See below for a brief history of Louis Vuitton, the luxury handbag brand.
History of Louis Vuitton
Master luggage maker Louis Vuitton Malletier founded Louis Vuitton on the Rue Neuve des Capucines in Paris, France. He specialised in the craftsmanship of rigid cases and canvas covered wooden steamer trunks.
Louis Vuitton realised that round shaped luggage took up lots of room during transportation and went about coming up with a solution for this. He designed and manufactured a range of luggage which was flat and not round. This new design could be stacked and therefore took up less room when customers were travelling. During this period horse carriages, trains and boats were the leading method of transport, so Vuitton’s flat designed luggage took off. Craftsmen then begun to imitate Vuitton’s new signature luggage style.
A trunk in a beige and red striped canvas, named the trianon canvas pattern was introduced. Unfortunately this design proved to be easily copied by competitors.
To make it harder for counterfeiters, the trianon canvas was updated to a beige and brown colourway and named Rayée Canvas.
Louis Vuitton went on to create and trademark the Damier Canvas pattern for its range of luggage and trunks. 100 years on from it launch, the Damier Canvas pattern was reintroduced as the Damier Ebène.
When Louis Vuitton died his son Georges Vuitton took over the company, with his vision of making Louis Vuitton a bigger global brand.
In order to deter counterfeiters, Georges Vuitton created the iconic LV Monogram Canvas. Typically in a brown colourway with Louis Vuitton’s initials, diamonds, circles and flowers printed on coated canvas.
Louis Vuitton launched the Keepall, also known as the Tient-Tout (Hold-All).
A more portable version of the Keepall, the smaller Speedy style was launched, as a reaction to the faster-pace of travel. First called the Express and later renamed the Speedy, it was first made available in three sizes: 30, 35 and 40. It was the iconic actress Audrey Hepburn herself who requested an even smaller version titled the Speedy 25. This is definitely a key moment in the history of Louis Vuitton.
The Noé bag was created as a stylish way to carry champagne, so picnics the world over now have a lot more fizz, thanks to Louis Vuitton. The original Noé bucket style was designed to carry 4 bottles standing up and with a 5th upside down in the middle.
Louis Vuitton introduced its first leather line in 1985, when Epi Leather was created and became its first permanent collection of Leather bags.
This is the year that saw the merging of Louis Vuitton with Moët et Chandon and Hennessy, thus creating the world’s largest luxury conglomerate – LVMH.
In the history of Louis Vuitton so far, the brand had focused on its accessory offerings. This all changed in 1997, when Louis Vuitton launched it’s foray into women’s wear with its first ready-to-wear line, as masterminded by the newly appointment creative director Marc Jacobs. Jacobs stayed on as creative director at LV until 2013.
Jacobs pioneered artist collaborations with luxury brands, by working with Stephen Sprouse who created the infamous graffiti Louis Vuitton print which adorned its monogram keepalls and luggage bags. A move which arguably saw art take the form of wearable pieces. Louis Vuitton has continued this trend by working with artists such as, Takashi Murakami and Yayoi Kusama on limited edition handbag collections.
Louis Vuitton created the Neverfull bag, as a larger tote style, able to carry all a modern woman’s essentials. The Neverfull typically comes in Monogram, Damier Azur and Damier Ebène coated canvas. This style went on to become one of Louis Vuitton’s most successful styles, marking a key point in the history of Louis Vuitton.
Nicolas Ghesquièire succeeded Marc Jacobs as the new creative director of Louis Vuitton.
Louis Vuitton Leather Guide
Louis Vuitton uses a number of signature leather and canvas types in their handbag designs. See below for an overview of some of the most popular styles and how we recommend you look after them.
When first purchased Vachetta leather is a light beige colour, but it is designed to age (a process called Patina), so it will go a dark brown shade over the years and with use. Patina is an unavoidable process as Vachetta is susceptible to water, stains and exposure to sunlight. Handles made from Vachetta leather can go very dark due to the grease and natural oils from your hands penetrating the leather. This is particularly common if you wear a lot of hand cream! The upside to Patina, is that each item which has Vachetta leather will develop its own unique characteristics and no two bags will age the same way.
Vachetta is commonly the name Louis Vuitton use to call the leather used on their handbags and luggage range. This typically is used on the brown top & bottom trim along with the handles. Dark Vachetta is a good indicator that a Louis Vuitton handbag is genuine and authentic, as plastic imitation Vachetta won’t go darker and undergo the Patina process.
How to Care for Vachetta Leather
Dermo Protect protects finished & unfinished leathers (such as Vachetta) from day to day staining, liquids, dye transfer, ink and more. Dermo Protect ensures you can clean away any handbag disasters using specialist cleaning products, such as our Antibacterial Cleaning Wipes.
A mild cleanser, hydrator & stain guard all in one product, Everyday 3 in 1 cleans and offers a light layer of protection all at the same time. Use this product weekly (depending on how regularly you use the bag) and ensure you protect your Vachetta leather after cleaning with Dermo Protect.
To hydrate unfinished leather like Vachetta, you can use Pure Hydrate. It restores the natural softness to leather by replenishing the natural oils. This gives an intense hydration treatment for your vachetta for use when needed.
To clean unfinished leathers, such as Vachetta, we recommend using Sensitive Cleanse. It allows you to clean off the buildup of dirt, by creating a thick solution that sits on the surface for longer than other products. Use every couple of months & remember to protect your leather after cleaning with Dermo Protect.
Whatever you do, do not spot clean Vachetta – ensure you wipe all the Vachetta with a lint free cloth when applying any product.
So what is Coated Canvas? This may come as a shock to some handbag enthusiasts, but simply put, it’s cotton canvas (or fabric) coated with PVC. It can be surprising to discover that your Polyvinyl Chloride coated bag is not in fact leather, but it may still have some leather components, such as the handles or piping (like Louis Vuitton’s Vachetta trim).
Coated Canvas is used by designer brands such as Louis Vuitton (typically on their Monogram and Damier lines), Dior, Fendi and Goyard. When looking at the history of Louis Vuitton, you will see that Coated Canvas has been a signature material used by the brand for its luggage and handbag ranges.
Benefits of Coated Canvas
Don’t despair if you purchased a Coated Canvas item believing it was leather, as Coated Canvas does have its own range of benefits. Handbags made from Coated Canvas are generally lightweight and durable, so you’ll have no back problems from carrying heavy bags! The application of a plastic coating to make coated canvas, ensures it’s scratch resistant. Another feature of this material includes, its waterproof nature, which makes it easy to clean with the correct specialist cleaning products. You can find out more on maintaining your coated canvas item below.
How to Care for Coated Canvas
Dermo Cleanse is a gentle foaming product, strong enough to remove stubborn ground in dirt, yet mild enough to allow regular use on protected leathers. Use every couple of months.
Does the idea of germs on your bag gross you out? Well we’ve developed an antibacterial cleanser – proven to kill 99% of common bacteria! Anti-Bacterial Cleanse is the U.K’s only proven anti-bacterial killing product for this application, specifically designed for handbags. Not only that, but this product can be used on ALL types of fabric, canvas & leather. We recommend cleaning your Coated Canvas with Anti-Bacterial Cleanse weekly / monthly.
Shop Anti-Bacterial Cleanse Now
One of the first leather handbag ranges created in the history of Louis Vuitton, were in Epi leather. Now Epi leather is typically used on their range of handbags and wallets. The brand describes their Epi creations as combining:
“…modern elegance and timeless luxury. Durable Epi leather is ideal for daily use while still being effortlessly stylish.” Louis Vuitton
So how do Louis Vuitton create Epi leather? The process of making epi leather is very specific, the natural leather is tanned with plant extracts and then deep-dyed. Afterwards, a special colouration on the surface of the grain is applied, which creates its distinctive coloured two tone effect.
A key characteristic of Epi leather is its durability and ability to withstand any weather condition. So if you’re looking for the perfect companion for the rainy UK climate, choose a bag made from Epi Leather!
Types of Epi Leather
Keen handbag connoisseurs will note that there are actually 2 types of Epi leather: Classic Epi leather and Electric Epi leather. Both Epi styles are resilient to water damage and are suitable for everyday use, but the key difference between Classic Epi leather and Electric Epi leather is their appearance. The matt, smooth appearance are common characteristics or Classic Epi leather. Whereas Electric Epi leather has a high-shine, patent-looking finish compared to its counterpart. This makes Electric Epi leather an enticing choice for those who want a wearable patent bag.
How to Care for Epi Leather
Dermo Protect protects finished leathers (such as Epi) from day to day staining, liquids, dye transfer, ink and more. Dermo Protect ensures you can clean away these handbag disasters using specialist cleaning products (such as our Antibacterial Cleaning Wipes).
A mild cleanser, hydrator & stain guard all in one product. Everyday 3 in 1 cleans and offers a light layer of protection all at the same time. Use this product weekly (depending on how regularly you use the bag) and ensure you protect your Epi leather after cleaning with Dermo Protect.
Dermo Cleanse is a gentle foaming product. It’s strong enough to remove stubborn ground in dirt, yet mild enough to allow regular use on protected leathers. Use every couple of months. Remember to protect your leather after cleaning with Dermo Protect.
The Handbag Spa
If your Louis Vuitton handbag is looking a little worse for wear, send it into The Handbag Spa for our team to asses. Once here it can undergo treatments to clean and restore its appearance.
Click to see our Louis Vuitton cleaning & restoration results
Contact The Handbag Spa
If you have any questions on the history of Louis Vuitton & cleaning their handbags you can contact The Handbag Spa directly:
Telephone: +44 1423 888 709