AN ANCIENT HISTORY
Louis Vuitton made a decision when he was sixteen years old that would impact not only his life but the lives of his kids and future generations: he would become a trunk-master.
HOW IT ALL STARTED
Louis Vuitton's history as a trunk maker predates the company's inception.
In 1837, a 16-year-old Louis Vuitton came in Paris on foot and began working for Monsieur Maréchal as an apprentice. Horse-drawn carriages, boats, and railroads were the primary ways of transportation at the period, and cargo was handled in a rough manner. Craftsmen were hired by travelers to pack and secure their personal belongings.
At Monsieur Maréchal's Parisian atelier, Louis Vuitton soon established himself as a respected craftsman. These were the beginnings of his highly specialized vocation; the start of a career in an artisanal sector that required talents to custom design boxes and, subsequently, trunks to clients' specifications. Louis Vuitton stayed for 17 years before setting up store at 4 Rue Neuve-des-Capucines, near the Place Vendome.
A LEGENDARY WORKSHOP ON ASNIRES
Since 1859, the Asnières site has been a symbol of the Vuitton family's personal and professional success as both a family mansion and the company's cradle.
Louis Vuitton's early success required him to extend his operations. This led to the establishment of his atelier in Asnières in 1859. The workshop, which is located just northeast of Paris's central business district, began with 20 employees. There were almost 100 persons in 1900, and there were 225 in 1914.
The original atelier has been enlarged throughout the years, including the addition of the Vuitton family mansion, but it remains the site of product creation today. While the family home has been preserved and is now part of a private museum, the Asnières business employs 170 artisans who design and manufacture leather items and special orders for clients all over the world.
A LOCK THAT CANNOT BE PICKED
Georges Vuitton reinvented luggage locks in 1886 with a clever locking method that transformed travel trunks into true treasure chests.
THE TUMBLER'S KEY
Travelers in the early 1900s stored all of their belongings in wardrobes and flat trunks, which unfortunately attracted robbers. Louis Vuitton, a master trunk manufacturer, wanted to help his customers secure the items within their travel bags.
Georges and his father, Georges, adopted a single lock method with two spring buckles in 1886. George copyrighted this groundbreaking approach after several years of development, and it was so effective that he challenged Harry Houdini, the famed American escape artist, in a public publication.
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