Louis Vuitton: Wikis


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Louis Vuitton Malletier
Type Division of holding company (LVMH)
Founded 1854
Founder(s) Louis Vuitton
Headquarters Paris, France
Key people Louis Vuitton, (Founder)
Bernard Arnault, (President)
Marc Jacobs, (Art Director)
Antoine Arnault, (Director of Communications)
Industry Retail
Products Luxury goods
Revenue $2.7 billion (2008)
Employees 13,700 (2007)
Parent LVMH
Website www.louisvuitton.com

Louis Vuitton Malletier — commonly referred to as Louis Vuitton (French: [lwi vɥitɔ̃], commonly Anglicized as /ˈluːi ˈvuːtɒ/), or shortened to LV — is an international luxury French fashion house specializing in trunks, leather goods, ready-to-wear, shoes, watches, jewellery, accessories, sunglasses, and books. Known the world over for its iconic LV monogram and logo, Louis Vuitton is one of the most recognizable brands in the world. A long time symbol of prestige and wealth, the company commands some of the highest prices in the international fashion market for its products.

Started in 1854, Louis Vuitton sells its products strictly through its own retail stores, small boutiques in high-end department stores, and online through its website. Louis Vuitton competes directly with such luxury brands as Versace, Bijan, Hermès, Gucci, Dolce & Gabbana, Burberry, Dior, Yves Saint Laurent, Chanel, Fendi, Armani, and Prada.



Prominent figures who have ordered Louis Vuitton luggage include Congo explorer Pierre Savorgnan de Brazza, who ordered a combined trunk and bed from the company, and American conductor Leopold Stokowski (for his travels), whose traveling secrétaire was designed by Gaston-Louis Vuitton.[1]


Biography of Louis Vuitton

Louis Vuitton (1821 – February 27, 1892),[2] eponymous founder of the company, was born in Jura, France (now part of the commune of Lavans-sur-Valouse). In 1835, he moved to Paris. The trip from his hometown to Paris was over 400 kilometers (249 mi), and he traveled the distance by foot. On his way there, he picked up a series of odd jobs to pay for his journey. There, he became an apprentice Layetier to prominent households.[1] Because of his well established reputation in his fields, Napoleon III of France appointed Vuitton as Layetier to his wife, Empress Eugénie de Montijo. Through his experience with French royalty, he developed expert knowledge of what made a good travelling case. It was then that he began to design his own luggage, setting the foundations for LV Co.[1]

1854 through 1892

Louis Vuitton: Malletier à Paris was founded by Monsieur Vuitton in 1853 on Rue Neuve des Capucines in Paris.[2] In 1858, Monsieur Vuitton introduced his flat-bottom trunks with trianon canvas (they were lightweight and airtight).[2] Before the introduction of Vuitton's trunks, rounded-top trunks were used, generally to promote water run off, and thus could not be stacked. It was Vuitton's gray Trianon canvas flat trunk that allowed the ability to stack for ease with voyages. Becoming successful and prestigious, many other luggagemakers began to imitate LV's style and design.[1]

In 1867, the company participated in the universal exhibition in Paris.[2] To protect against the duplication of his look, he changed the Trianon design to a beige and brown stripes design in 1876.[1] By 1885, the company opened its first store in London, England on Oxford Street.[2] Soon thereafter, due to the continuing imitation of his look, in 1888, the Damier Canvas pattern was created by Louis Vuitton, bearing a logo that reads "marque L. Vuitton déposée," which translates to "mark L. Vuitton deposited" or, roughly, "L. Vuitton trademark". In 1892, Louis Vuitton died, and the company's management passed to his son.[1][2]

1893 through 1936

After the death of his father, Georges Vuitton began a campaign to build the company into a worldwide corporation, exhibiting the company's products at the Chicago World's Fair in 1893. In 1896, the company launched the legendary Monogram Canvas and made the worldwide patents on it.[1][2] Its graphic symbols, including quatrefoils and flowers (as well as the LV monogram), were based on the trend of using Japanese and Oriental designs in the late Victorian era. The patents later proved to be successful in stopping counterfeiting. In this same year, Georges traveled to the United States, where he toured various cities (such as New York, Philadelphia, and Chicago), selling Vuitton products during the visit. In 1901, the Louis Vuitton Company introduced the Steamer Bag, a smaller piece of luggage designed to be kept inside Vuitton luggage trunks.

By 1913, the Louis Vuitton Building opened on the Champs-Elysees. It was the largest travel-goods store in the world at the time. Stores also opened in New York, Bombay, Washington, London, Alexandria, and Buenos Aires as World War I began. Afterwards, in 1930, the Keepall bag was introduced. During 1932, LV introduced the Noé bag. This bag was originally made for champagne vintners to transport bottles. Soon thereafter, the Louis Vuitton Speedy bag was introduced (both are still manufactured today).[2] In 1936 Georges Vuitton died, and his son, Gaston-Louis Vuitton, assumed control of the company.[2] [2]

1936 through 2000

During this period, the look of the leather was utilized in everything from small purses and wallets to larger pieces of luggage. In order to broaden its line, the company revamped its signature Monogram Canvas in 1959[2] to make it more supple, allowing it to be used for purses, bags, and wallets. Audrey Hepburn is seen carrying the bag in the film Charade (1963). It is believed that in the 1960s, counterfeiting returned as a greater issue to continue on into the 21st century.[1] In 1966, the Papillon was launched (a cylindrical bag that is still popular today). By 1977 with annual revenue up to 70 million Francs ($10 million USD).[2] A year later (1978), it opened the first stores in Japan (in Tokyo and Osaka). In 1983, the company joined with America's Cup to form the Louis Vuitton Cup, a preliminary competition (known as an eliminatory regatta) for the yacht race. Louis Vuitton later expanded its presence in Asia with the opening of a store in Taipei, Taiwan in 1983 and Seoul, South Korea in 1984. In the following year (1985), the Epi leather line was introduced.[2]

1987 witnessed the creation of LVMH.[2] Moët et Chandon and Hennessy, leading manufacturers of champagne and cognac, (respectively) merged with Louis Vuitton to form the luxury goods conglomerate. Profits for 1988 are reported to have been up by 49% more than in 1987. By 1989, Louis Vuitton came to operate 130 stores worldwide.[2] Entering the 1990s, Yves Carcelle was named president of LV, and in 1992, his brand opened its first Chinese location at the Palace Hotel in Beijing. Further more introduced products became the Taiga leather line (1993) and the literature collection of Voyager Avec... (1994). In 1996, the celebration of the Centennial of the Monogram Canvas was held in seven cities worldwide.[2]

After introducing its pen collection (1997), Louis Vuitton made Marc Jacobs alongside Jae its Art Directors (1998).[2] In March of the following year, they designed and introduced the company's first prêt-à-porter line of clothing for men and women. Also in this year, the Monogram Vernis line, the LV scrapbooks, and the Louis Vuitton City Guide were launched.[2] 1300 km from Dalian to Moscow, the first rally in China was held ("China Run") as well.[2] The last events in the 20th century were the release of the mini monogram line (1999), the opening of the first store in Africa in Marrakech, Morocco (2000), and finally the auction at the International Film Festival in Venice, Italy, where the vanity case "amfAR" designed by Sharon Stone was sold with the proceeds going to The Foundation for AIDS Research (also in 2000).[2]

2001 to present day

The store on Manhattan's Fifth Avenue.
A Louis Vuitton boutique in the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, in Milan, Italy.

By 2001, Stephen Sprouse, in collaboration with Marc Jacobs, designed a limited-edition line of Vuitton bags[2] that featured graffiti written over the monogram pattern. The graffiti read Louis Vuitton and as well, on certain bags, the name of the bag (such as Keepall and Speedy). Certain pieces, which featured the graffiti without the Monogram Canvas background, were only available on Louis Vuitton's V.I.P. customer list. Jacobs also created the charm bracelet, the first ever piece of jewelry from LV, within the same year.[2]

In 2002, the Tambour watch collection was introduced.[2] During this year, the LV building in Tokyo was opened, and the brand collaborated with Bob Wilson for its Christmas windows sceneography. In 2003, Takashi Murakami[2], in collaboration with Marc Jacobs, masterminded the new Monogram Multicolore canvas range of handbags and accessories. This range included the monograms of the standard Monogram Canvas, but in 33 different colors on either a white or black background. (The classic canvas features gold monograms on a brown background.) Murakami also created the Cherry Blossom pattern, in which smiling cartoon faces in the middle of pink and yellow flowers were sporadically placed atop the Monogram Canvas. This pattern appeared on a limited number of pieces. The production of this limited-edition run was discontinued in June 2003. Within 2003, the stores in Moscow, Russia and in New Delhi, India were opened, the Utah and Suhali leather lines were released, and the 20th anniversary of the LV Cup was held.[2]

Louis Vuitton situated on the famous Champs-Elysées.

In 2004, Louis Vuitton celebrated its 150th anniversary. The brand also inaugurated stores in New York City (on Fifth Avenue), São Paulo and Johannesburg. It also opened its first global store in Shanghai. By 2005, Louis Vuitton reopened its Champs-Élysées store (reputed to be the largest LV store in the world), and released the Speedy watch collection. In 2006, LV held the inauguration of the Espace Louis Vuitton on its 7th floor.[2]

In 2008, Louis Vuitton released the Damier Graphite canvas. The canvas features the classic Damier pattern but in black and grey, giving it a masculine look and urban feel.

Louis Vuitton is the most bought fashion label in the world to this day.

Louis Vuitton today

Advertising campaigns

Louis Vuitton store in Houston

The Louis Vuitton company carefully cultivates a celebrity following and has used famous models and actresses such as Jennifer Lopez and most recently Madonna in its marketing campaigns. Breaking from their usual traditions of employing supermodels and celebrities to advertise their products, on August 2, 2007, the company announced that the former USSR leader Mikhail Gorbachev would appear in an ad campaign along with Steffi Graf, Andre Agassi, and Catherine Deneuve. Many rappers, most notably Kanye West, have mentioned the company in certain songs.

The company commonly uses print ads in magazines and billboards in cosmopolitan cities. It previously relied on selected press for its advertising campaigns (frequently involving prestigious stars like Steffi Graf, Andre Agassi, Gisele Bündchen and Catherine Deneuve) shot by Annie Leibovitz. However, Antoine Arnault, director of the communication department, has recently decided to enter the world of television and cinema: The commercial (90 seconds) is exploring the theme "Where will life take you?" and is translated into 13 different languages. This is the first Vuitton commercial ad ever and was directed by renowned French director Bruno Aveillan.[3]


The store in Yekaterinburg (Russia)

Since the 19th century, manufacture of Louis Vuitton goods have not changed: Luggage is still made by hand.[4] Contemporary Fashion gives a preview of the creation of the LV trunks: "the craftsmen line up the leather and canvas, tapping in the tiny nails one by one and securing the five-letter solid pick-proof brass locks with an individual handmade key, designed to allow the traveler to have only one key for all of his or her luggage. The woven frames of each trunk are made of 30-year-old poplar that has been allowed to dry for at least four years. Each trunk has a serial number and can take up to 60 hours to make, and a suitcase as many as 15 hours."[4]

Many of the company's products utilize the signature brown Damier and Monogram Canvas materials, both of which were first used in the late 19th century. All of the company's products exhibit the eponymous LV initials. The company markets its product through its own stores located throughout the world, which allows it to control product quality and pricing. It also allows LV to prevent counterfeit products entering its distribution channels. Louis Vuitton has no discount sales nor does it have any duty-free stores. In addition, the company distributes its products exclusively through LouisVuitton.com.[4]


The Louis Vuitton Brand and the famous LV monogram are among the world's most valuable brands. According to a Millward Brown 2009 study, Louis Vuitton is the world's 29th most valuable brand, right after AT&T and before HSBC. The brand itself is estimated to be worth USD 19.395 billion.[5]


A genuine Louis Vuitton purse.

Louis Vuitton is one of the most counterfeited brands in the fashion world due to its image as a status symbol. Only a small fraction of products bearing the LV initials in the general population are authentic. Ironically, the signature Monogram Canvas was created to prevent counterfeiting.[6] In 2004, Louis Vuitton fakes accounted for 18% of counterfeit accessories seized in the European Union.[7]

The company takes counterfeiting seriously, and employs a team of lawyers and special investigation agencies, actively pursuing offenders through the courts worldwide, and allocating about half of its budget of communications to counteract piracy of its goods.[1] LVMH (Vuitton's parent company) further confirmed this by stating that "some 60 people at various levels of responsibility working full time on anti-counterfeiting in collaboration with a wide network of outside investigators and a team of lawyers."[8] In a further effort, the company closely controls the distribution of its products.[1] Until the 1980s, Vuitton products were widely sold in department stores (e.g. Neiman Marcus and Saks Fifth Avenue). Today, Vuitton products are primarily available at authentic Louis Vuitton boutiques,[1] with a small number of exceptions. These boutiques are commonly found in upscale shopping districts or inside luxury department stores. The boutiques within department stores operate independently from the department and have their own LV managers and employees. LV has recently launched an online store, through its main website, as an authorized channel to market its products.[9]

Controversy and disputes

Collaboration with Nazi Germany

The French book Louis Vuitton, une saga française (Louis Vuitton: A French Saga)[10]) tells how members of the Vuitton family actively aided the puppet government led by Marshal Philippe Pétain, increasing their wealth from their business affairs with the Nazis. The family set up a factory dedicated to producing artifacts glorifying Pétain, including more than 2,500 busts. Pétain's Vichy regime was responsible for the deportation of French Jews to German concentration camps.[11]

Caroline Babulle, a spokeswoman for the publisher (Fayard) said, "They [Louis Vuitton Co.] have not contested anything in the book, but they are trying to bury it by pretending it doesn't exist." Responding to the book's release in 2004, a spokesman for LVMH stated that "this is ancient history...The book covers a period when it was family-run and long before it became part of LVMH. We are diverse, tolerant and all the things a modern company should be." Another LVMH spokesman told the satirical magazine, Le Canard enchaîné, that "We don't deny the facts, but regrettably the author has exaggerated the Vichy episode." In an article published by L'express, France first weekly news magazine, Jacques Attali, then advisor to president François Mitterrand, described the book as a "remarkable enquiry" and a "must read".[12]

Louis Vuitton vs. Britney Spears video

On November 19, 2007 Louis Vuitton, in further efforts to prevent counterfeiting, successfully sued Britney Spears for violating counterfeiting laws. A part of the music video for the song "Do Somethin'" shows fingers tapping on the dashboard of a hot pink Hummer with what looks like Louis Vuitton's "Cherry Blossom" design bearing the LV logo. Britney Spears herself was not found guilty, but a civil court in Paris has ordered Sony BMG and MTV Online to stop showing the video. They were also fined €80,000 to each group. An anonymous spokesperson for LVMH stated that the video constituted an "attack" on Louis Vuitton's brands and its luxury image.[13]

Louis Vuitton vs. Darfur Charity

On February 13, 2007 Louis Vuitton sent a Cease and Desist order to artist Nadia Plesner for the "reproduction" of a bag that infringes Louis Vuitton's Intellectual Property Rights.[14] The reproduction referred to is a satirical illustration that depicts a malnutritioned child holding a designer dog and a designer bag. The illustration features on T-shirts and posters, with all profits going to the charity "Divest for Darfur". The artist defended her "Simple Living" campaign and her right to artistic freedom in a written response to Louis Vuitton on February 27, 2008, calling attention to the lack of the famous monogram, further asserting that the illustration refers to 'designer bags' in general, with no specific mention of the Louis Vuitton brand in either the illustration or any associated campaign material.[15] On April 15, 2008, Louis Vuitton notified Plesner of the lawsuit being brought against her. It has been reported that Louis Vuitton is demanding $7,500 (5,000 Euro) for each day Plesner continues to sell the Simple Living products, $7,500 for each day the original Cease and Desist letter is published on her website and $7,500 a day for using the name "Louis Vuitton" on her website. In addition, it is alleged that Louis Vuitton is demanding that the artist pays Louis Vuitton's legal costs, including $15,000 to cover additional expenses the company has incurred in protecting their intellectual property rights.[16] The contested image was removed from Plesner's website for an extended period. Although an alternative image is now used for Plesner's fundraising campaign, the original image has since reappeared and is featured prominently on the site.

New York Magazine reported, based on information provided by an LVMH spokeswoman, that Louis Vuitton attempted to stop the case from going to court, but that they were forced to take legal action when Plesner did not respond to their original request to remove the contested image, nor to the subsequent Cease and Desist order. According to the article, the LVMH spokeswoman also claimed that Plesner was attempting to conceal the lengths that LVMH went to in order to "prevent the lawsuit."[17] These claims did not align with Plesner's published response to the Cease and Desist order,[15] and the article has since been criticized for not allowing Plesner to respond to the claims made by LVMH, particularly as the magazine had been in contact with her only days earlier.[18]

In October 2008, Louis Vuitton declared that the company had dropped its lawsuit.[19]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Martin, Richard (1995). Contemporary fashion. London: St. James Press. pp. 750. ISBN 1-55862-173-3. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y "Timeline". Louis Vuitton. http://www.louisvuitton.com/web/flash/index.jsp;jsessionid=QEDUVBBTA0GZWCRBXUXFAHYKEG4RAUPU?buy=1&langue=en_US. Retrieved 2008-03-03. 
  3. ^ "Fashion Week Daily - Dispatch". http://www.fashionweekdaily.com/news/fullstory.sps?inewsid=52796. Retrieved 2008-03-04. 
  4. ^ a b c Martin, Richard (1995). Contemporary fashion. London: St. James Press. pp. 750. ISBN 1-55862-173-3. 
  5. ^ http://www.millwardbrown.com/Sites/Optimor/Media/Pdfs/en/BrandZ/BrandZ-2009-Report.pdf
  6. ^ "European trademarks vs. Google". http://www.iht.com/articles/2006/06/25/business/google.php. 
  7. ^ "Times Online: Special Report: Trying to stub out the fakes". http://business.timesonline.co.uk/tol/business/law/article673534.ece. 
  8. ^ "Special Report: Trying to stub out the fakes". http://business.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,8209-2220038,00.html. 
  9. ^ "Louis Vuitton: luxury leather luggage, French fashion designer". http://www.louisvuitton.com. Retrieved 2008-03-04. 
  10. ^ Bonvicini, Stéphanie (2004). Louis Vuitton, une saga française. Paris: Editions Fayard. ISBN 9782213618791. 
  11. ^ Willsher K (2004). "Louis Vuitton's links with Vichy regime exposed". The Guardian. http://www.guardian.co.uk/secondworldwar/story/0,14058,1230301,00.html. Retrieved 2008-11-29. 
  12. ^ Attali, Jacques (February 2, 2005). "Secrets de Maison" (in French). L'express. http://www.lexpress.fr/styles/mode-beaute/mode/secrets-de-maison_487119.html. Retrieved 2009-06-11. "Cette remarquable enquête nous fait plonger, pour le meilleur et pour le pire, dans les secrets étouffants de ces grandes familles françaises qui, pour survivre, ont pactisé avec le diable. Et qui, pour maintenir leur nom, n'ont pas hésité à prendre le risque de le salir. Il faut lire ce livre, non seulement pour les secrets qu'il révèle (un monogramme inspiré par un carreau de cuisine, une usine de bustes à Vichy...), mais aussi et surtout pour la mise en perspective des conditions de la naissance d'un empire devenu fascinant et universel." 
  13. ^ "Louis Vuitton Wins Spears Video Lawsuit". FOXNews (The Associated Press). 2007-11-20. http://www.foxnews.com/wires/2007Nov20/0,4670,FranceBritneyBan,00.html. Retrieved 2007-11-20. 
  14. ^ "Cease-and-Desist Order, February 13, 2008." (PDF). http://www.nadiaplesner.com/Website/LouisVuittonLetter.pdf. 
  15. ^ a b Nadia Plesner (February 22, 2008). "Answer to Louis Vuitton". http://www.nadiaplesner.com/Website/AnswerToLouisVuitton.pdf. 
  16. ^ "Louis Vuitton Sues Darfur Fundraiser, Techdirt, April 25, 2008.". http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20080425/114126947.shtml. 
  17. ^ "Louis Vuitton Tried to Prevent the Nadia Plesner Lawsuit, nymag, May 9, 2008.". http://nymag.com/daily/fashion/2008/05/louis_vuitton_tried_to_prevent.html. 
  18. ^ "Art Student Nadia Plesner's Giant Louis Vuitton Copyright Suit, NYMag, May 6, 2008.". http://nymag.com/daily/fashion/2008/05/art_student_nadia_pelsners_gia.html. 
  19. ^ Cecilie Back (October 27, 2008). "Franske hyklere" (in Danish). Ekstra Bladet. http://ekstrabladet.dk/nationen/article1075921.ece. 

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