The firm of Louis Vuitton has been in business since 1854 and is now part of the conglomerate Louis Vuitton-Moet Hennessey, referred to as LVMH. Since its origin, the firm has been a designer and producer of quality luggage, specializing in the design and production of luggage for unique needs. In the early twentieth century, it was a natural extension of the luggage industry to expand into the area of accessories that use the same materials and production techniques. In this expansion, the firm focused on handbags, an area in which Louis Vuitton has developed a reputation for luxury, quality, and design ingenuity.
Louis Vuitton now produces a range of accessories such as wallets, belts, pouches and cosmetics cases in addition to handbags, and has recently expanded into a limited line of jewelry. The accessories division also produces specialty goods such as leather-covered pens that are targeted at the luxury office goods market. The materials that the firm uses focus primarily on leather such as epi and exotic. It has also expanded into products made with damask, monogram and other types of canvas, which are sold at a lower price than the leather goods and permit a wider range of design expression. This demonstrates the adaptability of the firm to respond to the changing perception of need among its upscale client base. The trend towards casual clothes has created a demand in the luxury market for distinctive accessories that set a person apart, which the firm has been able to exploit.
In order to meet the increasing worldwide demand for Louis Vuitton accessories, the traditional technique used by the firm of handcrafting each piece has been modified. The special orders department continues to follow the old methods of producing each item from start to finish by hand. Many of the accessories produced by the firm, however, are made with a modified machine production technique, with some of the work done by machine. The finish work continues to be done by hand to insure the quality and durability of goods that the firm is known for. The firm’s cost of production is generally lower than that of its competitors because of its long-standing relationships with suppliers. This enables Louis Vuitton to devote a great deal of attention to quality control, which it believes is the cornerstone of maintaining its position in the luxury accessory market. As a result, each piece is carefully inspected before shipment. The firm is known for the durability and longevity of its products, which tend to appreciate in value over time. The special services offered by the accessories division primarily focuses on the special order of specifically designed pieces. Because of the extraordinarily high cost, this does not represent a significant amount of the firm’s business.