Opinion

Is the Louis Vuitton Speedy Losing Popularity?

It seems to have somewhat disappeared from the wild...

Monogram bags pose somewhat of a dilemma for luxury brands. They‘re perennially in demand, even when logomania isn’t quite the trend du jour. They’re generally bestsellers, even if Gwyneth Paltrow wouldn’t wear one to court. And they’re perhaps the most direct association there could be to the brand itself, even though, in the process, this has historically rendered them largely vulnerable to counterfeiters.

In fact, for the monogram-heavy behemoths of the fashion world, be it Louis Vuitton, Gucci, or Dior, the logo has traditionally been an integral part of their storytelling (and as much as they’d like us to believe otherwise, the bread-and-butter of luxury fashion houses is, at the end of the day, the stories they sell.) Their aspirational appeal is undeniable, too: a piece of heritage monogram has traditionally come to signify prestige, an inkling of wealth if you will. And for commoners such as ourselves, it’s sometimes all we can hope to attain from a luxury label’s line-up.

Lately, however, these same brands seem to be perpetually perplexed by the state of affairs; one question hovering on everybody’s mind: to logo or not to logo? And brands have begun questioning their tried-and-true strategies, with more buyers eschewing their splashy monograms for higher-end variants bearing little obvious insignia, or what advocates have dubbed the quiet luxury movement. Is it finally time to let go of the logo?

It’s rather disconcerting when you think about it. Every time we so confidently proclaim that something is “never going out of style,” how confident are we? Fashion is fickle, after all. And one of the latest “classics” to fall prey to its many vagaries seems to be the Louis Vuitton Speedy. Yes, it’s that cylindrical reticule generations of women have lusted on. And for many, the perfect gateway drug into the world of high fashion.

A Speedy Trip through Time!

For a purse to have lasted (and remained fashionable) for 92 years is no small feat, yet that’s exactly what the Speedy has done. In fact, formerly of a reputation as a luggage-maker for the globe-trotting elite, Louis Vuitton’s first handbag was the Squire, better known now as the Alma, which was custom-made at Gabrielle Chanel’s request in 1925. But the Alma wasn’t manufactured commercially until 1934. The brand’s first purse, therefore, meant for day-to-day use and to become available for sale, was the Speedy in 1930.

Audrey Hepburn Louis Vuitton Speedy
Audrey Hepburn with her Louis Vuitton Speedy, image via Life Magazine

Initially dubbed the Express as a tribute to the penchant for fast-paced travel during the era, the Speedy was a shrunken-down interpretation of the popular carry-on, the Keepall, furnished first in plain coated canvas and about a year into its inception in Monogram Canvas. Originally conceived in the 30cm, the lineup was expanded to include 35cm and 40cm sizings. But it wasn’t until 1965 that the 25cm came into being. And who better to have as a patron for it than one of the most prolific actresses of the 20th century! Yes, at the height of her Breakfast at Tiffany’s fame, Audrey Hepburn implored the brand to develop an even smaller Speedy for her petite frame, and Vuitton acquiesced, leading to the creation of the Speedy 25. And it was surprisingly versatile; Ms. Hepburn reportedly wore it everywhere, from London to Paris to Rome and NYC, while it was a favorite of Jackie Kennedy and Lauren Bacall too!

A Versatile Icon

But if you thought the Speedy had reached the height of its popularity in the 60s, you’d be mistaken. The 90s brought the bite-sized Mini Speedy HL, while the Y2K dawned a full-fledged Speedy renaissance!

With Marc Jacobs at the brand’s helm, collaborating with the likes of Stephen Sprouse, Takashi Murakami, Richard Prince, and Yayoi Kusama, the style was inlaid in mirrored metallic finishes, covered in camouflage-print, reproduced in Multicolore Monogram, polka dots, and racing-stripes, and defiled with graffiti. And these were only some of its numerous variations. It was notably stolen from Paris Hilton’s closet by the Bling Ring, toted by Snoop Dogg and Rihanna, and even reimagined by Sofia Coppola!

Louis Vuitton Watercolor Aquarelle Speedy 35

Looking back at the Speedy’s illustrious past, do you suppose Vuitton regrets any of it? If given a chance, would the house go back in time to shake their heads in disappointment at every other (sometimes rather questionable) variation of the Speedy it spawned? Probably not. The Speedy of the Noughties was a moment in time that aficionados fondly reminisce to this date.

What the brand didn’t know back then, however, was that with every new rendition of the Speedy, it was only making the style more ubiquitous!

The Ordeals of Fame

In fact, although limited edition Speedys could often cost a pretty penny, the basic Monogram or Damier Speedys – and since 2011, their Bandoulière editions – are some of the most affordable purses within the premier segment; the style starting from $500 in 2002, and as per the latest price-hike, $1,820 for the 25cm. Since then, it has widely been touted as a wardrobe staple, a bag that has initiated many handbag lovers’ collections. The options are endless, with new spin-offs every season and leather editions in Empreinte, Epi, and more.

Sarah Jessica Parker
Sarah Jessica Parker with an Empreinte Speedy

But for a luxury brand, that rarely spells positivity. At one point, a popular entry-point into high fashion, the Speedy was just as omnipresent as its many knockoffs, rearing its monogrammed- or checkered-heads onto the arms of suburban moms, mall-dwellers, college-goers, and everyone in between. And with the consolidation and gamification of previously family-owned fashion houses, brands have little choice but to keep churning out mass-produced wares to keep the revenues flowing and the shareholders happy, sometimes with more-than-justifiable price increases to boot. Add this to the fact that the Speedy has traditionally been considered less functional than its similarly-priced counterparts, like the Neverfull or the Graceful. The Speedy now seems to have somewhat dropped off from the public eye, perhaps relegated to those at the bottom of the luxury spectrum!

An Unlikely Hero

But is it about time the Speedy was finally put to rest? My guess is no. In fact, although its larger sizes no longer make frequent rounds in the arms of fashionistas, the mini Speedys arguably remains more popular than ever! In fact, Vuitton revived the original Speedy HL as the Nano Speedy in 2015 and released the more decorative Speedy BB and the Speedy 20 Bandoulière, which ushered the design into the era of mini purses.

And although Louis Vuitton has been rumored to scale back on its monogram lineups (meaning that the Speedy will either become more difficult to acquire or more expensive), its historical cache is undeniable. And in today’s age of nostalgia, a well-worn, patinated Speedy, scored for a bargain on resale and may be customized to your preference, could up the chic factor immensely!

Kendall Jenner 1

Among the many stories and legends surrounding the Speedy, my favorite perhaps is about an aged Audrey Hepburn in the 80s. Snapped at Heathrow by the paparazzi, the leading lady is seen carrying one of her familiar old Speedys, its Toron handles amber with age, her delight at the trusty carryall evident from her dazzling smile. And perhaps that reflects the Speedy the best. Certainly, it’s not a totem of understated elegance – far from that.

But at 92 and still in vogue, it’s a cultural icon and a canvas for newer designs. That’s what truly makes it timeless!

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Alexandra Brown
Alexandra Brown
1 year ago

I wanted a speedy SO BAD in the 80s when I was in high school and never could afford one. Then it fell off my radar, npbut this past Valentine’s Day my husband surprised me with the dotted YK speedy 25. I was not sure about it, but now I LOVE it. It’s a great bag to carry and it’s so fun. My 40 year wish has been fulfilled and it’s so worth it!

Amanda R
Amanda R
1 year ago

I love this so much! 🥰

Kat
Kat
1 year ago

Speedy today, Speedy tomorrow, Speedy Forever!

work_for_Purse
work_for_Purse
1 year ago
Reply to  Kat

YES!!!

Joan
Joan
1 year ago

Even though the Speedy is not the kind of bag I would ever wear, I don’t think it’s going anywhere. It’s a basic shape and a style staple. You can’t go wrong with a Speedy.

Ed B
Ed B
1 year ago
Reply to  Joan

Took the words out of my mouth. Not for me at all, but it’s basic in a good way, I can’t see it going away.

Emily
Emily
4 months ago
Reply to  Ed B

Same same! I never was drawn to them but lately the smaller sizes (20 and below) have been growing on me. Something classic and casual at the same time about them

Antonia
Antonia
1 year ago

I have a vintage 90’s monogram 40 in near mint condition. The canvas is super thick and sturdy. I will never get rid of it. It’s perfect for traveling but can also be used as an everyday bag-and it’s light as a feather!! I love love love that bag!!!

Carrie K
Carrie K
1 year ago

I brought the speedy 20 in monogram canvas last year and it was my most used bag. I love it so much I brought it in the cream empreinte leather last month. I love how versatile the bag is. I use it as a crossbody for daily use & if I want to dress it up, I remove the shoulder strap and use the top handle. And for a small bag it fits a lot! I was shocked it can actually hold all my essentials plus a small water bottle or a small umbrella!

SlurmLoco
SlurmLoco
1 year ago

There’s a utilitarian appeal I personally love with the Speedy 25. I have 3 variations of it and love using them. Also, there’s not many I see around now, which is great. If it was good enough for Jackie, Audrey and Lauren, it’s good enough for me.

Amanda R
Amanda R
1 year ago
Reply to  SlurmLoco

Hear, hear!

Jeanie
Jeanie
1 year ago

a certain demographic of people will always prefer it. I personally have moved to other styles from other higher-quality brands because not only has the quality of LV declined, but their customer service has too. I can’t be bothered anymore.

Boulette
Boulette
1 year ago
Reply to  Jeanie

I have found the opposite. Quality has been excellent for years for all the LV items I own. And the staff at my local store is absolutely amazing. On the other hand, I have experienced poor customer service from Chanel and Hermes, and my Loewe’s puzzle bag is falling apart.

Guest
Guest
1 year ago

I’ve got a speedy 30 Monogram 2012 and Speedy DA 2015 and still using ‘ em for gym / club weekday routine until today 🤔 mon in f/w and DA in s/s

J B
J B
1 year ago

I have 2 -30’s. Love them. I haven’t been using much in last 2 years because I’ve become very streamlined with what I carry and frankly I am out and about less…less shopping in person, less appts, less daily dining out. I do lots of active outdoor activities where a bag is not needed. For evening I use something small. So it’s not just the speedy…all my top handle bags are resting.

Penny Purse
Penny Purse
11 months ago
Reply to  J B

Bought by first LV – a Speedy 30 – 40 years ago! I too have streamlined what I carry over the years. That’s why I just got the Speedy 20 Bandoulière and LOVE it. I use it casually and formally with its strap (beige).

Jessi
Jessi
1 year ago

I have the hard to get Monogramouflage 35 which I will never part with and LOVE and another 35 that is a great work horse size bag. I sold most of my LV monogram not too long ago and kept just a few key pieces that I couldn’t part with, these included.

WhitneyE.
WhitneyE.
1 year ago

I can’t imagine the speedy ever going anywhere. It is one of my personal favorite styles. It’s such a classic! If I could own a closet full, I would.

Georgina
Georgina
1 year ago

I have my eye on the new speedy with the pumpkin print…this article may be my sign to buy it.
what are everyone’s thoughts?

MHoward
MHoward
1 year ago

Love this article! I have a lovely collection of handbags which include a Birkin, several Chanels, most Gucci styles, Celine, Chloe, Ferragamo, Fendi, and Louis Vuitton. And I have to say, I reach for my three Speedy handbags more than any of my other handbags. They’re so versatile, hardy, and easy to carry. I will forever love the LV Speedy.

KKS
KKS
1 year ago

I bought my speedy 30 in DE in 2016 for about $800 and I would never sell it, even though I do not use it that often. I just know it will be back in style. It’s a timeless bag. Looking forward to having it when I’m 65!

Donna Bowers
Donna Bowers
1 year ago

Mine is winging its way back to me after a spa visit to repair the zipper. Its nearing 30 years old and I wouldn’t give it up for anything. That and my slightly older Alma were my dailies for years and still top choices.

KJB
KJB
1 year ago

I still have my Speedy I bought in 1985 for $199. I haven’t used it in years, but will never part with it, because it was my first designer bag.

Amanda R
Amanda R
1 year ago

I have a 35B that I LOVE. It’s big enough to hold everything I need for my 2yo, my 8mo, and myself. Once you own a Speedy, you KNOW how good they are. Also my keepalls (45B and 55B) are so good, too.

I will never get on board with quiet luxury. 🤷‍♀️ I love my LV monogram. 🙂

Adangerousbeauti
Adangerousbeauti
1 year ago

I will only get one if the multicolore canvas is for sale again

Donna Bowers
Donna Bowers
1 year ago

omg I would kill (figuratively) for a multi or a mad daisy speedy

Carolyn
Carolyn
1 year ago

I have the Speedy 30, bought 18 years ago for about $550. I scored an authentic French Co. Speedy at a thrift store for $30, because I guess they thought it was a fake! I love it also!

Jester
Jester
1 year ago

The speedy is a very iconic bag that has been around a lot longer than the Birkin, however the red bag in the middle from the picture above is a Sofia Coppola bag. A combination of the iconic speedy and keepall, which I think should have been a permanent collection given that it was made of high end quality leather exterior and interiors.

speedy forever.

Lisamay123
Lisamay123
1 year ago

Is LV Speedy 25 still popular?
In 1959, Audrey Hepburn asked Vuitton to turn the popular Louis Vuitton Keepall travel bag into a miniaturized day bag that she could carry regularly. And at Audrey’s request Louis Vuitton introduced a smaller version of the Louis Vuitton Speedy: 25 cm wide, which is still a popular size today

Andrea
Andrea
1 year ago

My first Speedy was 30 in monogram. I remember distinctly, a coworker calling it “a fat girl’s bag.” I was a fat girl and was shocked. Years later, I parted with it but admired the 25 from afar. I added the Speedy back to my collection in a 25 in Ebene in 2021, and I’ve probably used it less than 5x. I can’t put my finger on why, but it’s just not what I thought it would be and am again looking to part with it.

Lisa
Lisa
1 year ago
Reply to  Andrea

I feel the EXACT same way. I ve had the mono speedy in every size and parted with them all. Had the limited edition denim from 2007 and thought I would never part with that and easily did. Now I have a black leather speedy 20 on Poshmark. Used it three times and just could not get into it. I recently just purchased the YK polka dot speedy 25. I adore it but have not yet used it. It will likely be a display piece but I will never part with this one because of the story of it’s artist and it likely being her last collab with LV.

bir
bir
1 year ago

NEVER !
never will this bag ever fall trends come and go… speedy is an icon.