We’ve been following along with the story of Louis Vuitton’s very publicly shifting accessories strategy very closely, and each time we update you on it, you guys have a lot to say. The story and Vuitton’s attitudes toward its customers bring out a lot of opinions, both for and against the brand’s attempts to shift its focus to a more leather-centric, higher-dollar customer, but we’ve never asked you guys straight-up whether or not the shift has affected your own purchasing behavior. Today, we want to find out.

First, we figure that you guys fit into two groups: people who consider themselves current Vuitton customers and those who do not. For those who consider them customers, especially those of you who buy primarily from the canvas lines (monogram or otherwise), do you feel slighted by LV’s attitude toward its entry-level customers? Do you consider yourself an entry-level costumer of the brand? Do you feel less likely to shop with Vuitton because of its attitude, and if you do, where will you be spending your handbag dollars in the future?

If you’re not currently a Louis Vuitton customer but shop from other high-end handbag lines, this shift in Vuitton’s strategy is targeted toward you. Do you find the idea of more discreet, logo-absent Vuitton leather goods interesting? Would you be willing to spend $4,000 or more on a leather bag from the brand if you liked the design and thought the materials merited the price, or do visions of teenagers carrying monogram Neverfulls dance in your head no matter what? Will the upcoming change in creative leadership, rumored to be focused on former Balenciaga designer Nicolas Ghesquiere, affect your opinion, or do you feel like your perceptions of Louis Vuitton are already set in stone, for better or for worse?

Much has been made, both by us and by our commenters, over Louis Vuitton’s highly publicized strategy shift toward higher prices in hopes of discouraging entry-level luxury consumers and appealing more to customers in the Hermes income bracket. The strategy includes both price-increases on existing products and the production of more top-tier bags in leather and exotics instead of Vuitton’s signature coated canvas (often with its attendant monogram), and the latest bag to show up as a result of those plans is the Louis Vuitton Alma Bag in Taurillon Leather. (more…)

According to the Telegraph, third quarter growth for LVMH weakened to just two percent, an outcome which the conglomerate’s recent shift in strategy probably predicted. Although that’s still growth, it’s certainly a marked shift from what the world’s largest luxury company is used to and the kind of growth its counted on in the past. In LVMH’s heyday, quarterly grown was often as high as ten percent, and it had fallen to five to six percent earlier this year.

Although LVMH, which owns Louis Vuitton in addition to noted handbag purveyors like Celine, Dior and Givenchy, doesn’t break results down by brand, it does indicate which product categories have been weakest, and apparently this decline in growth is a result of decreased sales in the formerly cash-flush categories of fashion and leather goods, perfume and cosmetics and watches and jewelry. Those are the “Big Three” categories that luxury companies can usually rely on to bring in the steadiest cash flow.

Louis Vuitton has long been LVMH’s biggest cash cow, and perception problems with its monogram bags have begun to haunt the brand. Namely, customers at the highest end of the market, those who shop the most frequently and spend the most money, perceive Vuitton to be a brand that caters to a less sophisticated segment of the market, to put it delicately. When you pair that with a market that no longer makes Celine Luggage Totes and Trapeze Bags disappear off the shelves instantly (and with no super-buzzy replacement in sight from Celine), LVMH’s shift in strategy seems well-timed.

As we told you when the story first broke, LVMH’s strategy is to go after those big-fish customers that are now somewhat leery of its marquee brand. That means raising prices overall to discourage low-end customers and renewing the company’s focus on leather instead of monogram canvas. The first indicators of that strategy have already reached the public, including producing the entry-level Neverfull bag in pricey leather and introducing several all-leather bags with more limited use of the company’s logo.

Considering all of that, Marc Jacobs’ recent exodus from the brand comes at what may, in fact, be an opportune time. Even though Jacobs was generally an enormous boon to Louis Vuitton’s handbag business, it appears that his particular brand of magic was beginning to wear off. Fashion is almost always willing to reconsider a historic name with a new creative talent at the helm (hello, Celine), so if LVMH ever gets Nicolas Ghesquiere to sign on the dotted line, we might be in for some fun.

Wednesday’s news that Marc Jacobs would make his Louis Vuitton Spring 2014 show his last as the creative leader of the brand was a lot of things, but it wasn’t exactly surprising. Rumors had been swirling for months that talks to extend Jacobs’ 16-year tenure at the brand weren’t going anywhere, and in the days before the show, news outlets like Women’s Wear Daily reported that the decision had been made that Jacobs would leave to focus on expanding his own brand, in which LVMH is a major investor. It’s a major move that has a lot of implications across the fashion industry, starting with the rumors about who will take over at Louis Vuitton and what it means for the brand’s bags. (more…)

All the rumors were true, as they so often are. Yesterday’s Louis Vuitton Spring 2014 show was Marc Jacobs’ last at the helm of the brand that he’s lead for 16 years, drawing to an end one of the most prolific and lucrative partnerships in modern fashion history. Jacobs’ has never been a man for subtle statements, and he went out in a way that only he could – with an almost entirely black show that referenced some of his greatest hits for the brand and closed with a round of showgirls wearing little more than thousands of meticulously placed jet beads.

There were handbags, of course – it’s Louis Vuitton we’re talking about, after all. They weren’t the kinds of bags that we’re used to seeing from LV, though, and they didn’t take over the show in the same way that they often have in the past. Instead, a portion of the models carried variations on one very specific theme: black bucket bags. They were adorned with everything from studs to feathers, but the basics of the bag never changed. Also, they weren’t based on the famous Louis Vuitton Noe Bag, which was the first of its kind back when it was invented to carry champagne. The bags didn’t conform to any of Louis Vuitton’s “codes” at all, actually. Marc Jacobs left as he arrived – firmly himself, marching to the beat in his head, waiting for the rest of us to pick it up.

[Photos via Vogue.com]

At the time of this writing, we don’t know if Marc Jacobs’ show today for Louis Vuitton will be the last in his 16-year tenure as the creative leader of the incredibly powerful French brand. What we do know, however, is what Jacobs has done for Vuitton so far, which is nothing short of turning the brand into a household name with one of the most iconic logos in fashion history. He’s interpreted and re-interpreted Vuitton’s signature details and bags time and again for a modern audience, and recently, CR Fashion Book went behind the scenes to witness the making of the latest Louis Vuitton Speedy Bag.

CR’s “Anatomy of a Bag” series, which has featured the likes of Hermes and Dior in the past, and now it’s on to another French fashion giant. The Speedy in question is a dazzling blue mini version in embossed python, which retails for $6,500 at Louis Vuitton stores. According to writer Christopher Bartley, this Speedy takes over 400 steps to manufacture and comprises 21 individual pieces of python, leather and hardware. Below, check out our favorite behind-the-scenes shots from the CR shoot, or head on over to the mag’s website and read the full story. Also, you can shop Louis Vuitton via the brand’s official site.

Here’s Katie Holmes cruising around solo in NYC, carrying a Louis Vuitton Mon Monogram Neverfull Tote. In a rare move for a celeb (or anyone), Katie seems to have opted out of getting her Neverfull monogrammed, choosing instead to go with a custom-color stripe alone. Katie has quite a nuanced designer bag collection, which you can view in its entirety in “The Many Bags of Katie Holmes”! You can customize your own Mon Monogram for $1,440 at Louis Vuitton.

We can’t successfully ID Katie’s other, rather ambiguous looking black leather bag, but feel free to take your best guess. Lest we forget, Katie Holmes does have a career other than paparazzi dodging – she took a break from acting immediately before and after her divorce from Tom Cruise, but she currently has four different films in the works.

Kate Holmes carries a Louis Vuitton Mon Monogram Neverfull Tote in NYC (1) Kate Holmes carries a Louis Vuitton Mon Monogram Neverfull Tote in NYC (2) Kate Holmes carries a Louis Vuitton Mon Monogram Neverfull Tote in NYC (3) Kate Holmes carries a Louis Vuitton Mon Monogram Neverfull Tote in NYC (4)

Here’s Sarah Jessica Parker, about to treat a nearby paparazzo to some very creative hand gestures while walking her son to school in New York City. On her arm is a sunny yellow Louis Vuitton W Bag with flocked monogram motifs. The W is a new LV bag for this season; it’s so new, it’s not even available online yet, but we know that Sarah’s all-leather PM version retails for $4,400. Be sure to check out the rest of SPJ’s extra luxe bag stash in “The Many Bags of Sarah Jessica Parker”.

Amanda just recently introduced our readers to the Louis Vuitton W a couple weeks. The bag comes in several different varieties of mixed coated canvas, tonal leather, and inventive motifs. There’s also at least one edition of the bag that features no monograms at all! (GASP!) Despite my general distaste for monograms, I really like this bag in some of its darker, more subtle variations.

With Louis Vuitton’s renewed interest in high-dollar, logo-wary customers has come a bevy of new products that are set to take the brand in a new, more sophisticated direction for Fall 2013. First came the wide-gusseted W Bag, which had commenter reactions seemingly split right down the middle, and now we have the Louis Vuitton Capucines Bag, which borrows the name and a detail or two from a classic Vuitton bag but expands on them to form something ladylike and luxurious.

We first spotted this bag on the arm of Angelina Jolie a couple of weeks ago, and it’s a perfect pick for her style – neutral, elegant, understated. The bag is an important addition to Vuitton’s lineup, because not only is it all leather (which appeals to Vuitton’s desired clientele and allows the brand to price it prohibitively for aspirational customers), but its minimally branded. The LV that you see above is totally optional, and if the wearer prefers, it can be covered by a flap that’s tucked inside in promotional photos. Instead of the well-known letters, it bears a more subtle star motif that plays a secondary role in the iconic Vuitton monogram print. It’s still LV, but it’s not a literal LV, which is an important distinction for many of the most high-end customers.

The bag comes in two sizes, MM and GM, with a 1.5 inch difference in width between them (14.2 for the MM, 15.7 for the GM) and a price difference of $450 ($5,150 vs. $5,600). That kind of pricing puts the brand firmly in Hermes territory, a comparison that Vuitton is likely hoping to draw with its new leather offerings and their attendant prices. Currently, the GM only comes in two colors (black and red), while the MM comes in a range of six shades, including one that’s strikingly similar to Hermes’ signature orange. The bags’ hardware varies between silver and gold, depending on the leather color. Check out some of our favorite versions below or get more information about both the MM and GM versions via Louis Vuitton.

Actually, this is a bit of a re-introduction or, perhaps, a formal introduction. Many of you have already seen the new Louis Vuitton W Bag in the arms of Michelle Williams, who stars in the brand’s fall handbag ads, but now we have a close-up look at all five versions of the bag, which is one of Vuitton’s marquee new pieces for Fall 2013. (more…)

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