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Vuitton, Louis

company luggage luxury lvmh

B. 1811

D. 1892

Birthplace: France

Louis Vuitton became an apprentice layetier (luggage packer), when he arrived in Paris in 1837. He became so proficient in his work that he became layetier to Empress Eugénie of France. In 1854 he founded a company to sell his well-designed luggage. Rounded top trunks were the norm during this period, but Vuitton sold flat-top trunks, which were easier to stack. To make his trunks distinctive, he covered them in a canvas called Trianon Grey.

Vuitton’s high-quality trunks were immediately successful, and they spawned many imitators. In an effort to thwart imitations, he changed the canvas design several times. In 1876 he adopted a beige and brown striped pattern, in 1888 he changed to the words “Marque deposée Louis Vuitton” woven into a checkerboard patterned canvas, and in 1896 his son patented the current design of the initials “LV” among stars and flowers. Knockoffs continue to be a problem for the company, and it combats the problem with a team of investigators and lawyers, who identify and prosecute offenders around the world.

Today, Louis Vuitton luggage is handmade using the same painstaking methods as it did in the nineteenth century. Tiny nails secure the leather and canvas of suitcases, and the poplar wood of the trunk frames is dried for four years. Fine leathers, like crocodile, ostrich, and lizard cover the luggage.

While maintaining its tradition of high quality, Louis Vuitton has updated its designs to reflect today’s luggage needs. It offers items like backpacks for everyday use. In 1996 it introduced special designs like totes and shoulder bags by Helmut Lang, Manolo Blahnik, and Romeo Gigli to celebrate the 100th anniversary of its trademark fabric.

In 1997 Louis Vuitton branched out and introduced men’s and women’s ready-to-wear clothing. Marc Jacobs was hired as artistic director in March 1997, and Jacobs has created youthful, yet conservative designs which appeal to a broad market. Although the clothes are understated, they have playful touches, and some items, like the motorcycle helmet embellished with the LV logo, are downright whimsical.

In the 1980s the company evolved into a luxury goods conglomerate. Henry Racamier, who had been chairman of the company since 1977, took the company public in 1986. Louis Vuitton merged with Moët-Hennessey (LVMH) in 1987, and Bernard Arnault bought up enough LVMH shares to gain leadership of the company. Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, the company purchased other luxury goods companies to become the largest luxury goods company in the world.

Today the company sells five main types of goods: champagne and fine wine, including Moët & Chandon and Veuve Cliquot; cognac and spirits, including Hennessey and Hines and Pelisson; perfumes and beauty products, Dior, Guerlain, and Givenchy; luggage and leather goods, Louis Vuitton; and other activities, such as designer clothes (including Givenchy, Kenzo, and Christian Lacroix couture) horticultural products, and the publication of economic newspapers. Luggage and leather goods made up 26 percent of the company’s 1998 sales, and other activities including designer clothes made up another 26 percent. The company operates more than 150 Louis Vuitton stores, two Paris department stores, thirty-two Guerlain shops, 180 duty free shops (DFS), and more than fifty Sephora stores.

In 2000 LVMH continued to build sales in U.S. markets, and it continued to expand by acquiring Emilio Pucci. While Louis Vuitton set the standard for finely produced luggage, LVMH has set the standard for fashion and luxury as big business. Just as Vuitton had to protect himself from copyists, LVMH must protect itself from the new luxury goods competitors that are following its model for success.

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about 6 years ago

Re: Inquiry of Shanghai Aoxuan Luggage Co., Ltd.

Dear Sir/Madam,

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International Sale Dept.


Shanghai Aoxuan Luggage Co., Ltd.

Add: 12-1, Xingshu RD, Xingta Industrial Park, Fengjing Town, Jinshan District, Shanghai, China.

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E-mail: ronghui.xu@top100prg.com

Website: http://www.shanghaiaoxuan.cn