A couple days ago, I had the great honor of being invited for the second time in my life to a Louis Vuitton factory. The first time, was at their original factory in Asnieres, France, which I wrote about here. The second time was on Friday at their top secret location outside of Los Angeles. For me, it was as close to Charlie in The Chocolate Factory as I'll ever get.
It is truly the Holy Grail for bag makers. I was strictly forbidden from taking pictures - much to my chagrin. But I get it, they seem to have this little problem with counterfeiting and such so it's kind of a big deal not to let any ol' person with a blog take pictures inside the facility. :) We sat through a brief lecture by our host - the French director of the factory - on the history of the House of Vuitton and the many meticulous details which make a Vuitton bag special; we toured the leather storage hangar; watched as the hides were obsessively checked for imperfections before they're sent inside the factory; were gobsmacked in front of futuristic cutting machines; stared at sewers making perfect stitch after perfect stitch; observed as women in Vuitton-brown lab coats scrutinized and tugged-at each bag giving new meaning to the words "quality control" before they were put into the cozy dustbag to be shipped to it's new rightful owner.
I came home from the tour and immediately pulled out my classic, cute "Speedy" - which this model is called - it is the only Vuitton item I own and it is going to be more present in my life. My authentic Speedy is from an estate sale in the boonies of northern California. My good friend was elated to find it a few months back. She has no interest in fashion, but she knew she'd have to buy this bag for me. Not only did she buy it, she put it in the post that very day with my address. Those are good friends.
We saw so many things in the couple hours or so it took us to tour the factory, and I'll retain it all preciously in my own private photo vault in my head, but one thing I'll say for Vuitton is they without question know how to run an impeccable state-of-the-art factory, treat employees (artisans as they are called there) with respect and dignity, and they make an incredible product. I dare say their products are worth every single dime they cost. I can't afford one in good conscious, but if I could, I would feel proud of it knowing where it came from. :)
Here is a cool video for their new book "Louis Vuitton: 100 Legendary Trunks."