so that the pores are sealed.
From the Dooney & Bourke catalog:
“The Essence of All-Weather Leather
The secret lies in the tanning process. First, our hides are soaked in curing tannin oils and laid out to dry. As the leather shrinks, its pores tighten and close – this creates a natural barrier to moisture. And gives All-Weather Leather its distinctive pebble-grain texture. The result is leather that’s soft and supple to the touch, yet virtually impervious to the elements. There’s no need to pamper it with wax or silicones. A simple solution of bar soap and water is sufficient to remove most dirt and water-soluble stains.”
AWL requires very minimal care – just wiping with a damp cloth. More difficult stains may be removed with water and a mild bar soap such as Ivory or saddle soap. Caution should be used with any creams for cleaning or conditioning as the oils in the creams could soften and open the pores, thereby defeating the specialized shrinking process which makes the leather waterproof.