Generally, when a brand is secretive, you expect something good to be up its sleeves. Like really good. Like a rare exotic purse with genuine diamond-encrusted hardware or a limited edition collab with one of the modern-day’s most prominent street-style geniuses that not even celebrities can get their hands on as quickly as they’d like to.

But instead, if what you find underneath all the reticence happens to be (yet another) coated canvas tote, doesn’t all the brouhaha fall rather short of your expectations? And when rich ladies, models, actresses, and fashion folk appear to be scrambling to get one (or more) for themselves, it becomes baffling. I mean, it is, after all, coated canvas, right? Herein lies the paradoxical appeal of the Maison Goyard, the oldest fashion house in the world.

But First, Some Facts

For the unrehearsed, before becoming Goyard, the company was known as the House of Martin and Morel, which had been specializing in the art of trunk and box manufacturing since 1792 (thus, making it the oldest fashion house to still be operating, albeit under a different name). In 1845, Monsieur Morel hired the 17-year old François Goyard as an apprentice. And in 1853, one year before the founding of the house of Louis Vuitton, Goyard bought off the business from Morel and named it the Maison Goyard, remaining at its helm over the course of the next 32 years and eventually passing it on to his son, Edmond, in 1885. Under Edmond’s tenure, the house became a trustworthy name in the business of trunk-making for the elite, with an equally regal storefront on Rue Saint-Honoré in Paris and state-of-the-art ateliers specializing in product quality and craftsmanship. And the house stands by this artisanal characteristic – not even a 1998 acquisition by Signoles put a dent on its traditional methods – continuing to be a family-operated company to date!

Goyard Storefront via Vox

The Goyard Flagship Store in Paris image via Vox

The Notorious Secrecy of Goyard

Honestly, though, Goyard’s products and trunks aren’t THAT difficult to come by. In fact, if you looked hard enough, you might have spotted Goyard trunks on the recent Dwayne Johnson-film Jungle Cruise, or the St. Louis tote in The White Lotus, and of course, you’re likely to see celebrities carrying one in and out of the gym on any given day. Plus, if you type in “Goyard” on most resale sites like Fashionphile, The RealReal, or eBay, you’ll likely come across many options in an expansive range of sizes and colorways.

However, if you’d like to purchase a Goyard at retail, you’d likely tumble into a spiral of weirdness that even Hermès’ games can’t match up to. Firstly, Goyard only sells at a select few stores – 35 around the world, to be exact – with only six in the US, in New York, Chicago, Dallas, Miami, Beverly Hills, and San Francisco, alongside a few store-in-store boutiques at Bergdorf Goodman (and at Barney’s back when Barney’s, well, existed). Secondly, Goyard is perhaps the only luxury brand to not sell anything online. Absolutely nothing. It wasn’t even possible to get a clear idea of the range of bags and luggage they sell until recently when it appears that they added a product list, although none are for sale over the virtual medium. In fact, the brand didn’t even have an Instagram account until 2016 (although, to be fair, since I got mine only last year, I shouldn’t really be complaining), in an era when the social media platform has become crucial for designers to showcase their work.

Additionally, the fashion house never stages fashion shows or splashy product launches, doesn’t advertise or promote itself in any major way, and, as to public relations, Racked magazine describes the brand’s response to an interview request, ‘they politely declined and explained that their “official policy is to not speak directly to the press,” and that this is something they “literally never do.”

They also noted that the brand “firmly believes in values such as exclusivity and discretion” and suggested we reach out to Chanel’s Karl Lagerfeld for comment instead.’

Gee, would any other brand have the gall to actually redirect journalists to a fashion demigod (because is Lagerfeld anything less than that?) to comment on them, that too on their behalf? Very unlikely!

Goyard Goyardine Tote

So Why is Goyard So Popular?

If the brand appealed to a class of fashion VIPs as broad as Lagerfeld, Coco Chanel, the Duke of Windsor, and Kanye West, there must be something extraordinary about it, right? To begin with, it is its sense of exclusivity that is primarily appealing to many. Take the St. Louis tote, for instance. Built from coated canvas with leather trims, structurally and conceptually, it isn’t all that different from the Louis Vuitton Neverfull or the Michael Kors Jet Set Tote. But because of its unique brand value and heritage, and because it is so difficult to get your hands on one, it garners an appreciation that more mainstream brands like LV, Chanel, and Gucci rarely receive. Some attribute this reticence to mean that their focus on artisanal craftsmanship speaks for itself; no other form of marketing is necessary. Others opine that, since it continues to be a family-owned business, the quantitative, shareholder-oriented nature of brands operated by luxury giants cease to be a concern for Goyard. As a result, when major fashion houses, Hermès included (especially with its ever-increasing demand for Birkins), face a trade-off between exclusivity and availability, the decision for the Maison Goyard is much simpler. As Amanda sums up in this piece,

“Goyard doesn’t want to attempt the extremely common fashion industry balancing act of claiming its products are rare and precious and still trying to sell $300 cardholders to every person on Earth; the brand would simply rather not sell the cardholders.”

Goyard Goyardine Tote 1

My Take on Goyard

But the problem, you see, is that Goyard does, in fact, sell cardholders. And SLGs account for a pretty big portion of its sales (as apparent from discussions by commenters and tPFers because Goyard never reveals how much sales it’s making). Only they don’t sell via as many avenues as its counterparts do. Now, while I understand the secretive appeal of that, it does come with rather mixed baggage.

Firstly, a quick skim of most Goyard-related threads on the PurseForum shows that some users have reported quality issues as much as any other brand. As the commenter, janels1, explains

“The St. Louis is one of the very few Goyard bags with resin (breakable like plastic) inside the bottom of the handles where it meets the bag. I had mine for a few months and folded over the handles, causing the handles to crack at the base, and also caused the leather to crack there. I was told by Goyard that I wasn’t supposed to fold over the handles on this very flexible bag, and it cost me over $200 to have the handles replaced. I stay in Paris a lot, near Goyard, and they have told me on many occasions that the St. Louis was designed by Goyard as a beach bag, and not meant to be a purse.”

If the brand’s most famous purse isn’t even meant to be used as a purse, isn’t this something the brand should have addressed by now? For a lot of buyers, their first designer purse/grown-up bag/work tote is a choice between the Goyard St. Louis and the Louis Vuitton Neverfull. And early into this comparison, a major concern becomes apparent – the St. Louis has absolutely no form of closure whatsoever, compared to the Neverfull’s, albeit minimal, securing mechanism. Now, you might say that there are other tote options from Goyard, like the Artois and the Anjou. Still, those are also higher up on the pricing spectrum than the Neverfull, which is a big consideration, especially if you happen to be a first-time purchaser. How do you choose then?

Goyar Artois Tote

Secondly, the brand’s monogram print, which actually features a symbolic Y-print fashioned from collections of dots resembling the Goyard family’s history as log drivers, is no longer hand-painted as it was in the beginning. Rather, it is made via a mechanized processes, perhaps not entirely unlike the Neverfull, and possess a plasticky texture not too dissimilar from waterproof grocery totes.

It’s true that you won’t come across a Goyard in the wild as often as an LV (depending on where you live), and many have deemed it “a secret club of the elite,” but is it really worth the hassle of having to travel half-way across the world to get one, and then again, to get repairs done and/or problems sorted? And if you’d like to opt for personalizing your Goyard through a combination of initials, stars, or stripes, which, thankfully, is still hand-painted at the brand’s select few ateliers in Beverly Hills, New York, Mexico, Tokyo, Hong Kong, Brazil or Carcassone, France, you’d still have to hang around for a fair bit near the store (especially if you’re traveling) to get it back. Yes, having few outlets makes the brand exclusive, but it also drastically limits your avenues for customer service in case things go south.

Not to mention, as commenter janels1 explains later, she found the Artois inconvenient, considered the Voltaire tote, and was on the lookout for a Goyard that she actually likes. And to be honest, in my opinion, I share her sentiments. Take the Saigon: one of the few Goyards that come in calfskin, in an absolutely divine crocodile, as well as in chevron. Now, while I’m not a fan of the Saigon’s wooden handle that honestly reminds me of a Gucci Bamboo wannabe, I would really appreciate more such all-leather designs from the brand, like the recent Anjou reversible tote featuring elephant embroidery, which, although rather basic, at least brings some much-needed variation! Designers at Goyard, please take notes!

Goyard Saigon

On the whole, Goyard’s offerings are lightweight, durable, foldable, and waterproof (but hey, so is Longchamp), with an air of exclusivity that makes them stand apart from the crowd. However, personally, I have devoted a lot of thought to this and have found myself unable to like any of its designs, in particular, except perhaps Kanye West’s one-off “robot face” backpack that sold for $55,000. But hey, that’s just my opinion on the matter.

*Internal screaming intensifies*

How about you? Are you a fan of Goyard, and if so, why?

A note from the author: The post has been edited for clarification of the details regarding the house of Goyard that were previously written in error. Our sincerest apologies for the issues pointed out by our knowledgeable commenters, we appreciate your continued support.

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Kate
Kate
5 months ago

I think it is important to quote reliable sources if brand image was going to be affected by material you post on pb, as you guys have credibility. Saying Goyard has quality issues based on some random person ranting on pf is not good enough, coming from a reputable blog like yours.

rexy
rexy
5 months ago

Don’t worry Sajid, I can back you up on this statement, as my wife’s only Goyard bag (Belvedere PM) quality isn’t really up to her expectations (Compare to the few other bags she owns). Even when new, the stitches are crooked and out of position at certain areas. The design of the strap is flawed too, as the leather started to peel off (due to scratching to the sides) after a few times of usage (We did check with Goyard’s SA and she said indeed the design will cause this kinda of defect).Further down the road, a bit more than 6 months of usage, the bending part of the top flap leather started to wrinkle as well. Anyway, the SA says we can send the bag to replace the worn out part. Despite being her most flawed bag, she still likes it very much and it’s her most-used bag.
p/s: Let me know if you need photos for evidence.

Jaime Stephens
Jaime Stephens
5 months ago

Goyard also has boutiques at a few Neiman Marcus stores. I buy from one in Chicago, for instance.

Heather
Heather
5 months ago

This article comes off as very condescending.

Also, this is inaccurate, “Firstly, Goyard only sells at a select few stores – 29 boutiques around the world, to be exact – with only two in the US, in New York and San Francisco, alongside a few store-in-store boutiques at Bergdorf Goodman (and at Barney’s back when Barney’s, well, existed).”

There are locations in TX, FL and IL, seems like an easy thing to double check.

Jenna Emmons
Jenna Emmons
5 months ago

Interviewing Karl Lagerfeld would be quite the coup considering he’s been dead for several years.

K L
K L
5 months ago

I don’t think the bags are attractive and I think they make the wearers look like fashion victims.

Fabuleux
Fabuleux
5 months ago

When Goyard enjoyed a boost in popularity in the mid-2000s, it was “de bon goût” for many of my friends to favor it over Louis Vuitton. After all, Goyard offers very similar products, in particular the light weight and weather-ready coated Canvas, but set itself apart with a less-recognizable (at the time) pattern. Over the years, I enjoyed a nice Goyard wallet and a couple of cosmetic/toiletry bags. The quality is fine. Nothing spectacular but definitely solid. I do enjoy the color selection though.

Nan
Nan
5 months ago
Reply to  Fabuleux

Tasteful? I’ve never gotten that vibe. Goyard reminds me of Louis Vuittons little sister desperately trying to imitate her older, more sophisticated sister, but abjectly failing.

Fabuleux
Fabuleux
5 months ago
Reply to  Nan

20 years ago, it was definitely considered the “tasteful” alternative to Louis Vuitton bags because most people, especially in the US, had no clue what Goyard was.

Insanely Funny
Insanely Funny
5 months ago

Saying that Goyard is: “simply the secrecy and the sense of mystery that sets it apart from the crowd” is poetic, but makes no sense when describing this brand. It’s far from accurate since it’s overpriced with multiple quality issues; nothing secretive or mysterious about that! 😂

Jaime
Jaime
5 months ago

I love my Goyard bag, my quality has been amazing, my bag is 5 years old. I enjoyed the experience of buying the bag and the store I traveled to get it at.

Jaime
Jaime
5 months ago

I have the ever bright Yellow St Louis tote. Absolutely love it.

Dave
Dave
5 months ago

The bad thing about Goyard with that exclusivity is that it is not very recognisable and when thousands of imitations are sold, such as the Sant Louis model, you do not know if it is original or fake.

Diane
Diane
5 months ago

Louis Vuitton was founded in 1854, Hermès was founded in 1837.

Beth
Beth
5 months ago
Reply to  Diane

Correct. Accuracy is important to have validity.

Runs Well in Heels
Runs Well in Heels
5 months ago

Sajid, while I’d like to offer compliments, it seems you have a significant number of errors in this article that many readers are correcting you on. Dates on fashion houses inception, etc., all very simplistic things for an admirer of fashion. This reads more as an Op Ed than an actual reference guide. You really need to have someone at PurseBlog QC your work prior to posting as this is really becoming amateur hour.

Jaime Stephens
Jaime Stephens
5 months ago

Agreed. This is not the quality that is usually found here, unfortunately.

C L
C L
5 months ago

Having followed the Goyard thread on PF for a while, it’s not just one disgruntled person complaining about the lack of servicing and support after purchasing. Even the people who love their Goyards seem to comment on the pattern rubbing off and not wanting to overload their tote bags(!) lest it damage the straps. In that particular aspect Hermes has Goyard and everyone else beat by a mile.

That said I like Goyard designs and have been obsessed with the bright blue Bellechasse ever since PB featured it several years back. I don’t mind my bags showing some wear — IMO there’s nothing more chic than a lovingly worn, high quality classic bag because it shows the bag was made to outlast seasons and trends. Their SLGs are cute as well. The last thing I’ll say is that I live near SF and the SA who was working the Goyard boutique the one day I dropped in could not have been more classy and polished in his presentation and treatment of shoppers 🙂

Gayle
Gayle
5 months ago
Reply to  C L

Go for the blue one! I have a st louis tote in that color and i wouldnt choose any other color from goyard (ok maybe the green one too haha). Mine is more than 10 yrs old got it when i was in college still kept it in pristine condition. Back then i got it for $1000 now ive seen resellers selling for $1800.

Beautiful story to tell: i met my bff through this bag. He noticed the goyard pattern told me nice goyard and i said wow you know the brand (since goyard wasnt that popular 7yrs ago not many know about it) and we ended up talking and noticing how much we both love bags (we call each other twin because we have the same interests) and our friendship is still going strong until this day

C L
C L
5 months ago
Reply to  C L

Also, “no comment, ask Karl” is the most deliciously petty throwing of shade, lol. I like to imagine both Goyard management and Karl Lagerfeld having had a good chuckle over that one.

Katherines16
Katherines16
5 months ago

Meh..just a boring redundant coated canvas that’s sooo overhyped.

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