One of the most luxurious brands today, Louis Vuitton surprisingly, started from very humble beginnings – making packing luggage for the rich.
Louis Vuitton himself was a young 16-year old who moved to Paris from the Jura Mountains to make a fortune in the French capital. He first began as an apprentice to a box maker and maker and ended up working there for 17 years. Paris was fast becoming the centre for luxury and opulence, and by 1854, Vuitton started his own company on the Rue des Capucines, with advertising on small posters that read, "Securely packs the most fragile objects. Specialising in packing fashions." He offered his clients handmade trunks and his little innovations, for example, using canvas and glue instead of hide – made the endeavor a hit.
The biggest hit was in 1958 when he crated the slat trunk, the first ever piece of modern luggage whose design is still used today. The store turned to a factory – which is also the Vuitton home today – and succeeded by his son Georges, the company was on its way to global expansion.
In 1890, the company patented a tumbler lock that was said to be unpickable and is still used today. Georges even publicly challenged the American escapologist Harry Houdini to try to crack it (his response unknown!).
It was only in 1896 that the most popular LV bag was introduced – the famous monogram canvas. Then in 1914, the company opened the then biggest luggage store in the world on the Champs-Elysées, and gained reputation as the world's most luxurious travel brand, a favourite of the rich and famous all over the world.
In 1996, when LV’s idea to ask seven designers to create special pieces to celebrate the centenary of the monogram bag became a big hit, the brand final decided to launch as a fashion label with Marc Jacobs as its creative director. Soon, celebrities like Jennifer Lopez, Kanye, Pharrell Williams started flocking to wear the brand IRL and in campaigns, and the brand’s success grew to menswear as well.
Today, the brand is under the house of LVMH, and with creative director Nicolas Ghesquiere at the helm, encompasses ready-to-wear, shoes, watches, jewelry, accessories, sunglasses, books and of course, its legendary luxury leather trunks – where it all started.