Wear It Down

A while back I gave Nick Maggio one of the bags I made with the gents from Billykirk as a thank you for Nick’s help on a project I had going. Nick is generally pretty darn helpful with stuff and this bag could never have totally conveyed my eternal debt to him, but it was a good start. After Nick received the bag he told me he was gonna wash it and fuck it up a bit – something that definitely sounded intriguing. A few weeks later I followed-up to see how things turned out. Was it a success or did he really fuck things up?

Again being the kind soul that he is, Nick even did me the favor of documenting his distressing process with the below text and photos. Thanks Nick. Though I have to say that I want to break a briefcase in the slow way, but I think Nick’s bag turned out great.

The Maggio Bag Distress Proceedure:

First I put the bag through my super-duper secret distress technique of kicking the shit out of it in my back yard. Literally… kicking the shit out of it all around the backyard. Then threw it in the washer with a little Woolite and a couple cap fulls of bleach. Finished it off in the dryer with a couple dry towels and a few dryer sheets. Came out soft, 4-5 shades lighter and the leather is soft with highs and lows in the color. Used it this weekend to run out of town.

There you have it, ten years of wear condensed into an afternoon of shit-kicking and washing in Nick’s backyard.

Comments on “Wear It Down

    jim on November 28, 2010 6:29 PM:

    This confuses me. Why would anyone want to lower the lifespan of a billykirk bag?

    Also, isn’t this like buying your jeans already distressed? I always thought you had to earn your patina, not manufacture it.

    Michael Williams on November 28, 2010 6:41 PM:

    To each their own Jim.

    Rich on November 28, 2010 7:00 PM:

    I can’t imagine anyone is going to be following his lead with that one. It doesn’t look worn, it looks like it wasn’t made well – or its a defect from TJ Maxx.

    Michael, you can like the guy and still admit you think he ruined a good bag.

    DKC on November 28, 2010 7:03 PM:

    Is there any project I can help you out with to get one of those bags?

    AEV on November 28, 2010 7:05 PM:

    Why not “wear it down” simply by using it? I don’t get it…..

    kat on November 28, 2010 7:20 PM:

    it’s perfect. I love it.

    Luke on November 28, 2010 7:32 PM:

    This seems quite similar to buying pre-torn Guess jeans. Though to be fair, if Mike’s friend didn’t damage the integrity of the bag, it’s hard to fault him for thinking “worn looks cooler”.

    Any hey, who’s got the time to commit to a bag for ten years when there are so many other great bags to buy?

    Tommy on November 28, 2010 7:41 PM:

    I think the bag turned out great. I do agree that it’s great to use items and let them age naturally but let’s be honest… things like this always look better worn out. If you know anything about their work, it would take many years to get a Billykirk bag to look like this naturally. Even with this amount of “weathering” that bag will still last forever. I can’t fault a guy for wanting it to look the way he wants from the start.

    adam on November 28, 2010 7:43 PM:

    umm…it doesn’t look well-aged and distressed. it looks like someone gave it to their dog and accidently threw it in the wash.

    Wesley Verhoeve on November 28, 2010 8:05 PM:

    I think he got great results. I’m not a fan of pre-worn jeans and such, but for bags, especially leather or canvas, I often feel less comfortable with ones that look too new than with ones that look worn. Totally legit to get them worn in a little bit and then naturally wear them after. Good work! Wish there was a backyard-ass-kicking video haha.

    ciclofish on November 28, 2010 8:42 PM:

    I have a RRL bag from 1994, it was slightly distressed when I got it. I’ve since had to overstich seams back together and add a couple patches to it. I never got as many compliments on that bag as I have since it became a rag doll.

    Anne Katzenbach on November 28, 2010 9:34 PM:

    More a fan of the tartan BKirk bags. Always look good. For my money, a canvas bag takes it’s beating in time, and gives you the love and look back. No speeding up of the process necessary, patience will give you the bag that you want. And the bragging rights to how long you’ve owned it.

    Nick sullivan on November 28, 2010 10:44 PM:

    There’s a story going the menswear rounds in the eighties of how Mick and Keef of the stones habitually handed over their new jeans to a couple of like sized roadies to wear for a month or so while on tour. Atfer several weeks of buses planes and riotous hotel rooms they were duly returned to their rightful owners with the newness well and truly rubbed off. Even Fred Astaire was reputed to throw his savile row suits against the wall of his apartment for an afternoon to knock the stiffness out of them. I don’t see why we shouldn’t allow ourselves the same pleasure. It is hardly the same as buying ripped Guess jeans…

    mike on November 28, 2010 10:46 PM:

    I predict that the next stage of usage will overtake the pre-wear and the world will settle back in to balance.

    Andrew M on November 28, 2010 11:37 PM:

    It’s amazing how some wear, distress, and shit-kicking can give something life.

    Travis on November 28, 2010 11:41 PM:

    NIck is the bomb and a good guy to boot. I like that he is not afraid to experiment with stuff like this. I think I recall Nick washing an Il Bisonte at some point and the results were outstanding. Good on ya both and keep up the great work.

    TMH on November 28, 2010 11:51 PM:

    I’m never comfortable with brand spanking new anything. Completely understand throwing it in the wash ( as I have with bags and baseball caps) the bleach scares me. I think that Mr. Maggio should be pleased with his work. Nice job. And thanks Mr. Sullivan for the Stones story. Totally believable.

    PatagoniaCommunity on November 28, 2010 11:55 PM:

    Personally, it’s not my approach but if he wants to experiment by giving it a whooping, then so be it. It’s actually kind of cool for the rest of us to get a peek at what an item might look like after heavy use.

    brad on November 29, 2010 1:23 AM:

    I concur with above thoughts that it ONLY made it look like the dude went out and bought a distressed bag..or just washed it. No canvas item would actually be that much lighter or look like that with USE.. if I only had access to my older filson bags to prove this point: they are DIRTY…not a single bleach line.

    Cedric B. on November 29, 2010 3:04 AM:

    It looks good so i guess I shall try it on one of my bags. I appreciate the very refine technic.

    GRIFFIN HAWKS on November 29, 2010 6:31 AM:

    I force Patina on Custom Knives regularly, it’s a beautiful effect .
    At least he’s not one of those guys that doesn’t wash his jeans for months to achieve some ‘fashionable’ look ..
    That’s just nasty .

    conan on November 29, 2010 7:15 AM:

    you cant cheat luuuv!

    Greg on November 29, 2010 8:35 AM:

    The leather looks exactly like brand-new leather that you threw in the wash; the canvas looks exactly like brand-new canvas that you wrinkled and stomped on for a while.

    I think the results look cheesy at the moment, but probably a few months of use will even things out as real wear evens out the artificial details. Shrinkage of the leather trim at a different rate from the shrinkage of the canvas is the worst outcome, IMO. But who am I to stop a grown man from messing up his own bag…?

    Jeremiah Simmons on November 29, 2010 8:41 AM:

    Forced patina is still patina. If one wants to expedite the process, go at it.

    wayne pate on November 29, 2010 9:00 AM:

    The bag just looks washed to me and not f* up. Then again I don’t know what the real expectations where. The leather for one is completely intact from the wash. Bring it over to my house and my three little ones will have that bag authentically worn in no time. Coming from a guy who pays to have all his jeans distressed in Japan these days, I shouldn’t be complaining.

    unitedstyle on November 29, 2010 10:12 AM:

    I remember buying new Vans Era shoes as a teen, putting them on the floor of my room, and repeatedly stepping on them with other shoes to break them in. After a few minutes, the Vans were ready to be worn.

    I would be interested to see a “before” picture of the bag just for comparison.

    Dave on November 29, 2010 10:32 AM:

    I dig the result. It makes the bag his own.

    A buddy told me that his dad used to bury his new jeans in the backyard and leave them there for a month or two, and launder them. After undergoing this procedure, they were beautifully soft and had a nice faded thing going.

    And Vans definitely look better after washing.

    Erik Jacobson on November 29, 2010 10:36 AM:

    Look at old Filson bags on Ebay. The wear patterns of those old bags look nothing like these.

    Istvan on November 29, 2010 10:39 AM:

    It belongs to him, and I’m sure he had a great time beating it up. But why mess up such a nice bag? I’m sure it wasn’t damaged in the process, but if I had a bag of that quality I’d treat it like a brand new car.

    DJOK on November 29, 2010 11:28 AM:

    This brings to light the irony of the embrace by the fashion world of heritage brands and styles. These products are/were made to be practical and last a lifetime, opposite values to fashion where novelty and style are more important. I hope that Filson, woolrich, red wings, etc are enjoying the moment but are ready for the inevitable turn in the fashion tide.

    Ed on November 29, 2010 12:32 PM:

    To each his own… aside from the irony factor and the possible ruination of a really nice, expensive bag, I think the biggest problem is that I just don’t like the way it looks. It doesn’t look like an authentic patina, it just looks abused… but it seems like the owner is happy with it, so more power to him.

    Brad on November 29, 2010 12:41 PM:

    I dig it.
    I’d buy this:
    before this:

    Noah on November 29, 2010 1:01 PM:

    I used to work for Steven Alan when he first started carrying Filson. The way he distinguished his Filson from everybody elses is that he applied a version of his shirt washing process to the bags. We couldn’t keep them in stock. They were soft, wrinkled, and imperfect, not unlike his shirts that we all love so dearly.

    I guess the moral of the story is, when done well,working your bag (or any other garment) over to soften it and break it in can look great and add a unique easy appearence. However, done poorly it can look contrived and forced. I agree that Nick’s bag rigth now looks a bit forced, but I also agree with those who said it will break in in a really interesting way from here on out. No matter what though, I always encourage people to make their personal items unique in a whatever way suits them best.

    Michael Williams on November 29, 2010 1:06 PM:

    Good comments from everyone — thanks! Also, here’s a small list of words that have been (in my opinion) over used in the last seven days: patina, black friday, cyber monday.

    Joe on November 29, 2010 1:27 PM:

    Seems to me Nick just had some fun kicking the crap out of the bag. Like Noah said, it’s his unique and personal way of making it his own.

    Rich.N on November 29, 2010 2:24 PM:

    I agree with everyone saying that the honest way to break in a bag is through practical wear and tear over the years but I don’t think anyone would be the wiser if they saw Nick in the street with this bag. He could easily lie about it and say he’s been rocking it everyday for X amount of time and you’d give him props for it. Thanks for the pointers Nick, I’m going home to do the same thing to some of my bags.

    Brett on November 29, 2010 2:43 PM:

    When I worked in the movie prop business, we used to put new clothing, bags, leather goods, etc., in a cement mixer with some gravel and sand and let it go for a few hours, or days, depending. That did a pretty good job of it. We also used chains if we didn’t want the stuff to get dirty.

    I prefer a natural “PATINA”. This often gets accelerated by my love of the item or garment, from using it more often.

    Joe on November 29, 2010 4:15 PM:

    Beat up bags are better because they have stories to tell. The inside of a washing machine isn’t a good story.

    I thought convenience was the enemy?

    Hoot on November 29, 2010 5:36 PM:

    this is a perfect example of “trying to hard”.



    kenyan on November 29, 2010 6:14 PM:

    I’m not one to hate …but next time send something like that over to me…


    Michael Williams on November 29, 2010 6:35 PM:

    Kenyan — email me your address.

    Sleeper on November 29, 2010 6:38 PM:

    it’s his bag, let him make it look how he wants

    BlueGoldBlues on November 29, 2010 7:55 PM:

    This has made me angry…

    It looks terrible, all the signs of “wear” are completely in the wrong places.

    Embarrassing stuff, go to an antiques market if you want a fucked up canvas bag.

    Just plain disrespectful sabotaging a $300 gift.

    VERY ungentlemanly. Get a grip.

    Alex on November 30, 2010 9:19 AM:

    I have thought about doing things like this before – sometimes things just either look too new or too fake. Here, I think you just ruined a perfectly good bag. It looked better before – you didn’t wear it in well – it would have been better to let it wear in naturally – i do, honestly, get what you were trying to do. I don’t mean to rub it in either – but you should have left it.

    Tad on November 30, 2010 7:21 PM:

    To each his own. However, my bullhide briefcase has 100% genuine beat-up marks from riding the elevated train to work and bouncing around in the back of my car. It’s still a little shiny but it works for me.

    Jeff on December 1, 2010 9:38 AM:

    He must not have a dog to be able to kick the shit out of his bag in his backyard, without getting dogshit all over it. Or maybe the Woolite cleaned it off.

    DmC on December 1, 2010 11:24 AM:

    When it comes to jeans or items of daily use I don’t often love something as much new as I do when it has a couple years of wear on it. The best way to imprint yourself on a pair of jeans is to wear them a lot for a long time without washing them. It’s not as disgusting as it sounds.

    Until recently I had never owned a new guitar. I am used to and prefer my guitars to have 30-40 years of wear, some of it mine. I like the way it looks. I wanted to buy a Strat and ended up looking at these distressed models that Fender makes with wear spots and dings on the finish and rusty hardware. I don’t have 30 years to break it in and it looks the way I want it to look. Whether or not I end up liking it as much as some of my others will have more to do with the way it performs.

    The phrase “I don’t get it.” is very passive aggressive. Of course you get it.

    Memo on December 1, 2010 5:21 PM:

    So many dudes getting angry about another man’s bag, ha!

    Chad on December 4, 2010 1:39 AM:


    And no offense to you, Mike, but the comments on ACL have deteriorated so far to be almost unreadable. Sometimes they’re helpful. Most of the time they’re like this bullshit.

    I know it shouldn’t, but it keeps me from coming around these parts as often as I used to.

    Too many “authenticity” queens.

    RyanZ on December 7, 2010 9:38 PM:

    Who rattled your cage? Is it necessary to disparage others for expressing their opinion, especially when it comes to a topic that is the cornerstone of this this site?

    Speaking of opinions, I think it is a bit contrived to artificially beat up and wear out an item that is meant to be beaten and worn out over a lifetime of good use. I guess that makes me a “queen.”

    RyanZ on December 7, 2010 10:44 PM:

    “The phrase “I don’t get it.” is very passive aggressive. Of course you get it.”

    I would have to disagree with you – some of us genuinely don’t get it. A radical analogy perhaps, but take for instance a fake Rolex. I don’t get it. The joy of owning a Rolex should be in the satisfaction and pride in possessing something of beauty and great craftsmanship, and thus being able to show it off. Making people think you have a real Rolex when it is fake in order to elicit feelings of wealth or status just seems so wrong, especially if it is for the self-esteem of the wearer.

    Personally speaking, the joy of owning something worn, because I’ve worn it, is where the satisfaction lies. In that it catches people’s attention is a worthy consequence, but not the main motivator in itself.

    My beat up Fender Telecaster is of personal pride to me. I have many cherished memories with it and it’s a member of my family. If I were ever lucky enough to get a used, beat up 51 Telecaster, I would cherish its heritage, history, and stories if it could speak. The appeal of an artificially ‘beat up’ guitar? I don’t get it (and I’m not being passive-aggressive). Then again, maybe I do get it, and I just don’t want to call you a narcissistic poser.

    mike g on December 9, 2010 11:18 AM:

    patina. definitely over-used….at least with regards to distressed clothing/accessories. Leave “patina” to discussions of furniture and architectural elements. The essence of a ‘patina’ is a surface either applied or developed naturally over time that provides protection from further corrosion/weathering. Throwing a canvas bag in the wash doesn’t fit this description, although I could see the word perhaps being appropriate for leather items.

    that being said, i’m not necessarily against an applied distressing to make something look/feel more comfortable and used. it just has to be done in the right way, with a thought to the narrative of how a garment or object actually ages. The designers at JCrew and Steven Alan seem to have a grasp of this….Diesel, G-Star Raw, Armani Exchange not so much.

    eric puestow on December 9, 2010 11:39 AM:

    nick maggio fucked my wife

    LEATHER DADDY on December 9, 2010 12:47 PM:

    some times you str8 bois jsut seeeeemmmm so desperate!
    why not just suck a cock?
    its much easier than what is going on with this bag!
    and fun too!

    Michael Williams on December 9, 2010 12:49 PM:

    Leather Daddy — thank you for that insight. You sound like a man that speaks from experience.

    LEATHER DADDY on December 9, 2010 12:50 PM:

    by the way mike g,
    diesel invented the faux distress….

    Oliver on December 9, 2010 1:08 PM:

    Leather Daddy, I’m pretty sure that forgers of paintings and documents are the real inventors of the faux distress.

    Dandux Himself on December 9, 2010 2:01 PM:

    I get this. I do the same thing with my new things. For example, I always distress my condoms before taking them out in public. I stretch them out and poke holes in them so they get that awesome worn-in look. Chicks dig that shit.

    Michael K on December 9, 2010 7:48 PM:

    I thought we were talking about a bag here….?

    DmC on December 9, 2010 8:17 PM:


    You did call me a narcissistic poser which means that you didn’t read or didn’t understand what I wrote. Lotta head cases around here. Won’t be checking in again.

    extrabobby on December 9, 2010 10:12 PM:

    Nick Maggio stole my Tide pen.

    Sean on December 13, 2010 3:23 PM:

    I know I’m “late to the party,” so to speak since this was posted last month, but if you have a chance to reply to this question I would really appreciate it! I was wondering if the whole process ended up actually cleaning the bag at all? I’d love to put my Filson briefcase in the washer because a pen exploded in it and then I spilled on the front, etc. Would woolite + a thorough washing be a good or bad idea?

Comments are closed.