Louis Vuitton (born August 4, 1821, died February 27, 1892) was a luggage-maker and luggage-designer in Paris in the mid-late 1800's. More than a century later, Vuitton's handbags and luggage are now a status symbol around the world and are often looked to in the world of fashion. The Louis Vuitton "LV" Monogram design can be considered the very first "designer label" on a product (first in the contemporary sense), as it was created in 1896 with the intent of preventing counterfeiting.
Vuitton was born in Cons-le-Sannier, France. He moved from his hometown of Anchay, Jura, France in 1835 at the age of fourteen. Two years later, he arrived in Paris and started working as an apprentice for trunk-maker and packing-case-maker Monsieur Marechal.
The Louis Vuitton Company
Early Days (1854-1892)
When Vuitton opened his first store in Paris in 1854, he began by selling flat-topped trunks that were lightweight and airtight, and were bought by France's Empress Eugénie in its first year of sale. His first piece was the grey Trianon canvas flat trunk. Vuitton was the first trunk-maker to create a flat-topped trunk or an airtight trunk. (All trunks before this had rounded tops for water to run off, and thus could not be stacked.) Surprisingly, the Monogram Canvas design was not created until after Louis Vuitton's death; it was created by his son, Georges.
1854 - Vuitton opened his first store in Paris on Rue Nueve des Capucines, founding Louis Vuitton Malletier ("Louis Vuitton Trunk-Maker").
1860 - Vuitton opened a larger factory in Asnières-sur-Seine to accommodate increased demand.
1867 - Vuitton entered the Universal Exhibition at the World's Fair in Paris, winning the bronze medal.
1872 - Creation of the red and beige striped canvas
1876 - Creation of the wardrobe trunk, which contained a rail and small drawers for storing clothing.
1880 - Georges gets married and (on the same day) is given control of the business.
1883 - Georges' son Gaston-Louis is born.
1885 - The first Louis Vuitton store in London opens.
1888 - The Damier Canvas pattern is created by Louis Vuitton in collaboration with Georges, and bears a logo that reads "marquee L. Vuitton déposée" (which literally means "mark L. Vuitton deposited" or roughly "L. Vuitton trademark").
1889 - Vuitton wins the gold medal at the World's Fair in Paris.
1892 - Vuitton dies; the Vuitton company begins selling handbags.
Golden Age of Louis Vuitton (1893-1936)
After Vuitton's death, Georges made Louis Vuitton a worldwide corporation.
1893 - Georges displays Vuitton products at the World's Fair in Chicago.
1894 - Georges publishes his book "Le Voyage".
1896 - Georges designs the 'Monogram Canvas' (shown to the right). It came to be called 'Monogram Canvas;' its graphic symbols were based on the trend for Japanese/oriental designs in the late Victorian Period. This can be considered the first "designer logo", since Georges was driven to create this pattern to prevent further copying of Vuitton patterns (counterfeiting had already begun by this point). Georges then sailed to the United States, in which he toured various cities such as New York, Philadelphia, and Chicago. He sold Vuitton products during the visit.
1899 - Georges exhibited Vuitton products at the maiden Paris Auto Show.
1900 - Georges Vuitton was given the honor to set up the "Travel Items and Leather Goods" section of the 1900 Paris World Fair. 1901 - the Louis Vuitton Company introduced the 'Steamer Bag', a small handbag to be kept inside Vuitton luggage trunks. 1904 - Georges chaired the jury for the St. Louis World Fair. In the same year, the Louis Vuitton company introduced a new line of trunks that have special compartments for items such as perfumes, clothing, and other goods.
1906 - Georges' son Gaston-Louis married Renee Versille and Louis Vuitton introduces trunks for automobiles.
1914 - The Louis Vuitton Building opens in Champs-Elysees. The building was the largest travel-goods store in the world at that time. Store locations open in New York, Bombay, Washington, London, Alexandria and Buenos Aires as World War I begins.
1924 - Only eight years after the end of World War I, the 'Keepall' is invented. This bag foreran the duffel bag in a travel bag for light travel to keep necessities in.
1929 - The seventy-fifth anniversary of Louis Vuitton, a toiletry case is introduced specifically for opera singer Marthe Chenal. It could fit bottles, brushes, mirrors, powder boxes and more toiletries.
1931 - Louis Vuitton introduced exotic bags such as a handbag of crocodile skin, as well as elephant hide handbags for the Colonial Exhibition.
1932 - Louis Vuitton introduced the N
e bag. This bag was made for champagne vinter to transport bottles.
1933 - The Louis Vuitton Speedy bag was introduced.
1936 - The golden age of Louis Vuitton ends as Georges Vuitton passes away. Estimates attribute Georges Vuitton with over 700 new Vuitton designs. Gaston-Louis Vuitton assumes control of the company. The secretary trunk is introduced for Leopold Stokowski, a conductor.
Corporate Age of Louis Vuitton (1937 - Present Day)
1946 - Louis Vuitton decides to go toward other industries instead of laying off workers in the post-war situation.
1951 - Louis Vuitton supplies all the travel items for President Auriol of France's tour of America after World War II.
1959 - New innovations in the treatment of canvas allow more bags to be made, and Louis Vuitton releases a set of Monogram canvas bags.
1959 to 1965 - 25 new models of travel items were introduced each year; a total of 175 new travel items introduced.
1968 - A Louis Vuitton sales office opens in Tokyo, Japan.
1969 - Gaston-Louis Vuitton dies.
1977 - The Louis Vuitton SA holding company was created.
1978 - Louis Vuitton stores open in Tokyo and Osaka, Japan.
1983 - Louis Vuitton teams up with the America's Cup sailing race to form the Louis Vuitton Cup for Sailing. The Louis Vuitton Cup is an elimination round in which the winner sails against the America's Cup winner from the previous year for the America's Cup.
1984 - The first store in South Korea opens in Seoul.
1985 - The Epi Leather line is introduced.
1987 - Louis Vuitton and Moet-Hennessey merge to form LVMH Moet Hennessey Louis Vuitton. The group continues to own the Louis Vuitton company and brand.
1988 - The Louis Vuitton Classic Annual Automobile Race is launched in Paris, France.
1992 - A Louis Vuitton store opens in Beijing, China.
1993 - LVMH launches the Taiga line, a luggage and briefcase black leather line for men.
1996 - The centennial of the Monogram Canvas occurs and LVMH spotlights various designers.
1997 - LVMH launches a line of pens.
1998 - LVMH adds Marc Jacobs, who designs the Monogram Vernis line, and LVMH launches a line of travel guides to major cities around the world.
2001 - LVMH creates the Graffiti line and a Louis Vuitton charm bracelet is released.
2002 - LVMH releases a Louis Vuitton line of watches.
2003 - Takashi Murakami & Marc Jacobs launch the Cherry Blossom Limited Edition, Multicolore and Eye Love lines.
2004 - Louis Vuitton opens stores in New Delhi, India and Macau.
2005 - Artist Vanessa Beecroft creates performance for new store in Paris.