Louis Vuitton founded his own brand of leather goods. He was the trunk maker of the wife of Napoleon III, Empress Eugenie de Montijo. He was a French businessman and fashion designer.
Early Life of Louis Vuitton
Born in Anchay, France on August 4, 1821, Louis Vuitton was from the working class of joiners, farmers, carpenters, and milliners. His father was a farmer, and his mother was a milliner. He was orphaned at the age of 10 years old when his mother died. However, his father also died sooner than expected.
Louis Vuitton’s Career
At age 13, Louis Vuitton left for Paris alone and on foot in the spring of 1835. He walked for at least two years and did odd jobs to stay alive. He arrived in Paris when he was 16 years old in 1837 after a 292-mile trek.
Paris was in poverty back then. Louis Vuitton became an apprentice of Monsieur Marechal, an accomplished packer and box maker. At that time, box making was an urbane and respectable craft. The fashionable class of Paris considered Vuitton one of the best practitioners after just a few years.
At the age of 33, Louis Vuitton married Clemence-Emilie Parriaux, who was just 17 years old at that time. He opened his own workshop when he got married. In 1858, he introduced the stackable rectangular-shaped trunks. The great demand for these trunks allowed Vuitton to open a larger workshop.
Louis Vuitton became the box maker and packer of Eugenie de Montijo, wife of Napoleon III, after the French Empire’s reestablishment. The Empress Montijo was instrumental in introducing Vuitton to the other royal and elite clients.
In 1867, the Exposition Universelle, an international exposition in Paris, awarded a bronze medal to Louis Vuitton. The award made Vuitton even more popular.
How Louis Vuitton Created a Luxury Brand
After the Franco-Prussian War and the siege of Paris, Vuitton found his workshop in ruins and his equipment stolen. He devoted his time and energy to restoring his business. He built his new workshop at 1 Rue Scribe and decided to focus on luxury.
His workshop was the previous home of the Jockey Club. As such, it had an aristocratic feel. Louis Vuitton introduced his red stripes and beige canvas trunk design in 1872. The luxurious, yet simple, design appealed to the new elite. Vuitton was able to transform his brand into a luxury one.
Louis Vuitton won the grand prize and gold medal at the Exposition Universelle in 1889. His luxury brand even became more popular.
The Death and Legacy of Louis Vuitton
Louis Vuitton was at the helm of his business until his death on February 27, 1892. His son, Georges, took over and made the Louis Vuitton brand gain worldwide attention. He created the LV monogram in 1896 to find the widespread copying of patterns.
In 1914, Georges Vuitton opened the Louis Vuitton building in Champs-Elysees. It was touted as the largest travel goods store in the world.