Recognized as one of the world’s most iconic fashion houses, Louis Vuitton, and its founder Louis Vuitton Malletier, creates and produces an expansive range of pret-a-porter, accessories, shoes, jewelry, watches, glasses, books, and more. Their standalone boutiques worldwide, high-end department store connections, innovative e-commerce site, and distinctive LV monogram are signature components of the Louis Vuitton brand, respected across the globe. Currently, the company has stores in over 50 countries and 460 stores worldwide.
Louis Vuitton was born in eastern France on August 4th, 1821 in Anchay, a town in the Jura region. Xavier Vuitton, his father, was a farmer; Corinne Gaillard, was his mother, a milliner. At the age of 10, Louis’ mother died and his father quickly remarried a strict woman that he didn’t get along with, causing him to run away at a young age. In the spring of 1835, when he was only 13 years old, a young Louis Vuitton traveled by foot to Paris, covering nearly 300 miles before arriving at the capital. By then, it was 1837, and a now 16-year-old Louis had finally reached the destination he was determined to change his life and embark on a career. When he arrived, Paris was in the middle of The Industrial Revolution and his timing could not have been more perfect. The visual contradictions he experienced in Paris as a young man – from slums to palaces, regal galas and health crises – left an indelible mark and were featured in future creations.
At the age of 16, a young Louis Vuitton began an apprenticeship with respected box-maker Monsieur Marechal, a role that utilized his talents as a burgeoning creative force. In only a few short years, Vuitton became one of the most sought after box-makers among the fashionable and elite class. In 1853, confirmation of his popularity came in his appointment as the personal trunk-maker to the wife of Napoleon III, Empress Eugénie de Montijo. His designs were seen on royalty as she and Napoleon traveled between the Tuileres Palace and the Château de Saint-Cloud, with stops in many seaside resorts along the coast. Through this position, Vuitton was able to market his brand and attract the elites of the country along with his royal duties, eventually using the capital to launch his own box-making and packing atelier in 1854. From the moment he began business, Vuitton was successful, revolutionizing the design process and therefore increasing demand for his products. His business soon expanded to include a bigger workshop just outside of Paris. The Louis Vuitton bags became a signature piece for women, and soon he was taking personal orders from other royals and dignitaries, including Isma’il Pasha, the Khedive of Egypt. The Louis Vuitton rectangular trunks were considered the beginning of modern luggage, making them more convenient to ship by train or ship.
Even after the Franco-Prussian War in 1870-1871 threatened to destroy his thriving business, Vuitton managed to open another workshop in central Paris, increasing his already large clientele base and popularizing the brand’s classic boxes and bags. Over the next 20 years, Vuitton continued to solidify his brand as the most innovative in luxury luggage until his death on February, 27th, 1892, at 70 years of age.
The Louis Vuitton brand and image continues to set the tone for high-end, luxury apparel. According to every study, Louis Vuitton remains the most valuable brand in the luxury market. The company has expanded into the holding company LVMH, which includes other high-end luxury brands. Once the most dominant fashion force in the western world, the Louis Vuitton brand has further expanded into the Asian and South American markets, bringing their world class aesthetic to millions of new consumers. The release of their social media app Amble links celebrities and pop culture via video photographs, videos, and links.
- Louis Vuitton: The Birth of Modern Luxury Updated Edition
- Vuitton: A Biography of Louis Vuitton
- Louis Vuitton City Bags: A Natural History
Written by: Triston Brewer