I recently read an article in the May Wall Street Journal Magazine about designers that have been in existence for many years yet who have lost their core customer base. Brands watered down by over-popularity. Think Burberry, Gucci, or Louis Vuitton. The article focused on Louis Vuitton, which has been making trunks, luggage, and bags since 1854.
Audrey Hepburn famously popularized LV in the 1960's with her chic Speedy 25.
I remember being in elementary school in the 1980's and noticing my friend Molly's mom had a Louis Vuitton bag. It was similar in style to this one.
At that point, I didn't know much about LV or any other fancy designers. But what I did know was that it was chic; it was stylish; and no one in my school would know what it was. So I saved up my allowance (that took a LONG time!) and went to the Louis Vuitton boutique inside Belks (anyone else remember this?) and bought my first LV bag. A pochette, for about $100.
I carried it for a few years before LV started popping up everywhere. I think it was a combination of the booming economy as well as the sudden availability of counterfeit manufacturing facilities, but from the late 1990's until very recently, the world has been overrun with Louis Vuitton, both real and fake. As the brand became more popular, prices increased dramatically. And they never ever go on sale. If a bag does not sell well, LV destroys it rather than putting it on sale. I hope they destroyed this one:
I know quite a few people who kept track of price increases and would buy a few bags the day before an increase, "just to be safe." LV bags weren't cheap to start with, but many of them tripled in price over a 10-15 year period. But people kept buying them. While studying abroad during college, my friends and I stocked up because the exchange rate made it so much cheaper in Europe. What a crazy fascination we had with these bags. They symbolized luxury, but everyone had them. What about the expression that "Ubiquity is the antithesis of luxury"?
I think the worldwide obsession with LV culminated with the introduction of the Murakami line.
These colorful bags were knocked-off time and time again, and by that point, alot of people were getting sick of seeing the logos everywhere. Real or fake, it was all you saw, and LV really started to lose its connotation with style or exclusivity.
Over the past couple of years, the logo-obsession has seemed to die down. Human rights groups have successfully campaigned against counterfeit bags, which are often produced by child laborers and workers in horrible conditions. Due to the economy, the days of conspicuous consumption are over for many Americans. I really don't see logos on every corner as in the past.
The premise of the WSJ article is that the LV logo craze is over, so it's time to dust off those bags that have been sitting quietly on your closet shelf for a few years. Enough time has passed that Louis Vuitton's intended purchasers are carrying their bags again. The classic LV bag is once again chic.
What do you think? If you have pushed LV to the side for the past few years, do you plan to start carrying it again soon? Or is it too early? Tell us your thoughts!