Louis Vuitton founded his eponymous company in Paris in 1854.
Just to put that in context, that is 7 years before the American Civil War.
Since then the luxury trunk maker has evolved into a fashion powerhouse that went from luggage to clothing and now diversifying into furniture, ping pong tables and skateboards. One peek at their new ART OF LIVING collection shot in Palm Springs and you get a good sense of how far they have vertically moved..
We are all some what familiar with the LV monogram and the signature brown and beige colors that spurred thousands of imitations over the years.
But beyond its instant recognizable identity, how has it remained so relevant, exclusive and still so coveted?
We have seen much younger luxury companies, notably Christian Dior, (now Dior), Yves Saint Laurent (now Saint Laurent) and Gucci, going through downward cycles and bouts of bankruptcy diluting their brands with fast and easy licensing deals.
Imagine Louis Vuitton licensing their brand. Unheard of.
In my opinion, Louis Vuitton is the only fashion house of its size, that has retained its quality, craftsmanship and has been at the forefront of innovation. They remain exclusive while constantly reevaluating and reinventing their business model. They are willing to break barriers and they never cut corners.
And to remain relevant in the year 2023 a company must surely reinvent and adapt. And boy have they done that. One primary reason is bold and brave leadership. Owned by LVMH, the world's leading luxury products group, with CEO Bernard Arnault at the helm, the company has exploded over recent years.
Case in point, the company recently appointed the rap artist Pharrell as creative director of the menswear line succeeding Marc Jacobs and the late Virgil Abloh.
Pharell's new collection will debut next June during Paris fashion week.
It doesn't take a genius to realize what will be the hottest ticket in town.
The appointment of Pharrell is a surprise in some circles, since he has no prior experience in designing a complete menswear line, other than some brief collaborations with the brand, but it is that unconventional approach that Louis Vuitton is willing to take to stay relevant. By recognizing that fashion, music, urban culture and art are all intertwined - Pharrell seems to embody all that and LV recognizes that.
It goes without saying that a brand to have longevity it needs to be nurtured like. an infant and be consistent on all touch points with their customers.
In the fickle world of fashion you need to push all boundaries. And that does not mean putting the obvious crazy outfit on a model down the runway. It takes visionary leadership and courage. And I am convinced that Louis Vuitton has both.
- Christos Joannides