The Louis Vuitton brand is one of the most valuable in the world. The “LV” abbreviation and monogram symbol is widely recognizable. It is so desired, that a massive industry of counterfeiters has emerged, and they make huge profits. However, there are many reasons that Louis Vuitton cannot truly ever be replicated.
The history of the massive brand is on display at the old Stock Exchange building in New York City, in an exhibit called “Volez, Voguez, Voyagez — Louis Vuitton,” meaning flying, vogue, and travel. The alliteration in the original French draws in the crowd, taking them back to the humble beginnings of the company.
The company started in 1854, with Louis Vuitton himself designing travel trunks for practicality. He was able to design airtight, ergonomically stackable trunks for long ocean voyages. This was a huge step up from rounded trunks (think pirates chests), which were employed so water would run off them, like a tilted roof. The CEO of Louis Vuitton, Michael Burke, says the brand and the founder himself have “always been at the forefront of creation and innovation today and over a century ago.”
The exhibition is curated by Olivier Saillard, who has “immersed himself in the Louis Vuitton archives to decode its secrets,” according to the CEO. The products are remarkable, as all the handbags are hand made, which is partially why they are so expensive.
One bag takes roughly seven days to put together. Just because they use age-old techniques to put the bags together does not mean they are not good quality. In fact, it is the opposite. The bags are waterproof and fireproof, hearkening back to Vuitton’s original innovation with the travel trunks.
The exhibition is definitely worth a look, as it shows how a technological innovation grew into a massive brand that we all know today.