As promised, I unleashed my inner Joanna Gaines and decided to showcase a repair project on the blog. At any given time, I’m usually working on restoring one or more items (since a lot of times, I have to do something and let it dry or wait a few days, etc.) – the current “disaster item” I’m trying to make pretty again is a Speedy 35. Unfortunately, my photos of when it arrived aren’t very good, so you’ll have to take my word on it – let’s get to work! (Sorry to disappoint anyone, there will be no shiplap in my restoration process)
(ps. not joking.)
One thing you may have noticed is that this blog definitely favors Louis Vuitton. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been drawn to the monogram pattern since I was a teenager but the reason is actually a little more practical: it’s really easy to get “pre-loved” Louis Vuitton items at an affordable piece, and – as you learned previously – this brand holds a decent resale value. Economically speaking, it makes more sense for me to purchase and refurbish a Louis Vuitton item than it does for something like Prada or Yves Saint Laurent. So while I do have a strong love for LV, my collection is more so because it’s practical for me to buy this brand specifically in comparison to other luxury brands.
Another thing I will say in regards to Louis Vuitton is that a lot of my items (including both ones in my personal collection and ones that I sell) come from Japan. Japan has some of the strictest counterfeit laws in the world. For individuals to sell luxury goods, they need to apply for & carry a license (!!!!) and face major penalties if they’re caught selling counterfeit items. There was also a major technology boom in Japan in the 1980s-1990s. During this time, luxury goods saw a huge spike in purchases there. To say that Japan has become oversaturated with these items would be putting it lightly – sellers are often listing these items at extremely cheap prices. (As a side note, I would like to add that Japanese sellers are some of the most polite ones I’ve ever encountered. A lot of them have phenomenal customer service and go above & beyond to answer all questions.)
(Japan regularly hosts preowned Louis Vuitton sales like this one above. Oversaturated in product might be an understatement)
When it comes to purchases, I intentionally seek out items that are very well worn or in need of repairs. This strategy has always worked out well for me. For the most part, I’m confident in repairing almost anything with a bag/shoe/item of clothing (the only things I won’t touch myself are watches and fine jewelry – though my local community college offers a class in watch repairs that I’ve been tempted to take!). All my skills are self-taught… and sometimes just trial-and-error! I believe if you stress too much over fixing something, you’re going to screw it up. These items are already pretty damaged – honestly, there’s very little I can do that will make it worse. With this mindset, restoration is a relaxing, but still creative, activity for me.
In regards to the Speedy 35, it came to me in bad shape. I knew that one leather tab was missing (fortunately it was ripped off cleanly) and there were some tears in the canvas. The handles looked to be in decent shape, though I knew they would benefit from some conditioning.
(Miley thought it was a lost cause and I might as well just make it a cat bed instead)
When it arrived, I realized this was a situation that was going to be a little tougher than I expected. The piping was exposed and hanging out of the bag on three of the four corners (I actually took this bag to Happy Hour with a friend shortly after it arrived – since I didn’t think the repairs would be too difficult and it looked like it was in good shape – and discovered this fact once we sat down. She can attest that my reaction was not thrilled).
(note: this is a total “nerd alert” but I’m curious if the factory/era that a bag comes from uses varying material for the piping – unless mine is completely stripped, which is possible – because I’ve seen the clear like mine and a few other colors)
If piping is exposed, you want it to be on one corner. Not three. Three was going to be an issue. However, this was something I was going to have to wait to handle – we had to address the canvas first.
Canvas ripping is pretty common amongst older bags. The good news is if you catch a tear early, it can be undetectable once repaired. For the tears on this bag, they were small and located in areas that weren’t major areas of structural support (yay!) – what I did was apply Easy Stitch to the area in between the split canvas. For the most part, this secured it. I might try using a stronger adhesive if it comes loose in the future.
For the piping, the good news was that nothing was split. So the issue became securing it back to the bag – which was going to be challenging as it was exposed and lacking a leather cover. I’m still not sure if I made the best decision (so you may not want to try this at home… I’ll report back in a few weeks with how this is holding up) but I impulsively grabbed a tube of Gorilla Glue and applied it to the underside of the exposed piping. Then I pressed it into the area left open from the piping on the bag.
My method seems to have been a good amateur fix – but in hindsight, I should have planned it more. If nothing else, I should have filled the bag completely so it would have had a shape to maintain, rather than the classic “Speedy floppiness” when it’s empty. As a result, one side isn’t completely structured into the piping lines. It’s still totally functional – and I might be able to fix it a little more – but it’s not ideal.
While this bag isn’t finished yet, it’s already in much better shape than when I started. I’ll keep you updated on its progress as I continue to repair it. At moment, I’m planning on keeping it for personal use as the size is pretty nice but that could obviously change in the future.
So to anyone that says “I love Louis Vuitton but could never afford one,” – let’s do the math. A brand new Speedy 35 would cost me $990. This one was available for under $100 (I’m not counting the costs of the materials used – you probably have most of them around your house or total cost would be under $20). Being able to save over $900 is totally worth putting in some elbow-grease, in my opinion. And as an added bonus is if I choose to sell this bag later on, I’ll definitely make a profit.
As I said, I’ll keep you updated on this bag. I’m hoping to make this type of post a regular series – I’m already hunting around online for damaged shoes and clothing. I will be doing a post on leather care in the future too, using my Speedy 25 (you saw it here – the handles are in desperate need of conditioning). If there’s anything you’d like to learn about restoring items, please let me know! I’m more than happy to share my knowledge.