Louis Vuitton is debatably the biggest clothing brand in the world. It’s been a staple of celebrity fashion for more than a century.
With patrons ranging from Audrey Hepburn to the Empress of France, the company was founded by its namesake Louis Vuitton in 1854 and has quickly grown to one of the most classic brands on earth.
However, beyond the glitz and glamour, there are many lesser-known stories of the company and its origins.
Today we are going through the 15 Things You Didn’t Know About Louis Vuitton.
15 Things You Didn’t Know About Louis Vuitton
1. Louis Vuitton Left Home At 13
Louis Vuitton became an orphan at a young age, with his mother dying when he was only 10 years old and his father dying soon after.
When he was 13, he decided to go to Paris.
He set out on foot from his home in Eastern France in the spring of 1835 on a 292-mile journey to the capital city.
The trek took longer than two years. And during this time, Louis Vuitton took odd jobs and stayed wherever he could find shelter.
He arrived in Paris at the age of 16 in 1837.
2. Louis Vuitton’s Business Started Taking Off When He Worked With Royalty
When Louis Vuitton traveled to Paris, he became an apprentice box-maker and packer, which was a very respectable job at the time.
He built a reputation for himself in the industry to the point where he was hired by the Empress of France to be her personal box-maker and packer…
This led to him acquiring other elite and royal clients who supported his business throughout his career.
3. Louis Vuitton Didn’t Have A Fashion Line Or Creative Director Until 1997
Louis Vuitton is often referred to as a French fashion house, so it may be surprising to find out that they did not have their own fashion line until 1997.
When Marc Jacobs was hired as the first creative director, he created the brand’s ready-to-wear collection and oversaw the development of Louis Vuitton as a fashion brand.
4. LV’s Signature Monogram Canvas Was Launched And Patented In 1896
Louis’s son, Georges Vuitton, wanted to prevent counterfeiting, so he created the iconic monogram design along with their Quattro foils, flowers, and LV monogram and patented the designs worldwide in 1896.
5. Louis Vuitton Collaborated With The Nazis In World War II
Beyond their elitist mindset, there’s another major skeleton in Louis Vuitton’s closet.
It was recently revealed that the family had links to the French Vichy government, who collaborated with the Nazis during the occupation of World War II.
Not only did the company benefit financially from their dealings with the Nazis and the Vichy government, but also they fabricated images of the chief of state of a Vichy — Positively promoting his image.
The company has tried to distance itself from this dark part of its past, but the fact remains — ‘The entire Louis Vuitton family collaborated with Nazis for financial gain!’
Some even argued that the brand would never have reached its current status if not for its association with the fascist government.
While most other companies were economically depressed during World War II, Louis Vuitton was making big moves in the political world.
When researching this story, reporters stated that the firm gave them full cooperation.
But when they asked about the wartime activities, they were told that the company documents for the years 1930 to 1945 had been destroyed in a fire.
This is a pretty convenient period for the company to lose contact with, as would be even more incriminating…
Many are still tempted to buy Louis Vuitton products, but the question remains — Is it worth supporting a company that’s still hiding from its Nazi past?
6. Leftover Products Are Burned or Shredded After Every Season
LVMH works tirelessly to give their products the mystique of exclusivity.
For one thing, they never put their bags on discount even if they have overstock.
This creates the illusion that there are always a precious few bags available, though it’s not always the case.
This technique has been emulated by other luxury brands like Gucci and Lululemon who consciously keep their products from being discounted…
Beyond this, Louis Vuitton goes to wasteful extremes to ensure there will never be a glut of their products.
At the end of every fashion season, LVMH collects its unsold products, returns them to France, and burns them.
Things that cannot be burned, such as watches, are smashed and thrown in the trash.
It’s hard to imagine a less ecologically sound business model, but LVMH is determined to make their products appear rare regardless of the consequences.
And in this case, the conspiracy goes even deeper…
By destroying unused products, brands that import goods into the U.S stand to benefit from the drawback or the return of certain duties, internal and revenue taxes, and certain fees collected upon the importation of the product into the U.S for instance, from France.
That is to say that by returning and destroying their goods, LVMH actually receives a tax refund from countries like the U.S and Italy.
Of course, it seems wrong to incentivize the destruction of merchandise, but LVMH continues to exploit this loophole.
7. Audrey Hepburn Is Responsible For The Popularity Of The ‘Speedy’ Handbag
One of LV’s iconic products is the Speedy handbag.
If you love this bag, you have Audrey Hepburn to thank because her requested version of the Speedy bag was made popular in 1965.
She asked for a miniature day bag version of the brand’s popular Keepall travel bag.
The first Speedy was made in 1930, but the smaller version was made specifically for Audrey Hepburn.
And then the bag became a regular production piece and one of the brand’s signature pieces…
8. Their Most Expensive Bag Sold For $133,400
In 2012, Louis Vuitton worked with Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama to create the limited edition Kusama Pumpkin Minaudiere Jewel Bag.
The pumpkin-shaped bag is made with pure gold, black resin, and fine jewels.
Inspired by the style of small evening bags popular in the 1930s, this rare bag sold for $133,400, making it the most expensive Louis Vuitton purse ever sold.
Even if you had that kind of money to put toward a purse, it’s unlikely you could get your hands on one as only five were made.
9. Their Handbags Are Both Waterproof And Fireproof
One reason the designers can justify their high price tag is that all of their handbags are waterproof and fireproof.
And go through extensive durability testing to ensure their quality.
10. Louis Vuitton Products Never Go On Sale
If you’re waiting around hoping the price is going to come down on that LV bag you have your eyes on, you’re going to be very disappointed…
Louis Vuitton never lowers their prices on publicly sold products.
And they don’t sell to discount outlets.
In fact, they say on their website that if you come across a reduced-price LV product, it’s most likely counterfeit unless it’s a secondhand item.
11. Louis Vuitton Sued Britney Spears
Louis Vuitton has a team of about 60 people who work with lawyers and investigators to combat counterfeiting and misrepresentation of their products.
This has led to many lawsuits, including a 2007 suit against Britney Spears.
In Britney’s music video for ‘Do Something’, some fingers are seen tapping on the dashboard of a hot pink Hummer that features Louis Vuitton’s cherry blossom design along with the LV logo.
Louis Vuitton contended that they did not allow the use of their design and said that the use was an attack on their brand!
Although Britney was not found liable.
MTV and Sony BG were ordered to stop showing the video and were each fined around $90,000.
12. Louis Vuitton Made A Customized Trunk For A Rubber Duck
Anyone can order a customized trunk at any Louis Vuitton shop in the world, but you better be ready to pay up.
A small non-customized case costs nearly $6,000, but the customized options cost much more!
Louis Vuitton himself started his business by creating customized trunks, and this is still an important part of the company.
The possibilities are endless… Trunks have been specially created for items such as dogs, barbies, teddy bears, golf clubs, baby bottles, cigars, and tennis rackets.
One of the most unusual boxes ever custom-made was for a rubber ducky named Willy.
No matter what the request is, the designers at the specialty shop will work to meet your demands as long as you have the cash.
They even designed a trunk with a built-in coffeemaker, TV, and DVD player powered by a solar panel.
Karl Lagerfeld, also commissioned Louis Vuitton to create a trunk for him that would hold 40 iPods and they happily complied.
13. One Of Their Customized Trunks Was Auctioned Off For $170,000
In 2012, Michael Clark, the Australian cricket team captain at the time, helped design the Louis Vuitton Michael Clark luxury trunk.
This one-of-a-kind luxury item was designed to hold cricket pads, gloves, hats, blazers, and shoes along with a dozen drawers for smaller items… It also includes a Bose sound system.
The trunk was auctioned off at the famous Christie’s Auction House for around $170,000, making it the most expensive Louis Vuitton item sold to date.
All proceeds were donated to Sydney’s children’s hospital.
14. Louis Vuitton Made ‘The Unlockable Lock’ After The Years Of Research
Before the days of security, passwords, and pins, the entire world relied on good old-fashioned locks.
Louis Vuitton concentrated on this project, helping the closing system of trunks strengthened to make them impenetrable and inimitable.
He worked with different types of locks, going from one supplier to the next, always seeking a more ingenious system and the best way to counter the new problems of the era…
In 1896, after years of research, he arrived at a breakthrough.
In an era where travelers transported all of their personal effects in wardrobes and trunks that would attract envy and, unfortunately, thieves as well.
This trunk maker dared to create the only lock that was supposedly unpickable.
He was so confident in his product that he challenged the legendary escape artist and magician Harry Houdini.
The Dare was to get out of a box close with a Louis Vuitton lock.
With an onlooking crowd, Houdini wasn’t able to escape and the efficiency of the lock was proved.
Though some have speculated that Houdini was compensated for this publicity stunt, the world may never know.
The fact remains that the lock is a consistent element on all the Louis Vuitton products to this day.
15. The Alma Bag Was Created As A Special Order For Coco Chanel
Coco Chanel was the first French icon to directly influence a Louis Vuitton product in 1925.
Chanel special-ordered a day-sized version of the Alma Voyage trunk for daily use.
She was the only one to own an Alma bag for a few years, but the bag was put into regular production in the 1930s and continues to be a popular item of the brand.
Now that you’ve learned more about Louis Vuitton, how long do you think they’ll be able to remain the dominant luxury fashion brand?
Let us know what do you think in the comments.
Thanks for reading!