Collecting - Louis Vuitton, the history of luxe travel

It's been over 20 years since I purchased my Louis Vuitton luggage.  My first piece as the hard side case pictured, and then it was followed by several others.  My first piece was aptly called boite bouteilles, which translated to English means bottle box.  I have always used it to carry all my apothecary that I will need for my travels.  Hard side luggage is a rarely seen these days, and these pieces were originally designed for train or boat travel - it's sturdy sides ensured your items would arrive safe and unharmed. 

Louis Vuitton Malletier — commonly referred to as Louis Vuitton or shortened to LV — is a French fashion house specializing in luxury trunks, leather goods, ready-to-wear, shoes, watches, jewelery, accessories, sunglasses, and books. Known the world over for its LV monogram and logo, Louis Vuitton is one of the World's most recognized brands. A long time symbol of prestige and wealth, the company commands some of the highest prices in the international fashion market for its products.

Louis Vuitton was founded by Monsieur Vuitton in 1854 in Paris. In 1858, Louis Vuitton introduced his flat-bottom trunks with trianon canvas (they were lightweight and airtight).  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.

In 1867, the company participated in the universal exhibition in Paris. To protect against the duplication of his look, he changed the Trianon design to a beige and brown stripes design in 1876.  By 1885, the company opened its first store in London, England on Oxford Street.  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.
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. 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).

My train case, as well as all of my luggage has been well used and I am confident these pieces will outlast me and be handed down to my daughter as heirlooms.  I find Louis Vuitton luggage to be synonymous with luxe travel no matter where you are going.  Undoubtedly you never have to wonder where your luggage is at baggage claim.  With the information age at our advantage, it is increasingly easy to find vintage trunks and carry-ons if you visit the right places and know what to look for so you make sure your Louis Vuitton piece is authentic. 

I will forever cherish my Louis Vuitton luggage and hope that one day I can own a coveted steamer trunk.

1 comment:

  1. Ross: Please promise me you won't ever use that luggage if fly and need to check luggage because you may never see it again or it may be opened and stuff stolen from it. Designer luggage=rich people to the baggage handlers. That's why I buy my luggage at Target--cheap and who cares if it gets wrecked??!!

    Just a little word of advice. . . -Jane