Things come and go in New York, always something new and shiny around the corner. So when a place has been around for some 90 years, you can be absolutely positively sure it's the real deal.
Artbag is a fashion landmark. Everyone from First Ladies and style icons to celebrities and high society doyennes have trusted them to repair, restore, refinish and clean their most prized accessories. Hermès, Chanel, Louis Vuitton - they've fixed it all.
I mean, if this place was good enough for Jackie Kennedy!
When Donald Moore became the sole owner of Artbag back in 1993, the handbag restoration boutique was the only Black-owned business on the upscale retail stretch of Madison Avenue. Almost thirty years later and it still is.
Donald began working at the shop in 1959 as a porter, eventually learning the tricks of the trade, becoming a partner, and then buying out the whole business.
Today, it's a family affair, joined by his son Chris Moore. Having grown up around the shop, Chris has a brilliant pairing of expert experience and a fresh perspective, his sights set on evolving the Artbag experience. For instance, with so many shoe repair stores having closed due to the pandemic, Chris is looking to fill that void. Of course, with all of the extra pieces coming in, they'll need to make some room in the shop. Lucky for all of us, that means they're holding a major store-wide sale of up to 50% off all their designer and house brand bags!
Curious what it's like working on everything from a $200,000 Hermes to a $50 sentimental hand-me-down? We caught up with Chris to talk everything from how to really take care of your bag, to breaking it to a woman she's got a fake!
Your family has such a long, rich history at Artbag - how was it stepping into that legacy?
It seems like it was a natural progression. My dad has always been my best friend so it was an easy fit.
Did you always know that you would work in the bag business?
After graduating from college, I intended on becoming a franchisee for Dominos Pizza. Going in the handbag business was the furthest thing from my mind.
However, I always knew there was a chance I could step into the family business.
What's the biggest lesson you've learned from working with your father?
To create relationships with customers rather than make a quick sale.
What are the bags you see most often brought in to be repaired?
I see a ton of Chanel bags for repair. This is because of the exploding value in the resale market.
What's one thing we should all be doing to take better care of our bags?
Don't hang your bags, as it causes undue stress, leading to stretched or torn handles. The bag should be stuffed and stored away. If you see something going wrong with the bag (stitches, heavy wear) take care of the small issue before it becomes too big.
What's the craziest story you've heard on how someone destroyed their bag?
An ex-boyfriend of a client wrote 'F**k You' with a black sharpie on an orange Hermes Birkin bag. Luckily, we were able to rectify the issue.
In your professional opinion, which designers have the best quality bags that are worth the price tag?
In my experience, the LV coated canvas bags tend to hold up well.
Where do you look for inspiration in designing your own private label?
I rely on my customers. They often give feedback on our designs and models of other manufacturers, and I make modifications I believe will work for our clientele.
What does the process of working with you to design a custom bag look like?
The customer should have an idea of what they would like made. If not, I provide sketches based on their expectations. If necessary, I can make a "dummy" bag to make sure we have addressed all concerns.
Is there any type of damage you can't repair or bring back to life?
I can't repair color transfer on patent leather.
Have you ever had anyone ever bring in a fake that they didn't know was fake?
Absolutely. The one situation that stands out is when a customer brought in a Kelly bag and asked me if it was real. I informed her that the bag was not real, and she left the store upset based on what I told her. She said that I did not know what I was talking about and took the bag to Hermes to be authenticated. A half-hour later, she returned to the store and apologized for her conduct, and left the bag for repair.
What are you most excited for next?
Growing our online presence with our repair services and newly implemented shoe repair service.