Truly a name that needs no introduction, Louis Vuitton has been at the forefront of the leather goods industry for over 150 years. Today, the brand is a global empire that accounts for tens of billions in sales.
Louis Vuitton bags, clothing, and accessories are considered the pinnacle of luxury, and their goods carry the price tag to prove it.
Today, we’re going to take a deep dive into this iconic company to help answer the question, “Why is Louis Vuitton so expensive?”
Read on as we cover everything you need to know about this legendary fashion house.
The Fascinating History of Louis Vuitton
Following in the footsteps of a family of craftspeople, Louis Vuitton was destined to be a creator. His parents both died young, and after a contentious relationship with his adopted stepmother, Vuitton set out on his own at only 13.
Over two years, a young Louis Vuitton traveled nearly 300 miles from his hometown of Anchay to Paris by foot, working odd jobs as he made his way towards the city.
After arriving, Vuitton took an apprenticeship with Monsieur Marécha, a renowned Parisian trunk maker.
The transportation of the day was carriages, boats, or trains, and traveling wasn’t as smooth or luxurious as it is today.
Travelers’ goods took a beating in transit, and trunks needed to be made to handle the rigors of life on the road.
The young Vuitton honed his craft as a trunkmaker at the atelier of Monsieur Maréchal for 17 years before staking out on his own.
After Napoleon III restored the French Empire, Vuitton was appointed as the trunk maker to the Empress of the French.
This provided access to an elite client base, which Vuitton took advantage of when staking out on his own.
Birth of the Louis Vuitton Brand
In 1854, Louis Vuitton opened a shop in the Asnières region of France in a workshop that still houses operations today. The workshop also served as the Vuitton family residence.
From humble beginnings, the Vuitton name continued to rise in prominence, and by 1914, over 200 skilled craftsmen were employed at the Asnières shop, creating custom trunks and leather goods.
Not only did luggage take a beating during travel in the 19th-century, but large trunks and wardrobes were also favorite targets of thieves.
Recognizing this, Louis’ son Georges began working on a patented locking mechanism that could deter theft more effectively than the primitive locks of the time.
The new lock and spring buckle mechanism were so effective that Vuitton famously challenged Harry Houdini to escape from a Louis Vuitton trunk.
While Houdini never took up the challenge, the effectiveness of these locks has never been challenged, and the design is still employed today, well over 100 years later.
Beyond creating the locking mechanism, Georges left an indelible stamp on the brand and helped build Louis Vuitton into the brand it is today.
The 20th Century & Beyond
In 1896, Georges trademarked the now-iconic LV monogram motif that the brand is so well known for today.
The LV monogram was created as a way to deter counterfeiters from knocking off Vuitton trunks. Ironically, the LV monogram is the most oft-counterfeited luxury brand mark today.
Shortly after introducing the monogram print, Georges expanded the brand beyond the realm of trunks and wardrobes.
One of the first bags he produced was a one-off custom for the legendary Coco Chanel. For Chanel, Georges produced the now-iconic Alma handbag.
Coco Chanel gave her blessing for Vuitton to begin producing the bag a decade after she received hers.
Before marketing the Alma bag, the brand began producing the now-iconic silhouettes like the Keepall and Speedy.
Many of these original Vuitton purses and bags are still available today.
Emerging technologies in the 1950s allowed the Vuitton brand to develop a softer and more supple canvas.
Under the direction of Georges’ son, Gaston-Louis Vuitton, the production of smaller goods such as wallets and clutches helped to grow the brand even further.
Gaston was succeeded by his son-in-law, Henry Racamier, who continued the excellence with which the Vuitton brand had become synonymous.
In 1987, he entered into a partnership with Moet & Chandon and Hennessy to form the luxury conglomerate LVMH.
It wasn’t until 1997 that Louis Vuitton entered the world of fashion apparel. Marc Jacobs was appointed the first creative director of Louis Vuitton, and within a year, he rolled out his first men’s and women’s ready-to-wear collections.
Jacobs remained at the forefront of LV until his departure in 2013 to focus on his eponymous brand, released under the LVMH umbrella.
Since Jacobs’ departure, Louis Vuitton has been home to some of the most notable names in fashion, including Nicolas Ghesquière, Kim Jones, and Virgil Abloh. The allure and appeal of Louis Vuitton bags and apparel continue to grow with no signs of stopping.
Why is Louis Vuitton so Expensive?
Walk into any Vuitton boutique or luxury department store for the first time, and you’ll likely be taken back by how prohibitively expensive these bags and accessories are. Is it all hype-driven, or is there a reason for the high price?
While the brand’s popularity certainly plays a role in the high price of the goods, the truth is that Louis Vuitton bags, apparel, and accessories are made to the world’s highest specifications, and there are tons of reasons why they command such a high price.
Let’s take a closer look at why Louis Vuitton bags are so expensive.
Read Also: Louis Vuitton Price Increase in 2022.
Before we consider any of the other factors that influence the cost of authentic Louis Vuitton products, it is important to start at the top.
Louis Vuitton was a gifted artisan who revolutionized the luggage industry from the company’s inception in the 1850s. His son Georges was equally gifted and continued to grow and refine the brand.
Future generations of Vuitton artisans continued to add to the brand’s cache as it grew. Over the last few decades, the brand’s artistic direction has been helmed by some of the most legendary designers in fashion, including Marc Jacobs, Kim Jones, and many more.
So, before we even consider the quality and craftsmanship of the goods, you have to value the brand’s intellectual property and the incredible designs they create with designers who represent the pinnacle of fashion and luxury.
While there are plenty of exceptionally popular luxury brands, Louis Vuitton is one of the top brands in the world, and they are undoubtedly the most valuable luxury brand in the fashion space.
According to Statista, with a brand value of over $75 billion, Louis Vuitton is more than 60% more valuable than its closest rivals, Hermes and Gucci.
Further underscoring Louis Vuitton’s market position, the parent company LVMH is Europe’s largest company, worth over $329 billion.
The value of the Louis Vuitton brand makes it the most sought-after brand in the world, which allows the company to charge high prices for its clothing, bags, and accessories.
Another critical aspect that drives the high price of Louis Vuitton goods is the exclusivity of the merchandise.
Part of the appeal of luxury goods is knowing that not everyone can walk into the store and buy what you have.
Maintaining that exclusivity is a delicate balance involving supply and demand and the price of the items.
Not only is the supply of goods tightly controlled, but the prices are so high as a purposeful appeal to the luxury market.
At the risk of sounding crass, the wealthy would have little interest in Louis Vuitton if it were affordable to everyone.
Louis Vuitton maintains much higher profit margins than other brands, despite the costs that go into producing each Vuitton item.
The high-profit margin is a testament to their pricing philosophy of adding an additional premium to maintain brand exclusivity.
Read Also: Does Louis Vuitton Have Sales.
Supply & Demand
The demand for Louis Vuitton merchandise will always exceed the supply. With little added effort, Vuitton could produce 100-times the amount of merchandise they do today.
But, doing so would dilute the brand, making it more commonplace and less desirable to the high-end market.
Not only does Louis Vuitton manufacture their goods in short supply, but they also tightly control unsold merchandise.
While most manufacturers will discount goods that are past season to recoup on merchandise that would otherwise remain unsold, Vuitton does not.
While it may come as a shock, when luxury houses like LV have unsold past season merchandise, they destroy it instead of discounting it.
This practice prevents excess merchandise from flooding the market and ensures the brand’s exclusivity.
If you own a piece of Louis Vuitton merchandise, it was no doubt purchased at full price or on the second-hand market, where pieces often sell used for nearly as much as they cost in stores.
Raw Material Selection
Another significant factor determining the price of Louis Vuitton goods is the quality of the raw materials that they use in production.
As a premium product in every sense of the word, the craftspeople at LV go through a detailed process to select raw materials and refine them for bags, luggage, apparel, and accessories.
The process begins with all new materials being audited for quality. Any defective or damaged material is destroyed.
Once the raw materials have been accepted for production, they are refined almost entirely by hand. In the case of LV’s iconic animal leathers, they’re hand-burnished with agate stones to produce their characteristic shine.
The selection and refinement processes are equally painstaking for Vuitton’s coated canvas goods as it is for the leather products.
The quality control on Louis Vuitton goods is second to none. You can rest assured that any piece you see either in one of Vuitton’s stores or a luxury retailer is flawlessly crafted from the world’s finest materials.
Every piece of merchandise is painstakingly checked for quality and uniformity. Stitching is identical from bag to bag, as is the placement of pockets, reinforcements, and decorative flourishes.
Simply put, you will never find a production error, loose stitch, or questionable piece of material when you’re dealing with Louis Vuitton.
Louis Vuitton handbags are expected to withstand up to over a decade of abuse, and most owners report getting 20-years or more of use from their Louie.
The costs of manufacturing luxury goods are significantly higher than what it costs to produce goods at a more production-minded facility.
Not only do luxury companies use the highest quality materials, but the production is handled by artisan level craftspeople, many with decades of experience producing goods for Louis Vuitton.
As you would imagine, craftspeople with this level of skill receive a higher wage than the less-skilled workers that produce goods for brands without the pedigree of Louis Vuitton.
Read Also: Cheapest Louis Vuitton Bags
The elite craftspeople who produce Louis Vuitton goods earn a much higher wage than less-skilled workers in more production-minded facilities.
The facilities that produce Louis Vuitton goods are also in countries with strong labor protections.
This sends manufacturing costs into the stratosphere for the manufacturer, as it is significantly more expensive to produce merchandise in these countries than in countries known for inexpensive labor.
Louis Vuitton manufactures bags and luggage in facilities in France, Spain, or the United States.
Most production of leather goods takes place at their facility near Paris, while coated canvas goods and others are made between the factories in Spain and the U.S.
Pieces from their ready-to-wear collections, footwear, most jewelry, and sunglasses are manufactured at facilities in France and Italy.
Louis Vuitton manufactures timepieces exclusively at their facility in Geneva, Switzerland, which was opened in 2013.
Read Also: How to Spot a Fake Louis Vuitton Bag
Louis Vuitton merchandise is available at over 500 outlets worldwide, and each of these outlets and pop-up shops is maintained by the Louis Vuitton brand.
Even when Louis Vuitton is sold in department stores and other outlets, the retail space is leased and controlled by the brand, not the store itself.
This translates to massive costs for rent or property ownership. It also means that Louis Vuitton is responsible for all of the displays and showcases throughout their retail portfolio, which adds increasing costs to the fray.
Louis Vuitton flagship stores, in particular, offer an ever-changing array of displays and showcases, and the store itself becomes like a work of art.
Plus, you won’t find a Louis Vuitton store in a small town; you can only find them in the most high-end shopping districts on Earth, where rent is exorbitant.
Advertising Campaign Costs
There aren’t many brands in the world that are more well-known for their advertising than Louis Vuitton.
The brand spares no expense in marketing their products on the luxury market, and they are quick to tap the hottest celebrities in music, movies, fashion, and culture when they create their visionary advertising.
The brand has collaborated with superstars like Angelina Jolie, Pharrell, Jennifer Lopez, Kanye West, Mikhail Gorbachev, Sean Connery, and many more.
Louis Vuitton has launched the careers of countless models, and they have also used some of the hottest and most sought-after models in campaigns.
This type of cultural cache doesn’t come cheap, and the Vuitton brand spends millions each year for the hottest stars and celebrities to appear in their campaigns.
Beyond the stars and celebrities that Louis Vuitton has paid money to work with, there are countless more who rep the brand simply because of the quality and status it represents.
Few things drive the value of a brand, like cosigns from celebrities and tastemakers, and there’s no shortage of famous people wearing Louis Vuitton in photos, videos, or on TV.
This popularity serves as free advertising, which further elevates the brand and allows Louis Vuitton to command the highest prices for its goods.
Read also: Best Designer Bags Under $1,000
Research & Development
Many of the pieces in the Louis Vuitton collection each year are items that the brand has produced for a century or longer.
Even then, every piece the brand made went through rigorous testing, and changes were made at each step to ensure the utmost in durability, quality, and luxury.
For new products, the research and development process is even more stringent. Zippers are opened thousands of times to ensure their integrity, and bags are weighted and dropped from specific heights for a week straight or longer.
This stringent development and testing process ensure that every new piece that carries the brand’s name will carry in the Louis Vuitton tradition of exquisite craftsmanship and durability.
Of course, such development comes at a significant cost for the brand. The goods being tested are all of premier quality, and the testing is carried out in one of the Louis Vuitton production facilities.
Skilled testers oversee the process, and they use expensive equipment to facilitate the tests.
All these factors represent significant costs for the brand, and they are one of the reasons why the cost of a Louis Vuitton bag is so expensive.
Read Also: How to Sell a Louis Vuitton Bag
The Louis Vuitton brand has two things going for it regarding the resale market. For one, the bags are incredibly well made and built to stand up to years of use.
The cultural relevance of the brand also helps to ensure that LV goods hold their value exceptionally well.
Not only does used merchandise command high prices on the secondary market, but vintage pieces in new condition will appreciate, often outpacing many other popular investments.
It isn’t uncommon for wealthy individuals to purchase luxury goods like Louis Vuitton bags and purses as part of their investment strategy.
Investing in quality Louis Vuitton merchandise, knowing that it holds its value, is another reason why the bags are so much money.
Final Thoughts on Why is Louis Vuitton so Expensive
When it comes to the question of why Louis Vuitton is so expensive, there is a myriad of factors that contribute to the high price this luxury atelier commands.
The world’s best materials and craftsmanship, coupled with the exclusive and limited nature of the products, which have been en vogue for over 160 years, make Louis Vuitton one of the world’s top luxury brands.
While Louis Vuitton might not be attainable for everyone, the brand stands as a testament to classic French luxury. Anyone can appreciate the incredible design and craftsmanship of Louis Vuitton goods.
You May Also Like: