Louis Vuitton: The Trunk Master’s Saga

This is the story of how young Louis Vuitton made history with his trunk creations to establish—200 years later—one of the most sought-after luxury brands.

Travel by train in the 19th century

Louis Vuitton’s heritage as a trunk maker preceded even the founding of the company. To know the complete story about how, at the age of sixteen, Louis Vuitton made a decision that would change his life, let us take you back to the year of 1834. The then thirteen-year-old Louis Vuitton from Anchay, in the French Jura area, left his home town and, after having reached Paris on foot two years later, started his apprenticeship at the renowned trunk maker and packer Romain Maréchal. It should be noted that, at the time, horse-drawn carriages, boats and trains were the main modes of transportation and it was usual for baggage to be handled roughly. As such, travellers called upon craftsmen to pack and protect their belongings.

The DJ Trunk

The young Louis Vuitton quickly became a valued craftsman at the atelier of Romain Maréchal. These were the roots of his highly specialized trade—the beginnings of a career in an artisanal industry that called upon skills to custom design boxes, and later trunks, according to a clients’ wishes. Still, he stayed for another 17 years before opening his own workshop at 4 Rue Neuve-des-Capucines in the heart of the Place Vendome neighborhood, where all fashion houses were established in the second half of the 19th century.

Monsieur Louis Vuitton

In 1859, barely five years after founding his own maison, Louis Vuitton realized that his rapidly growing business required a new nexus, thus he chose to open a workshop in Asnières, in the northwest of Paris. This was a clever, conscious and daring move. Being on close terms with Charles Frederick Worth, the founder of Parisian Haute Couture, and also appointed as trunk maker and packer for Empress Eugénie, Louis Vuitton was quick to understand the revolution that was taking place in transport and foresaw the repercussions it had on luggage design.

As a visionary artist, Louis Vuitton reinvented fashion packing. He realized that a “flat” trunk would be more practical and efficient than the classic domed design. This marked the birth of the Gris Trianon. As rival manufactures began to copy his innovations, he opted for increasingly complex designs, moving from gray cloth to colorful stripes and later on the checked design known as the Damier. Louis Vuitton died in 1892, having passed on precious savoir-faire to future generations, in a spirit of permanent innovation, constantly at the service of travel.

A modern Sneakers Trunk

The journey of Louis Vuitton’s trunks began with innovation and ever since, innovation has stayed at the forefront of the maison’s hard- sided creations

In 1896, his eldest son Georges-Louis Vuitton created the Monogram in honor of his late father. An icon was born—one that was truly revolutionary when it appeared. With its interlaced initials, encircled, rounded flower and four-petal flower encased in a concaved diamond, this most particular and personal of signatures was instantly transformed into a universal symbol of modernity and is one of the first exercises in luxury branding and a defining sign of a global culture to come. Then in 1906, maison Louis Vuitton started creating trunks in the style that today’s shoppers would instantly recognize. The atelier’s creations range from the LV x Supreme special edition, Skateboard Trunk, Shoes and DJ Trunk an even the Louis Vuitton x League of Legends Trophy Travel Case.

The Damien Hirst Trunk

And with its 200th birthday this August, Louis Vuitton is ready to celebrate in an unconventional way by, among other things, launching an art- forward adventure platform game called “Louis The Game.” Available both on Apple’s App Store and the Google PlayStore, the game features a monogrammed flower character, Vivienne, who travels to seven vibrant locations across the globe in search of 200 collectible candles to celebrate Louis Vuitton’s 200th birthday. Each candle unlocks fascinating stories from the history of the brand. Modern, interactive, informative and aesthetically pleasing, we got to say, this is an awesome way to celebrate in the year of 2021.