Louis Vuitton was born into a humble family in the Jura in 1821. At the age of 14, he left his region for Paris, four hundred kilometres away. Two years later, he became an apprentice with a “box-maker, packer and trunk-maker”, making travel chests.
From 1852 onwards, he looked after the clothes of Empress Eugenie, and his knowhow was recognised by the wealthiest of clients. It was the time of the rise of international tourism for the most well-to-do. Louis Vuitton realised that there was a need for a new kind of high-quality luggage. In 1854, he opened his first store dedicated to this new trend, close to Place Vendôme.
Five years later, to make the most of waterway transport, the workshops moved to Asnières-sur-Seine. Louis Vuitton also had his house built there, and the location was to become the nerve centre of his company.
In 1870, Louis Vuitton was joined by his son Georges, who encouraged him to develop the brand abroad. In 1885, a store in London was opened. This was followed by stores in New York and Philadelphia.
When Louis Vuitton died in 1892, his son Georges took over, with the help of his family. The Firm was passed down through the generations and has remained just as successful as in the days of its founder. In 1987, under the leadership of Odile Vuitton, Louis Vuitton's great-granddaughter, the brand – which had become a multinational company – merged with Moët Hennessy, a wines and spirits group. This resulted in the birth of what was to become the luxury giant LVMH.
In 1989, the businessman Bernard Arnault became the firm's majority shareholder and diversified the brand into off-the-peg collections, perfume and stationery.
In 2002, the Firm launched its watchmaking line with a manufacture based in La Chaux-de-Fonds; in 2011 it acquired the knowhow of Fabrique du Temps, a fine watchmaking workshop in Geneva specialising in the design and production of exceptional watchmaking movements.