Vintage Louis Vuitton Keepall 55b Restoration

A Keepall has been on my wishlist for quite a while. For weekends away, I was lugging around a small suitcase which seemed a bit too much for most trips. A Keepall looked perfect for my needs, but I definitely didn’t have the funds to buy one brand new!

As with most of my collection, I began browsing the preloved market. I love the look of vintage Louis Vuitton pieces with their thick, robust canvas and beautiful honey patina. I began where I always do, on the LV Facebook groups (read this post for more information on how I purchase preloved pieces on Facebook).

I kept an eye out for a few months, coming across Keepalls in varying conditions and price ranges. Size was another issue – having never seen one in real life, I wasn’t sure how big to go. I’d watched countless comparisons on YouTube and couldn’t decide between 50 and 55. I also really wanted a bandoulière version because I felt a strap would come in handy when the bag is heavy.

I was very close to buying a 55b for £415, but I wasn’t 100% happy with the condition (it had Chinese writing on the lining inside), and there was a bit of cracking on the vachetta. I held off and eventually came across a piece from January 1984 in much better condition – for £320! The only issue was, it didn’t come with a strap. However, the price was so good that I decided to go for it and look for a strap later.

It arrived exactly as described which I was pleased about. After seeing it in person, I knew immediately the things I wanted to do to clean it up…

The smell

Being a vintage piece from the 80s and not used in a long time, it was bound to have an old smell. Even before I opened the packaging, I could smell something foisty. I definitely didn’t want my clothes smelling like that, so this is the first thing I tackled.

I’d heard from various people that bicarbonate of soda is a great product for getting rid of smells. I picked some up from Wilkinsons, sprinkled a handful on a small plate and placed inside the Keepall. I closed the zip and left it for a couple of days. It worked really well, and although the bad smell had gone, it still didn’t smell ‘nice’. 

I got my hands on a Premium Freshener from Liquiproof* so I thought I’d give that a try. The scent is described as a blend of citrus botanicals, balanced by refreshing mint. It might need topping up every now and then but the initial spray has worked great and the Keepall now smells amazing!

The leather

I could tell the leather hadn’t been cleaning in a while, or maybe ever. The first thing I did was wipe over the canvas with a damp cloth, to see what dirt I could lift off the surface. Next, I decided to use my Handbag Clinic products for a deeper clean, alongside a soft cloth or sponge.

Handbag Clinic Leather Cleaner – I sprayed a bit of this onto a soft microfibre cloth and worked into the leather in a circular motion. I applied it to the canvas as well as the vachetta – don’t be alarmed if the vachetta goes a little darker on application. When it dries it will go back to how it was, just a lot cleaner!

Handbag Clinic Liquid Leather Protector – I applied this next, again spraying onto a microfibre cloth. I worked my way around the bag, one panel at a time, ensuring every surface is evenly coated for the best protection.

Handbag Clinic Leather Protection Cream – The final step was the cream. It is recommended to use sparingly for the best results so I applied a small amount to a cloth, and gently buffed it over the entire bag. This cream adds a protective barrier to the leather which repels stains and protects the surface from wear and tear.

You can pick up the Leather Care Kit and Fabric Care Kit separately. I purchased the Essentials Handbag Care Kit which contains both plus a really handy handbag hook – this kit would make a great gift too!

The hardware

Upon receiving the Keepall, I noticed that the zip looked a lot brighter compared to the rest of the hardware. I thought maybe it has been replaced at some point, just because it was so different to the D-rings and metal on the handles. I decided to pick up some Brasso from Wilkinsons to see if I could lift some of the tarnishing from the darker bits of metal.

I used some cotton pads and cotton buds for the smaller rivets. I tried to be careful and cover the leather as much as possible while applying the brasso. You definitely need to use a bit of elbow grease, but soon enough the tarnishing disappeared to reveal the shiny gold underneath.

I was SO impressed with how well the metal came out – it looks as good as new and matches the brightness of the zip!

Fabric protection

Now that my Keepall is all cleaned up, I want to make sure it is protected from any further damage. I sprayed some Handbag Clinic Fabric Protector (from the Fabric Care Kit) onto the lining of my bag, to prevent any day to day dirt and spillages.

Next on the list for my Keepall restoration is to find a bandoulière strap. I’m keeping an eye on the preloved market as I’d love the patina to match the vachetta on my bag. I’m also looking out for a dust bag, so it is protected when stored away, and lastly a luggage tag that I can hopefully get monogrammed with my initials!

If you’d like to watch the video version of my restoration, see below. And please subscribe to my YouTube channel for more videos on my luxury collection!

*Gifted product/affiliate link

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