With over a century of history, the Louis Vuitton brand has aligned itself with every new age of exploration, adapting to the time's vehicles and fashion and celebrating the journey itself.
The Louis Vuitton brand today is a product of the lasting efforts of three generations of Vuitton men - Louis Vuitton, Georges Vuitton, and Gaston-Louis Vuitton, and a masterful partnership with LVMH under the leadership of Bernard Arnault. LVMH was the result of a 1987 merger with Moët Hennessy (already a 1971 merger between famed champagne Moët & Chandon and the legendary cognacer Hennessy).
The Most Valuable Brand In the World
In 1989, just after the merger, Louis Vuitton operated a staggering 130 stores worldwide. Only twenty-four years later, the retail presence of this explosive brand more than tripled, with 460 stores worldwide.
Valued at over $16 billion in 2020, Louis Vuitton is the most valuable brand in the world. The LVMH merger was historic, inspiring other luxury brand groups, most notably the French conglomerate Kering and the Swiss-based Richemont group, to follow a similar model in building a much-desired luxury brand portfolio.
After joining the multinational conglomerate, the Louis Vuitton brand made a course-altering decision in its choice of Artistic Director. In 1997, Louis Vuitton hired Marc Jacobs, a young designer out of New York whose knack for dramatic combinations perfectly aligned with LVMH's global mindset and would leave the luxury world forever changed.
As Artistic Director, Marc Jacobs opened Louis Vuitton to the fashion world, introducing the first ready-to-wear collections for men and women. This step into standard sizing attracted an entirely new Louis Vuitton customer, whose custom designs they had admired but was out of reach.
In 2001, Marc Jacobs launched the brand's first venture into jewelry, a charm bracelet. The same year, the Marc Jacobs x Stephen Sprouse graffiti-on-monogram collaboration set the world ablaze with a limited line of handbags. Meanwhile, different initiatives still kept the brand exclusive. Only brand VIPs, for example, had access to bags from the collection with a select design that included the graffiti without the monogram print. A year later, the Tambour watch collection was introduced, and an ambitious decades-long new retail strategy was underway.
Global Luxury Shopping
The Louis Vuitton building opened in Tokyo's Ginza shopping district. The area known for its upscale shopping is one of the most expensive and elegant streets in the world. In 2003, the Marc Jacobs x Takashi Murakami collection, playful and colorful monogram-printed handbags, saturated popular culture.
In 2004, Louis Vuitton commemorated its 150th anniversary by inaugurating stores on New York's Fifth Avenue and its first global store in Shanghai. Fifth Avenue is home to Millionaire's Row, one of the most expensive shopping streets in the world since the 1950s. More stores opened in São Paulo, Mexico City, Cancun, and Johannesburg. A year later, Louis Vuitton paid homage to the once largest travel goods store in the world by reopening a flagship on the Champs-Élysées in Paris.
From Marc Jacobs to Virgil Abloh
This LVMH blueprint focused on growing the brand while remaining rare, a concept first introduced by Georges Vuitton, fueled a narrow focus on creativity and retail expansion, propelling the luxury brand to new heights.
After sixteen years, in 2014, the era of Marc Jacobs was over. Collaborations with artists like Pharrell, Kanye West, Jeff Koons, and global streetwear sensation Supreme helped further the bond between Louis Vuitton, culture, and art.
In 2018, Virgil Abloh, an American designer, entrepreneur, and CEO of the Milan-based label Off-White, made history as the first African American artistic director at a major European fashion house. He debuted his first men's wear collection, heavily inspired by casual clothing and streetwear, in the historic Palais-Royal gardens' courtyard. The breakthrough designer passed away in late 2021, leaving a legacy of creativity and ingenuity.