[A BRIEF HISTORY OF LUXURY] The Louis Vuitton trunk: a flat box that’s a hit

Its history is one of the most iconic in the world of luxury, a symbol of French craftsmanship and creativity that continues to this day. The Louis Vuitton trunk is an emblem that has inspired many fashion and leather goods enthusiasts since its creation in the 19th century. Here we take a closer look at this time-honoured piece.


Although France’s most powerful brand in 2024, according to the Brand Finance rankings, is known today for its ultra-popular leather goods around the world, its history began with trunks. In 1837, the young Louis Vuitton moved to Paris to begin an apprenticeship with Monsieur Maréchal at the age of 16. There, the budding trunk-maker learned the basics of designing travel luggage, which in the past was mainly carried by horse, boat and train. And the market was buoyant, given the opulence of the period’s ceremonial outfits, with their hats, jewellery and other clothes.


© Louis Vuitton


Armed with this knowledge, Louis Vuitton decided to found his own eponymous brand in 1854 at 4 rue Neuve-des-Capucines, not far from Place Vendôme. Five years later, the brand opened its workshop in Asnières, in a house that was both a family residence and the cradle of the company. The Louis Vuitton trunk, as we know it today, was created and patented in 1885. Flat and light, unlike the heavy, domed trunks of the period, it was easier to store and kept pace with the advent of modern transport, such as transatlantic liners, steam locomotives, cars and aeroplanes.


© Louis Vuitton


An ever-improving trunk


Innovation while respecting know-how is the watchword of the French House. Since its creation, the iconic trunk has been optimised, encouraged by the fresh vision of the children who inherited the Louis Vuitton family. As in 1886, when Georges, son of the founder, and Louis Vuitton revolutionised luggage locks to prevent theft. This patented lock, equipped with two spring loops, was considered a technical and ingenious feat when it was introduced. Proof of its effectiveness, this lock is still used today.


© Louis Vuitton


In 1896, Georges Vuitton, who had been at the head of the empire since the death of his father four years earlier, created the famous revolutionary ‘Monogramme LV’ canvas himself, with its famous floral and geometric pattern signed with the initials LV. The aim? To stand out from the competition and use this print to curb counterfeiting, which was copying the brand’s old stripes and chequered patterns.


Later, in 1959, Gaston-Louis, the eldest son of Georges Vuitton, who ran the company from 1936 onwards, and his own son Claude-Louis developed a new coated monogram canvas made from linen, cotton and PVC. These innovations helped make Louis Vuitton trunks famous.


Ultra made-to-measure


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Featured photo: © Louis Vuitton

Picture of Pauline Duvieu
Pauline Duvieu
Fashion, hotels, gastronomy, jewelry, beauty, design... Pauline Duvieu is a journalist specializing in luxury and the art of living. Passionate about the high-end spheres that arouse emotion, she loves to describe the creations of the houses and tell the stories of the talents she meets.

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