Louis Vuitton is a name that is not a stranger in the fashion industry, in fact its not a stranger to most people. The name Louis Vuitton is now a synonym for high quality fashion, mostly known for the handbags — although they also manufacture shoes and other items.
Louis Vuitton (born, August 4, 1821; died, February 27, 1892), future founder of his eponymous company, was born in Jura, France (now part of the commune of Lavans-sur-Valouse). In 1835, he moved to Paris. The trip from his hometown to Paris was over 400 kilometers (249 mi), and he travelled the distance by foot. On his way there, he picked up a series of odd jobs to pay for his journey. There, he became an apprentice Layetier to prominent households. Because of his well established reputation in his field, Napoleon III of France appointed Vuitton as Layetier to his wife, Empress Eugénie de Montijo. Through his experience with the French aristocracy, he developed expert knowledge of what made a good travelling case. It was then that he began to design his own luggage, setting the foundations for LV Co.
1854 through 1892
Louis Vuitton: Malletier à Paris was founded by Monsieur Vuitton in 1853 on Rue Neuve des Capucines in Paris In 1858, Monsieur Vuitton introduced his flat-bottom trunks with trianon canvas (they were lightweight and airtight). Before the introduction of Vuitton’s trunks, rounded-top trunks were used, generally to promote water run off, and thus could not be stacked. It was Vuitton’s gray Trianon canvas flat trunk that allowed the ability to stack for ease with voyages. Becoming successful and prestigious, many other luggagemakers began to imitate LV’s style and design.
In 1867, the company participated in the universal exhibition in Paris. To protect against the duplication of his look, he changed the Trianon design to a beige and brown stripes design in 1876.By 1885, the company opened its first store in London, England on Oxford Street. Soon thereafter, due to the continuing imitation of his look, in 1888, the Damier Canvas pattern was created by Louis Vuitton, bearing a logo that reads “marque L. Vuitton déposée,” which translates to “mark L. Vuitton deposited” or, roughly, “L. Vuitton trademark”. In 1892, Louis Vuitton died, and the company’s management passed to his son.
1893 through 1936
After the death of his father, Georges Vuitton began a campaign to build the company into a worldwide corporation, exhibiting the company’s products at the Chicago World’s Fair in 1893. In 1896, the company launched the legendary Monogram Canvas and made the worldwide patents on it. Its graphic symbols, including quatrefoils and flowers (as well as the LV monogram), were based on the trend of using Japanese and Oriental designs in the late Victorian era. The patents later prove to be successful in stopping counterfeiting. In this same year, Georges traveled to the United States, where he toured various cities (such as New York, Philadelphia, and Chicago), selling Vuitton products during the visit. In 1901, the Louis Vuitton Company introduced the Steamer Bag, a smaller piece of luggage designed to be kept inside Vuitton luggage trunks.
By 1914, the Louis Vuitton Building opened on the Champs-Elysees. It was the largest travel-goods store in the world at the time. Stores also opened in New York, Bombay, Washington, London, Alexandria, and Buenos Aires as World War I began. Afterwards, in 1930, the Keepall bag was introduced. During 1932, LV introduced the Noé bag. This bag was originally made for champagne vintners to transport bottles. Soon thereafter, the Louis Vuitton Speedy bag was introduced (both are still manufactured today). In 1936 Georges Vuitton passed away, and, his son, Gaston-Louis Vuitton, assumed control of the company.
1936 through 2000
See also: Louis Vuitton Cup, America’s Cup, and LVMH
During this period, the look of the leather was utilized in everything from small purses and wallets to larger pieces of luggage. In order to broaden its line, the company revamped its signature Monogram Canvas in 1959 to make it more supple, allowing it to be used for purses, bags, and wallets. Audrey Hepburn is seen carrying the bag in the film Charade (1963). It is believed that in the 1960s, counterfeiting returned as a greater issue to continue on into the 21st century. In 1966, the Papillon was launched (a cylindrical bag that is still popular today). By 1977, LV owned two stores, with annual revenue up to 70 million Francs ($10 million USD). A year later (1978), it opened the first stores in Japan (in Tokyo and Osaka). In 1983, the company joined with America’s Cup to form the Louis Vuitton Cup, a preliminary competition (known as an eliminatory regatta) for the yacht race. Louis Vuitton later expanded its presence in Asia with the opening of a store in Taipei, Taiwan in 1983 and Seoul, South Korea in 1984. In the following year (1985), the Epi leather line is introduced.
1987 witnessed the creation of LVMH. Moët et Chandon and Hennessy, leading manufacturers of champagne and brandy, (respectively) merged with Louis Vuitton to form the luxury goods conglomerate. Profits for 1988 are reported to be up by 49% more than in 1987. By 1989, Louis Vuitton came to operate 130 stores worldwide. Entering the 1990s, Yves Carcelle was proclaimed president of LV, and in 1992, his brand opened its first Chinese location at the Palace Hotel in Beijing. Further more introduced products became the Taiga leather line (1993) and the literature collection of Voyager Avec… (1994). In 1996, the celebration of the Centennial of the Monogram Cavas was held in seven cities worldwide.
After introducing its pen collection (1997), Louis Vuitton made Marc Jacobs along side Jae its Art Directors (1998). In March of the following year, they designed and introduced the company’s first prêt-à-porter line of clothing for men and women. Also in this year, the Monogram Vernis line, the LV scrapbooks, and the Louis Vuitton City Guide were launched. 1300 km from Dalian to Beijing, the first rally in China is held (“China Run”) as well. The last events in the 20th century were the release of the mini monogram line (1999), the opening of the first store in Africa in Marrakech, Morocco (2000), and finally the auction at the International Film Festival in Venice, Italy were the vanity case “amfAR” designed by Sharon Stone is sold with proceeds going to The Foundation for AIDS Research (also in 2000).
2001 to present day
The store on Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue.By 2001, Stephen Sprouse, in collaboration with Marc Jacobs, designed a limited-edition line of Vuitton bags that feature graffiti written over the monogram pattern. The graffiti reads Louis Vuitton and as well, on certain bags, the name of the bag (such as Keepall and Speedy). Certain pieces, which feature the graffiti without the Monogram Canvas background, are created and only available to the customers on Vuitton’s V.I.P. customer list. Jacobs also creates the charm bracelet, the first ever piece of jewelry from LV, within the same year.
In the year of 2002, the Tambour watch collection was introduced. During this year as well, the LV building in Tokyo is opened, and the brand collaborates with Bob Wilson for its Christmas windows sceneography. In 2003, Takashi Murakami, in collaboration with Marc Jacobs, masterminded the new Monogram Multicolore canvas range of handbags and accessories. This range includes the monograms of the standard Monogram Canvas, but in 33 different colors on either a white or black background. (The classic canvas features gold monograms on a brown background.) Murakami also created the Cherry Blossom pattern, in which smiling cartoon faces in the middle of pink and yellow flowers are sporadically placed atop the Monogram Canvas. This pattern appeared on a limited number of pieces. The production of this limited-edition run was discontinued in June 2003. Within 2003, the stores in Moscow, Russia and in New Delhi, India are opened. The Utah and Suhali leather lines are released, and the 20th anniversary of the LV Cup is held as well.
Louis Vuitton situated on the famous Champs-Elysées.Louis Vuitton celebrated its 150th anniversary in 2004 worldwide. In this year, the brand inaugurated stores in New York City (on Fifth Avenue), São Paulo and Johannesburg. It also opened its first global store in Shanghai. By 2005, Louis Vuitton reopened its Champs-Élysées store (reputed to be the largest LV store in the world), and release the Speedy watch collection. In 2006, LV held the inauguration of the Espace Louis Vuitton on its 7th floor.
The Louis Vuitton company carefully cultivates a celebrity following and has used famous models and actresses in its marketing campaigns. Breaking from their usual traditions of employing supermodels and celebrities to advertise their products, on August 2, 2007, the company announced that the former USSR leader Mikhail Gorbachev would appear in an ad campaign along with Steffi Graf, Andre Agassi, and Catherine Deneuve.
The company commonly uses print ads in magazines and billboards in cosmopolitan cities. It previously relied on selected press for its advertising campaigns (frequently involving prestigious stars like Steffi Graf, Andre Agassi, Gisele Bündchen and Catherine Deneuve) shot by Annie Leibovitz. However, Antoine Arnault, director of the communication department, has recently decided to enter the world of television and cinema: The commercial (90 seconds) is exploring the theme “Where will life take you?” and is translated into 13 different languages. This is the first Vuitton commercial ad ever and was directed by renowned French director Bruno Aveillan.
Since the 19th century, manufacture of Louis Vuitton goods have not changed: Luggage is still made by hand. Contemporary Fashion (edited by Richard Martin) gives a preview of the creation of the LV trunks: “the craftsmen line up the leather and canvas, tapping in the tiny nails one by one and securing the five-letter solid pick-proof brass locks with an individual handmade key, designed to allow the traveler to have only one key for all of his or her luggage. The woven frames of each trunk are made of 30-year-old poplar that has been allowed to dry for at least four years. Each trunk has a serial number and can take up to 60 hours to make, and a suitcase as many as 15 hours.”
The company manufactures and markets luxury leather goods, fashion accessories, prêt-à-porter, and jewelry. Many of the company’s products utilize the signature brown Damier and Monogram Canvas materials, both of which were first used in the late 19th century. All of the company’s products exhibit the eponymous LV initials. The company markets its product through its own stores throughout the world, which allows it to control product quality and pricing. It also allows LV to prevent counterfeit products entering its distribution channels. Louis Vuitton has no discount sales nor any duty-free stores. In addition, the company distributes its products through a single online retailer