The story of Louis Vuitton began back in 1837, when the 14-year old Louis went to Paris to become an apprentice for a suitcase manufacturer. It was soon clear that he was a skilled craftsman, but he also had an exquisite sense of quality and had high ambitions about opening his own workshop. He wanted to produce bags and suitcases in a quality and form that had not been seen before.
In 1854 he opened his own workshop and here started making bags and suitcases in a water resistant and hard-wearing impregnated leather. In order to make the products even more hard-wearing he mounted metal corners and edges to his designs. Today, the designs are still produced in leather, but it is the monogram cotton-coated canvas series that is the most popular. The material here is a specially treated canvas fabric that is unique in that it is waterproof, scratch resistant and very hard-wearing.
Very quickly, Louis Vuitton's designs became the preferred travel companion of the upper classes and royalty. Just six years after opening, Louis Vuitton started a workshop in Asnières just outside Paris. This was to accommodate all the special orders that were flooding in from the gentry. The demand for bags made to ones' own personal design was great and only the imagination could limit what it was possible to produce. Desks, felt beds and libraries are just a few examples of the items that were custom produced.
Even today, custom items are produced at the workshop in Asnières and fantasy still features prominently, but you need to be prepared to pay a fortune for special designs as well as expect that lead time can be long.
In 1998 the star designer Marc Jacobs was hired as creative director and this was the beginning of another chapter in Louis Vuitton's history. Marc Jacob's appointment was to pave the way into the international fashion scene and from the start this proved a huge success. Customers embraced his creative designs, the tradition-bound and quality conscious firm marrying perfectly with Marc Jacob's extravagant designs.
Louis Vuitton is no longer a family-owned business. Since 1987 Louis Vuitton has been part of the luxury goods conglomerate LVMH owned by Frenchman Bernard Arnault. Louis Vuitton's great great grandchild however is still employed in the company, helping to ensure that the spirit lives on and that quality remains the best.