Louis Vuitton was born on August 4th, 1821, in a water mill in Chabouilla, close to Archay, some 40 kilometers to the north east of Bourg-en-Bresse, a small village of 148 in Jura, in Franche-Comté, in a humble setting. While still very young, he learned to uses the tools under his father who was a miller and a carpenter.
In 1835, when he was 14 years old, he went to try his luck at Paris and walked the 400 kilometers from his village to the capital. By 1837, he had started his career as an apprentice as layetier-emballeur-malletier, a profession that back then used to pack the numerous items of rich clients who went on a trip, and he started to handle the travel chests. His work was so good that the Emperor himself charged him with the care of the items of Empress Eugenie and thus, he became well-known through his know-how between the richest of clients.
The means of transportation started to be modernized due to the steam engine and both international and tourism of well-off classes starts to increase due to the steam train and the steam boat. Louis Vuitton realizes then that there is a new need for innovative baggage with several characteristics aimed to please the new clients: high quality, luxury, functionality and originality.
In 1854, he founds the Louis Vuitton brand and he opens his first store in the Neuve-des-Capucines Street, close to the Vendome plaza (there are still sings over the glass display in Champs-Elysees where “Louis Vuitton, malletier in Paris, house founded in 1854″). Louis invented the Louis Vuitton flat-bottom trunk, which was comfortable, practical and of high quality, much easier to stack for long distance travel than traditional rounded top trunks.
In 1859, his company grows and he transfers his workshop of about twenty employees to Asnieres-sur-Seine, next to the Seine River, in order to take advantage of fluvial transportation. He and his wife have their residence built close to the workshop, which later became a museum, in a street later renamed Louis Vuitton Street.
In 1867, he attends the International Exposition that took place in Paris, with the purpose of showing his collection to clients from all over the country, as well as some who came from overseas.
In the decade that started in 1870, he was joined by his son Georges Vuitton, who encouraged him to expand his business overseas. In 1885, he opened his first store out of France with success on Oxford Street in London, followed by the ones in New York and Philadelphia.
By 1888, he had been so successful that his collection had started to be imitated. In an effort to fight the first imitators, he created the Damier Canvas pattern, which bore a logo that read “marque L. Vuitton déposée,” which is French for “Brand L. Vuitton deposited,” the French equivalent of a trademark.
He died in 1892, leaving his company to his son George, who helped the company reach new successes.