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The History of Louis Vuitton


Louis Vuitton is known for its monogram with a series of L’s and V’s. Many Japanese people also own bags and wallets. Did you know that Louis Vuitton was a trunk manufacturer when it was first founded? In this article, I will explain the history of Louis Vuitton from its inception to the present day.

Louis Vuitton’s Founding
“Louis Vuitton is a brand founded by Louis Vuitton, a French suitcase maker.
He left home at the age of 14 and went to Paris, where he worked as a trunk maker for 20 years. His skills were so refined that he received orders from the French royal family.
In 1854, he opened his own atelier. The company that Louis founded was originally a store specializing in travel bags.

Louis paid attention to the coming development of transportation. The main means of transportation at that time was horse-drawn carriages, but he thought that travel by boat and locomotive would increase. Instead of round trunks to be attached to horse-drawn carriages, he invented flat trunks that could be easily loaded. He also changed the material from leather to cotton, which was well received.
It was lighter and stronger than leather, but still easy to use. The material was so popular that even Napoleon III’s queen became enamored with it.

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Expansion of the business and Louis’ death

The company expanded in 1860, driven by public demand, and won a bronze medal at the 1967 World’s Fair, leading to a worldwide reputation. Its popularity spread so far that the then governor of Egypt and the czar of Russia ordered trunks from him.

Louis adopted the design technique of applying fabric over the trunk. Although it was easy to design, it resulted in the appearance of counterfeit products.
In 1872, he changed the fabric. The fabric was changed to beige and brown stripes, but this did not stop the copying. Nonetheless, business was booming.

At the suggestion of his son Georges, Louis came up with a new design. A checkerboard pattern on a beige and brown chessboard with the words “LOUIS VUITTON” engraved on it. This is the moment when the Toal Damier, which is still in the lineup today, was born. The trunks decorated with Damier won a gold medal at the 1989 exposition.

It is said that Japan had a great influence on the birth of Damier.
At that time, Japonism was in vogue in France. Japanese art attracted attention in the West and had a great influence on European art. Louis must have been fascinated by Japanese art, which had also fascinated Van Gogh.

In the meantime, Louis passed away in 1892. After that, Georges took full control of the company and steered its management.

Georges’ Strategy

Georges pushed Louis Vuitton to become a global company. He was aware of the need to expand globally, and in 1893, he exhibited his products at an exposition in Chicago. He also traveled to New York, Philadelphia and other American cities to sell his products.
In 1898, he participated in the Paris Auto Show, and in 1900, he became the head of the leather goods department at the Paris Exposition, a time when his activities to date were recognized.
In 1914, he opened a travel goods store on the Champs-Elysées. At the time, it was the largest travel goods store in the world. Fans poured in from all over the world, not just from France. This is how Georges expanded its business worldwide.

Georges also took measures against the counterfeit products that were circulating in the market. It was around this time that Damier imitations began to be sold. To counter the counterfeits, he introduced a new pattern.
He introduced a new pattern to counter the fakes, a monogram motif that combined the Louis Vuitton initials “LV” with stars and flowers. It is said that the Japanese family crest was used as a reference for this.
The elaborate pattern of the monogram was handmade by craftsmen and almost impossible to copy. Thus, Georges eliminated fakes from the market.

Louis Vuitton’s expansion into Japan

Louis Vuitton opened its first store in Japan in 1978. It was the company’s first store in the world. A total of six stores were opened in Tokyo and Osaka. Louis Vuitton’s entry into the Japanese market was during the bubble economy. Owning a brand name product became a status symbol, and many Japanese were looking for high brand products.

In the 1970s, Louis Vuitton products were selling for about three times the list price in Japan. Parallel importers, who targeted those who could not afford to buy in Japanese stores, were profiting, and the stores in France were lined with a large number of Japanese.
The management of Louis Vuitton was surprised by this situation and commissioned an external market research to find out the reason. The person in charge was Goujiro Hata, the future president of Louis Vuitton Japan.
He found the following after his research

Louis Vuitton is popular in Japan, but the distributors have a high unit price policy.
Parallel importers are running amok and raking in the dough.

In order to improve the current situation in Japan, Louis Vuitton started up. “In order to improve the current situation in Japan, Louis Vuitton established a Japanese branch based on the strategy that “when you enter the Japanese market, you need to manage everything from distribution to sales. In 1981, Louis Vuitton Japan K.K. was established.
In 1981, he established Louis Vuitton Japan K.K. and opened a directly managed store in Ginza. The company also established a style of importing products directly from its headquarters and supplying them to Japan.

The connection between Japanese people and Louis Vuitton is so deep that there is a rumor that Japan accounted for half of the sales. Incidentally, the first Japanese person to buy a Louis Vuitton trunk was Itagaki Taisuke. This is evident from the fact that his name is on the customer list. The trunks have now been donated to the Cultural Museum of Kochi Prefecture.

In 2010, the Louis Vuitton Maison opened in Kobe. The Maison was designed based on the concept of “a flagship store that contains the cultural elements of the region. The Maison is currently expanding to Paris and other cities around the world. Kobe is the ninth maison to open.
The exterior is a fusion of Japanese culture and Louis Vuitton design. The exterior is a fusion of Japanese culture and Louis Vuitton’s design, using glass with Monogram motifs to represent the traditional Japanese lattice pattern.

The maison will also open in 2020 in Midosuji, Osaka. It is characterized by its appearance like a sailing ship. It will have a restaurant and a cafe. This is a world first for Louis Vuitton.

Current Louis Vuitton
Marc Jacobs became a designer in 1988. In 1988, Marc Jacobs took over as designer and created a line called “Vernis” which became very popular. Vernis is the French word for enamel.
It’s also the name of the Monogram Vernis, because it has a monogram on it. The luster of the enamel and the original color design attracted a different target audience.
It was also around this time that the company merged with Moet Hennessy, a champagne manufacturer. Thus was born one of the world’s largest brand companies, LVMH.

Louis Vuitton has also been active in collaborating with world famous artists and designers. Among Japanese, it has collaborated with Yayoi Kusama and Takashi Murakami.
Murakami designed a Monogram bag using 33 colors, which became a sensation.

Urban legend
Louis Vuitton’s trunks are light enough to float on water and durable enough to last. This is the first time I’ve ever seen such a bag.

If you’re looking for a Louis Vuitton bag, you’re going to need a Louis Vuitton bag.
The Louis Vuitton bag is the most popular Louis Vuitton bag in the world.

This is a story. There is no official record of this, so it has become an urban legend. Such stories exist because of the high quality of the trunks.

Louis Vuitton was initially a trunk manufacturer. For more than 150 years since its founding, it has been loved by fans all over the world. The secret to its popularity is the fact that it has maintained a long-lasting tradition. We have not forgotten to make efforts to keep the value of our brand intact by using our own distribution channels.
Louis Vuitton has adopted a method of product development that prioritizes craftsmen and designers, and you can feel Louis Vuitton’s commitment to quality.
Louis Vuitton’s products are made by craftsmen who protect the tradition and designers who create new expressions. Louis Vuitton will continue to lead the brand world through friendly rivalry with each other.

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