Louis Vuitton is a brand that is instantly recognizable. Anyone who is anyone will be seen wearing it. The history behind this iconic brand is pretty straight forward, but it tells a true rags-to-riches story. A talented and hard-working man turned his passion into a career. The brand started out as a family company and then spread worldwide into the iconic brand that it is today. Even though the story itself is straightforward, Louis Vuitton himself had a work ethic and determination that most people today can only dream of having. It is the reason why Louis Vuitton is the brand that it is today, otherwise we may not have known about one of the world’s most beloved luxury brands.
Louis Vuitton Malletier was born on August 4th, 1821. He came from a long line of working class people. He was only 10 years old when his mother died, and his father soon followed. Not too many years after his parents’ death, Vuitton decided to leave home at the ripe old age of 13. He was headed for Paris and would travel from Anchay, France completely by foot. It was a long 283-mile journey. Along the way, he took odd jobs in order to survive. It took over two years, but at the age of 16, Vuitton made it to Paris.
Once Vuitton finally made it to Paris, he began an apprenticeship with Monsieur Marechal as a trunk maker. At the time, this was a very respectable job. The main mode of transportation at the time was horse-drawn carriages, boats, and trains, which could prove to be rough to one’s luggage. People who were taveling often looked to craftsman to pack and protect their objects.
Most trunks made at this time had rounded tops. This design was to help water roll off of the top, but it made them impossible to stack them and took up much unnecessary space. Louis Vuitton started making unique trunks that was light-weight with flat tops instead of round tops so that people could stack them. Vuitton got the idea from HJ Cave Osilite, who made his trunks with flat tops as well. This made traveling a lot more practical and just easier overall.
After much success as a trunk maker for 17 years, Vuitton decided to open up his own trunk shop in Paris. Vuitton’s trunks proved to be very popular and he eventually had to find a way to keep up with demand, so Vuitton opened up workshops and even a factory outside of Paris in the French countryside. This helped keep up with the demand of his trunks that were wanted from people all over the world.
One of Louis Vuitton’s most famous and unique products was the trunk bed. The purpose of the trunk-bed was so people could sleep while they were on a safari. It was also used by military officers during exploratory adventures. The bed-trunk was most famously used in by French explorer Pierre Savorgnan de Brazza in three of his exploratory missions. On his last mission, he had two of these trunk-beds adapted to exactly his size.
When Louis Vuitton passed away in 1892, his son Georges Vuitton took control of the company. He was set on a mission to make Louis Vuitton a world-wide company. He visited many cities in America trying to sell Louis Vuitton’s products to American companies. Gaston Louis Vuitton, his son also took part in the company in 1897. The brand continued to expand creating new bags and even launching three perfumes.
It is important to note that During World War II, like Coco Chanel, the Vuitton Family was accused of aiding the Nazi’s during German occupation over France. The Vuitton family used this opportunity to increase their wealth in exchange for business affairs with the German government. Unlike Coco Chanel, the Vuitton family didn’t suffer much backlash from their Nazi affairs, maybe because they have done such a good job covering it up in the past. Though in recent years, their Nazi collaboration has seemed to catch up with the company. In 2004, a spokesman referred to this as “ancient history” and claims to be a very “diverse” and tolerant company.
In 1945, right after world war II and France once again gained control of their country, the Louis
Vuitton company started to incorporate leather into their luggage and began producing other products such as hand bags and wallets. While the brand was becoming wildly popular, the company was facing major issue of people trying to copy to companies work. Georges Vuitton came up with a solution and created the companies iconic canvas monogram so no other brand at the time could try and copy their work. This is the pattern that we all know to be on a lot of Louis Vuitton products today that makes it instantly recognizable.
Since the very beginning of the Louis Vuitton company, it has mad massive strides. Today, the company has an estimated worth of 19 billion dollars. It went from being just a trunk shop in Paris to being one of the world’s most iconic luxury brands that sells not only trunks, but wallets, purses, clothing, and much more. It is also safe to say that Louis Vuitton is in no danger of going out of style any time soon. While a lot of us may think of their expensive designer handbags when we think of Louis Vuitton, keep in mind that they are actually known for their luggage. So, next time you think of buying new luggage, maybe the historical Louis Vuitton luggage is a good way to go