Hoi Bo Wet Waxed Mini, 1 Year Update

Published Categorized as Made By Others, Made In Canada, Tracing Threads Shops

On the whole I think we’re too quick to review things. We tend to buy or make something and then fully assess its value days later after minimal use. We review things before we know and experience how they wear over time. If I’m going to invest in something, like a handbag, I care less about how it looks when I buy it and more about how it looks a year on. If I intend to use it for years to come I’d like to know it’s built for that. Similarly, when you sew a dress, it might look great freshly ironed but how does it feel after you’ve been wearing it in scorching heat for 8 hours?

When I shop or make, I usually have function and longevity in mind. SO, I’m going to start posting updates of things I’ve purchased or made to show how they’ve worn. I think it’s only after continuous use that you can truly appreciate the craftsmanship and quality (or lack thereof) in a piece. I’m really interested in how materials interact and change over time and I think this kind of ‘delayed review’ might also be more valuable to you, the reader.

I bought myself this Hoi Bo Wet Wax Mini just over a year ago (see original post here). I’d been following Sarra’s work for a while and wanted to invest in a great everyday handbag. Just big enough to fit my essentials (camera/water bottle), a bag I could dress up or down, and something I didn’t have to be gentle with. A bag I could use.

I feel like I have run this bag into the ground in the last year, as it’s what I use probably 90% of the time and I’m not careful with it. This is what it looks like a year on and after one cleaning. You can take your bag in every year to be cleaned and freshened up, which I think reflects confidence in their work. Sarra spends a lot of time testing each of her designs to ensure durability and longevity – no detail is accidental.

I chose the black oiled cotton canvas, knowing it would fade with time due to things like sun exposure. You can see how the front and top have become lighter while the back has remained dark and shiny. The part that stays close to my body (the back) remains unchanged because it’s shielded from the elements and your body heat melts the oil on the canvas. To try and reduce the fading you can actually blow it out with a hair dryer, but that won’t undo all the fading you see here. This is pretty much the ‘best’ it’s going to look. Perhaps it would look less grey if I had taken the time to regularly blow it out?

Here again, you can see the fading. It marks somewhat easily when scratched, but those blemishes fade away quickly. If you bought this bag expecting it to remain the same you would be disappointed. Part of its beauty is how it changes with you. I must admit as much as I like the fading I do love the original polished look and I’m interested (almost nervous?) to see how it will look five years on. It would also be neat to see how the other colours, like grey, fade over time.

The leather and brass have worn beautifully. I find many companies skimp when it comes to hardware because consumers don’t know the difference when buying, meaning you wind up with chipped or discoloured buckles in two months. I so appreciate the solid brass hardware used here. The leathers unmarked and become richer, and the inside of the strap didn’t absorb much colour transfer from dark clothes.

The bottom shows wear along the seams and pleats. I just noticed this one worn area while writing and snapped a picture. On the back side along the crease of one of the pleats I can see some abrasion. This isn’t something I’m worried about as it’s a thick canvas, but I will keep an eye on it and take it in if it changes.

Next on my Hoi Bo wish list is pretty much anything in kangaroo leather… SWOON.


  1. Great idea to do a ‘how’s it wearing’ feature. I’ve done this a couple of times with my sewn garments as you’re right – often we are so excited to get that new thing snapped and blogged before we’ve really tested it. One thought on your bag – would using that Otter Wax product help to revive it? Thread Theory did a blog post about it a while ago…

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *