Fascinating Louis Vuitton history That You Need to Know
Louis Vuitton. A name that resonates with iconic luxury. It’s no secret that Louis Vuitton is the world’s leading luxury goods brand today. Louis Vuitton’s history is rich with stories of dedication and unwavering willpower, spanning nearly two centuries. In this blog, we are going to share with you the legendary evolution of Louis Vuitton and how the brand became a global fashion powerhouse.
LOUIS VUITTON’S CURRENT STANDINGS
LVMH which stands for Louis Vuitton, Moët, and Hennessy, is the world’s foremost luxury and personal goods conglomerate. This global powerhouse is the reason why Louis Vuitton is so famous today. They sell an extensive array of products, spanning luxury leather goods, handbags, and ready-to-wear fashion under its Louis Vuitton label, as well as renowned wines and spirits through Moët and Hennessy.
Since 1989, LVMH has been run by the Frenchman Bernard Arnault, following the merger of this luxury goods titan with the esteemed champagne producer Moët & Chandon and renowned cognac manufacturer Hennessy. Together, the trio has infused fresh markets and segments further injecting growth into the industry.
Let’s look at some recent numbers. In 2022, Louis Vuitton became worth a mind-boggling value of approximately 124.3 billion U.S. dollars. Furthermore, when we look at where LVMH makes its money, The group’s global revenue distribution in 2022 revealed that the United States is the biggest contributor to sales at 37%, with Asia following at 20%, wherein Japan alone brings in an impressive 6% of the total revenue.
LVMH’s global presence is undeniable, boasting a network of 5,664 operational stores worldwide as of 2022, marking a remarkable jump from just 2,314 stores in 2008.
WHO WAS LOUIS VUITTON?
Louis Vuitton’s Humble Beginnings (1821-1854)
Louis Vuitton was the innovator and the designer who laid the foundation of the brand, Louis Vuitton. In 1821, he was born as the son of a farmer and a hat maker. The early years of Louis Vuitton’s history were marked by the tumultuous Napoleonic wars, leaving his family bankrupt. In 1835, when he was only 14, Louis Vuitton made a life-altering decision to move to Paris where he could work for a better future. Paris was the center of art and craftsmanship at the time. Over there, he learned fine handiwork from skilled artisans and started mastering working with metal, stones, fabrics, and wood.
The mid-19th century introduced the first railway line to Paris in the middle of industrialization. Louis soon realized that as society is evolving, so are its needs.
Recognizing the demand for trunks amongst travelers looking to safeguard their valuable possessions like paintings, instruments, and furniture, Louis began apprenticing for Monsieur Maréchal. His willingness to learn and dedication soon paid off. Louis Vuitton caught the attention of Eugenie De Montijo, the Empress of France, who appointed him as her personal box maker. Their collaboration for a year not only gained Louis recognition but also heightened the demand for his craftsmanship.
THE FIRST LOUIS VUITTON SHOP (1854-1867)
In 1854, Louis Vuitton decided to take his craft further. He opened his first shop and started experimenting with new materials for Louis Vuitton trunks. Eventually, he settled on canvas. Canvas was lighter, durable, and water-resistant, and its flat tops made stacking luggage on the trains easier.
Louis Vuitton’s designs and materials became ever-so-popular and the sales multiplied. People found the trunks to be durable, functional, and unique. The earliest Louis Vuitton designs can be seen featured in the Louis Vuitton House Gallery.
By 1867, Louis Vuitton’s Evolution marked his offerings to include handbags. The use of handbags was limited in the region until Louis made his move. His son, Georges Vuitton, joined his father, bringing fresh ideas. Georges’ famous invention of the tumbler lock revolutionized luggage security, preventing theft and burglaries. This locking system is still popular today.
THE FRANCO-PRUSSIAN WAR AND BEYOND (1870-1892)
The Franco-Prussian War in 1870 served as a testing time in Louis Vuitton’s history. His workshop was destroyed, and materials were stolen. However, when the war ended in 1871, Louis returned home, purchasing a shop in an upscale district. In mere months, his business thrived again. Louis Vuitton’s designs went international in 1885, with orders pouring in from around the world. Next, he opened a shop in London, and his work was embraced by royalty, including Ismail Pasha, Khedive of Egypt and Sudan, Alfonso XII, the king of Spain, and Alexei Nikolaevich, Tsarevich of Russia.
In 1892, Louis Vuitton introduced his first catalog, simplifying the ordering process. Tragically, Louis Vuitton passed away at 70, but his son, Georges quickly took over the legacy.
GEORGES’ INNOVATIONS AND LV MONOGRAM LOGO (1896-1946)
Georges helped Louis Vuitton establish an international sales network. In 1896, the first LV monogram was created in memory of Louis Vuitton. This marked the introduction of the beloved Louis Vuitton signature pattern including the iconic LVs, quatrefoils, and flowers. Georges and his son Gaston Vuitton also introduced new bag designs like the LV Keepall in 1930, LV Noé in 1932, and, with the help of Coco Chanel, LV The Alma in 1934. They further expanded sales internationally.
In 1970, Gaston’s son-in-law, Henry Racamier, took up the mantle. He introduced Louis Vuitton to the Asian market, particularly Japan. Within six years, Louis Vuitton’s sales soared from 20 million to 260 million dollars.
A GLOBAL LUXURY CONGLOMERATE (1970-Present)
Despite the rise of counterfeits, Henry continued expanding LV stores all over the world.
Louis Vuitton’s history soon saw the brand reach the milestone of 1 billion dollars in sales. The company merged with Moet Hennessy, a champagne and cognac producer, forming the luxury goods conglomerate LVMH in 1987.
In 1997, Marc Jacobs became the creative director for the label. Under his direction, LV hosted the iconic Vernis collection, the first-ever runway shows, and groundbreaking collaborations with artists like Stephen Sprouse and Takashi Murakami, reshaping the brand.
Louis Vuitton’s evolution saw the house expanding into watches, jewelry, and sunglasses, emphasizing in-house production. Craftsmen have to undergo rigorous two-year training to ensure the brand’s commitment to quality.
WHAT MAKES LOUIS VUITTON SO UNIQUE?
Throughout the illustrious history of Louis Vuitton, we learn how the brand emerged from a humble artisan’s workshop to a global symbol of luxury. This was achieved only due to the brand’s remarkable promise to stay true to its roots and create top-quality handmade products, a tradition rooted in the brand’s 167-year history. Louis Vuitton’s luxury designs are highly exclusive, available only through their own retail stores and official websites.
In the world of today, Louis Vuitton continues to make headlines as it dresses and accessorizes prominent figures. Brigitte Macron, the First Lady of France, adorned a Louis Vuitton gown for a state banquet at the Palace of Versailles only recently, symbolizing the brand’s enduring demand among royalty.