Is Louis Vuitton Made in China?(2021 Updated)
Is Louis Vuitton Made in China? With many top-ranking brands shifting their operation to China because of their fast and effective production, many customers of these luxury brands are starting to pay attention to the make and quality of their bags.
While customers feel a sense of ownership to their brands because of how much time and money they spend obsessing over them, they may never know the exact process their items of desire go through.
Manufacturers try to ease their worries by placing tags on the items indicating a European or American origin.
You will Learn in this Post
Are Real Louis Vuitton Bags Made in China?
According to the official website of the Louis Vuitton brand name, their products are not made in China at all. LV swear by their exclusivity and superiority in design and material. They have workshops in France, Spain, Switzerland, and the United States.
The bulk of manufacturing for their footwear, ready-to-wear collection, jewelry, and sunglasses is done in Italy, France, and Switzerland. LV prides itself on selecting the best designers and craftsmen to put together their iconic designs and express them in the most unique ways possible.
While none of these facts are in dispute, there has been some huge trend across the fashion business that has seen companies shift operations to China. Apart from the fact that China is a big market for any business, they also have improved technology and a dedicated and affordable workforce.
This has led to claims that some LV products have been made in China. Coupled with the lenient labeling laws in the world of fashion, this could be truer than LV will ever admit to. According to the law, a garment can be made in a different country to a certain percentage. If the right percentages are adhered to, the manufacturer is allowed to place a label indicating that the item was created in their manufacturers’ country of origin.
Why LV Products and other fashion brands are Made in China ?
There are a few supporting factors that point to LV products being made in China.
1.Meet Demand in China
While Louis Vuitton has a staff of 4,300 across its workshops, it has plans to expand its operations to two more factories and employ an additional 1,500 people to increase their supply to meet the growing demand for their products in China.
Chinese have a stable economy that allows most of them to afford designer bags, shoes, and accessories.
As Louis Vuitton refuse to move their base of operation to China, the Chinese are ever more drawn to their exclusive products.
2.Lower Cost of Production
As output levels increase within the company production. Then the cost of producing each piece is considerably lower. This makes the businesses of mass production highly profitable. The cost of production versus the cost of producing a single item when kept to a minimum works to benefit the manufacturer and not the customer.
Because Louis Vuitton products seem to have a huge demand in China, producing them in large volumes and releasing them to the market draws in plenty of attention.
With a greatly diminished cost of production per item, the market price for that particular goodwill drops far below market value which is why China-made products always carry the lower value. This has led to many people believing that since China-made products are cheap, they are fake, which is not true at all.
Back to the agreement between the two companies in the business. One company recognizes its strength in marketing and promotion and this is why delegating a less exciting and time-consuming activity such as manufacturing helps them focus on what is important.
Over the years, China has been identified as the leading country in the efficient and effective manufacturing of quality goods at great costs. Many top industries and brands across the globe have shifted some of their operations to China.
Some of these companies outsource all their operations and saw them close down all their factories or workshops.
Other companies choose to outsource their most demanded products while keeping their trademark pieces to themselves. Yet others like Louis Vuitton have refused to change their operations.
Chinese businesses receive full support from their government. In evidence of this, while you stroll around in China streets, you will likely notice a pattern.
These are concentrated spaces in the public space that cater to specific industries. Yiwu, for example, is the center of fashion jewelry in China while Shenzhen is the electronics capital.
Everything is so well displayed along one road that if you walk down the streets of Yiwu, you will no doubt find everything and anything related to fashion jewelry. You won’t even have to cross the street.
With the known overcrowding that plagues Chinese capitals, it should be a welcome reprieve for tourists. Other than Yiwu, jewelry is also plenty in Guangzhou and Shenzhen.
In all efforts to minimize costs and maximize profits, the effects and measures in place trickle down to the staff members of these factories.
It is in their terms of employment that you are paid only for what you have produced and that any missed day of work constitutes a missed income.
Commissions are paid out based on the number of sales done and this gives most employees a boost of confidence, morale, and the satisfactory feeling of having achieved something.
The Chinese have for the longest time been skilled at art and design.
Their building constructions and interpretations of jewelry have continued to be marveled upon. Putting together a garment or accessory should be easy because the principles are much the same.
It is because of this attention to detail that keeps China-made products among the best in the market.
Following specific directions on seamlines and stitching techniques, you wouldn’t tell one LV bag from the other.
Shipping to and from China is increasingly affordable and very reliable.
With orts at Shenzhen and Guangzhou, companies don’t have to frequently go back and forth between China.
They can make orders with a projection in mind to allow for the goods to arrive within a set time frame.
Are LV purses and bags made in China authentic and do they have good quality just like the ones made from France or Italy?
Yes, they are of high quality. This is because the two countries and specifically the companies entering into a contract with each other have some terms and conditions that must be adhered to. Louis Vuitton must give specific directions in terms of materials and stitching patterns and designs they expect.
The Chinese take on the task to select these materials if not already provided and to effectively and efficiently produce the same quality bag or purse as the first production. The finished product has to be tested and approved by Louis Vuitton standards and this ensures the authenticity of each product.
Where is Louis Vuitton Products manufactured?
According to the official website of the Louis Vuitton brand, their products are not made in China at all.
LV swear by their exclusivity and superiority in design and material. They have workshops in France, Spain, Switzerland, and the United States.
The bulk of manufacturing for their footwear, ready-to-wear collection, jewelry, and sunglasses is done in Italy, France, and Switzerland.
LV prides itself on selecting the best designers and craftsmen to put together their iconic designs and express them in the most unique ways possible.
It is still unclear whether or not Louis Vuitton products are made in China.
The company remains tight-lipped and sticks to their story that their workshops are only European and American based.
Apart from some unsubstantiated customer complaints here and there about the poorer quality of LV bags, there is no further evidence that would indicate any manufacturing of Louis Vuitton products done in China.
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Stephanie is a jewelry lover when she was a teenager. Her major was fashion design when she was in college. She is a jewelry designer at SOQ Jewelry and other design companies. Now she is also a writer for our website. She writes a lot of designs&brands posts with very actionable tips.
Hey! I finally find the Answer!
Fake Louis Vuitton luxury bag operation in China worth US$15.
4 million shut down after police arrest almost 40 people
Police in China have shut down a sophisticated counterfeit Louis Vuitton racket that netted 100 million yuan (US$15.4 million).
Nearly 40 people, including one store saleswoman, were arrested in connection with the alleged forging of the bags over a four-year period, mainland media Thepaper.cn reported.
In some cases, they produced counterfeit bags before the real versions had hit the market. The operation also added chip technology that they claimed allowed customers to verify genuine products — a feature the real bags do not have.
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Near-Field-Communication chips (NFC) are tiny sensors that are often attached to the insides of luxury brand items and which show information for consumers to view with their smartphones.
The operation also found suppliers to copy dust bags, warrant certificates, labels, envelopes, and letters.
The group used patterns from real bags and samples and designs stolen by an insider at Louis Vuitton to manufacture the fakes. Photo: qq.com
The alleged counterfeiters, who were in Guangdong province, have been charged with illegally manufacturing and selling registered trademark goods.
The scam was initially exposed in December 2019 when police found people selling bootleg Louis Vuitton bags and other accessories on social media. Another part of the operation involving about 40 workshops was shutdown in July last year.
The operation initially started to produce leather that was printed with Louis Vuitton patterns in 2018, however that failed because the fake patterns faded quickly. In March last year they sprayed on patterns using a different technique that was more effective and within five months had produced 2,300 yards of sprayed leather, which could produce 6,900 bags.
Fake products for sale online. Photo: qq.com
The group would buy genuine bags from Louis Vuitton retail stores which would then be disassembled to produce leather with the same pattern.
However, unsatisfied with the effort and time it took to produce bags in this manner, they recruited a saleswoman in a genuine Louis Vuitton store from whom they bought more than a dozen genuine bags.
The saleswoman provided internal training materials, which included design and detailed graphs of bags not sold in China yet. Some designs were sold before the genuine ones reached retail stores — some ended up as far away as the Middle East.
The bootleg bags, which cost only 100 to 200 yuan (US$15 to $30), were sold for between 300 to 500 yuan (US$45-$75) yuan each to dealers. The dealers added a 40 per cent mark up and sold the bags on to other dealers across the country who then marked the bags up yet again before selling to retail customers.
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Did these people make your handbag?
It doesn’t matter how much you paid for it, nor where you bought it: the accessory on your shoulder probably started life in China, the work of one of the 300,000 people who work in what has become a multibillion-euro industry. Clifford Coonan visits the heart of handbag country, where cheap knock-offs rub up against designer labels.
It’s a long way from a dusty factory floor in the vast, humid, polluted industrial zones of Shenzhen, in the booming southern Chinese region of Guangdong, to a table in an upmarket restaurant in Dublin. But it’s a route millions of handbags take every year. Most of the world’s handbags come from factories in Guangdong. In one of them, in Dongguan, owned by a company called Ya Jia, Wan-Peng Tseng, its sales manager, is showing me some of the materials that go into making the nine million handbags her firm manufactures each year. She and her husband, Yi-Chen Deng, are a young couple from Taiwan. After they got married, in February, they decided to spend their honeymoon at the factory – home is an apartment in the grounds – and will wait until next year to go on holiday. The handbag business is good, so they prefer to be available in case of problems.
Like many young Taiwanese, Tseng has a cosmopolitan background – she has studied and lived in London and Hawaii – but her father owns the company, and duty called. Now she and Deng are learning about the handbag business from the bottom up. “It’s the same principle regardless of whether it’s high-fashion handbags or backpacks for kids. The first step is always the paperwork, the design,” says Tseng, holding up a cardboard design template in the firm’s research-and-development department.
Ya Jia, which turns over about €17 million a year, has 1,000 workers at three factories; the others are in a remote part of Jiangsu province and in the booming province of Zhejiang, in eastern China. Tseng’s father is based at the Zhejiang factory; the province’s air is traditionally considered good for the lungs.
“The material is cut by hand – it’s very labour-intensive – and then stitched, then sewn together,” she says as we walk through the factory. Swathes of material are lying around, in lurid pinks for Batman backpacks, black canvas for iPod holders, and leatherette, both white and brown, for the handbags that many of the plant’s 200 employees are working on today. It is a little surprising, as you watch them cut and sew, how much effort goes into each bag.
Labour-rights activists often cite handbag factories as poor employers, but this one could be a model employer; it operates for only eight hours a day, according to Tseng, who adds that the government is strict about working conditions. Most of the staff earn about €100 a month, which is average for the area; the factory’s high-speed seamsters get about €150.
When the bags are finished they are shipped around the world. Ya Jia supplies big names in the US, including Wal-Mart, Kmart and Target, and a number of European outlets, although Tseng doesn’t know which ones, as the bags are distributed by a trading company in Taiwan.
Half of the world’s finished goods are now made in China. It is a cheap place to manufacture anything: labour is plentiful, it is easy to get goods in and out, and everyone is keen to be an entrepreneur. Almost 20 other firms in Ya Jia’s industrial estate, some with more than 1,000 workers, make handbags, and China as a whole has almost 6,000 handbag manufacturers. The latest data is three years old, but even in 2003 the industry employed 300,000 people and had annual sales of €4 billion.
Given that most handbags are made in China, it’s not surprising that this includes three-quarters of all fakes. The market for counterfeit designer handbags is very nearly as old as that for real ones. As long ago as 1896, Georges Vuitton, son of Louis, designed the L and the V of the Louis Vuitton logo to make it harder for counterfeiters to copy the company’s luggage.
He wasn’t entirely successful: the trade in knock-off designer handbags and other luxury products is estimated to be worth €25 billion a year – or about five per cent of the trade in all pirated goods – and Louis Vuitton’s bags are among the most copied. In the markets of Shenzhen you can pick up a Louis Vuitton handbag whose real version has only just been unveiled in Paris – and is still not in the shops. According to Interpol, the counterfeiters include triad gangs, which moved into the market because of margins that can make fake bags as profitable as cocaine.
Guangdong’s factories are within shouting distance of the luxury-goods shops of Hong Kong, where customers circle designer bags that sit on plinths, eyeing the detail, the finishing, half-smiling at the beauty of the design. But, of course, if a shopper can do it, so can a factory owner, dropping into a Louis Vuitton or Hermès boutique to buy a bag for reproduction at his plant.
Sometimes he doesn’t need to buy one – or even get out of his chair. Just as surely as a potential buyer is checking out the latest Hermès or Tod’s bag on the internet, so too is a canny copyist, working out measurements and materials. Customs officers have discovered shipments of fake handbags that included detailed specification sheets.
Globalisation has brought another problem. In the past few years, to cut costs, fashion houses have moved chunks of their production to China. There are plenty of stories about “production over-runs”, of companies meeting their targets for production, then selling the rest on the black market. These factories reputedly have “day shifts” devoted to the production of genuine designer goods, followed by illegal “night shifts”, staffed by illegal workers. Their replicas are much sought after, as they are of high quality but still relatively cheap.
Keen to be seen to be tackling piracy, to help boost its international image, the Chinese government periodically moves to drive the counterfeiters off the streets. That’s why market hawkers are wary of cameras, as they are constantly on the watch for police stings.
In Beijing last December, a group of luxury brands, including Prada, Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Chanel and Burberry, won a court ruling aimed at stopping the sale of knock-off handbags in Silk Alley, the city’s most famous market, a block from the US embassy. The €20,000 fine that came with it was less than what most counterfeiters are said to pay every week in bribes to the authorities responsible for enforcing intellectual-property rights, and the fake handbags were back on sale within days.
There is a more cautious air about the market these days, however, which means you have to look beyond the rows of bags in Silk Alley to find the good stuff. Some of the fakes are obvious: Adidas spelled Adiddass, for example, and shirts with Hugo Boss labels but Ralph Lauren logos. For other items, such as convincing copies of Hermès handbags, touts take potential buyers to nearby lanes, to show what they have to offer.
It’s a funny place to go shopping.
“You are black-hearted man. You say price, I say price, you say another price, I say another price, we make a deal. That’s how it’s done,” one hawker calls after a burly German, barely suppressing a grin. The customer is skulking away from her stall, grumpy at her outrageous initial demand of 400 yuan, or €40, for a patchy Hermès rip-off. Haggling is essential.
At one stall, an Yves Saint Laurent logo is casually stitched on to a bag, but it’s just any old handbag that now has a fake label. The stitching meanders slightly at the edges. The Hermès might have scraped a B, but, in the rigorously classified world of knock-off bags, this is a C. Like the Ballys and Burberrys nearby, it is on sale for 140 yuan, or €14, a pop. Time to bargain. No way, I tell the saleswoman; you can do better.
Had I gone to the back of the shop I might have been seen a AAA bag, such as a Balenciaga made in Korea from Italian leather. Not that it would have been expensive. A black-and-white pony-skin Gucci whose authentic version costs more than €1,200 in the shops will here set you back €20 at most. A Gucci Amalfi, supposedly worth €1,500, is €20, too, although it’s poorer quality.
The back of the shop is where traders keep their best copies. They’ll show them to you on request, to protect themselves against police investigation (although, as many of the goods are produced in factories in the provinces, often with local-government backing, production is unlikely to slow, despite the periodic clampdowns).
In the leather-goods section of the basement of the Yaxiu market, in Beijing’s Sanlitun diplomatic area, the only brands on very obvious display are Tod’s, Chloé and Versace. In fact, someone should tell Diego della Valle, the man behind Tod’s, that the label is primed to go massive in China this year: Tod’s handbags and loafers fill every stall.
A lime-green Tod’s D-Bag and light-blue Offshore tote will set you back nearly €1,000 from an approved outlet; the embossed Découpage retails at €850. At Yaxiu they come in whatever colour you want – just check the catalogue – and varying quality, for between €20 and €40. A woman working at the stall says she used to work in a handbag factory. “It was terrible. I got tired too easily. This is much easier,” she explains.
Seven stalls here claim to be selling real crocodile-skin purses. Most admit that theirs are, in fact, made from cattle leather. “I don’t know much about where the bags come from,” says one trader. “My boss does all of that. I know they come from Guangzhou or somewhere in the south. I know we say this is crocodile skin, but you’re not going to get real crocodile skin here; this is a market.”
Nobody in China with cash would dream of buying a counterfeit bag. Real handbag junkies – and they are legion in the malls of the new China – can tell even the very best fake Pradas from the real thing, and they scoff at the knock-off Dolce & Gabbanas you see on the street. But for a receptionist at an import-export company, keen for a bit of western flash, they’ll do nicely, thanks.
The friendly former handbag maker asks for €5 for a smart Longchamp bag that folds down beautifully into a compact baguette shape. Definitely A class, we think. Perhaps even AA. A closer look at the clasp shows it is not by “Longchamp, France” but by “Lmddhbnp, Frende”.
Bags of style
Perhaps a woman’s most treasured accessory, the handbag is deemed more reliable and useful than a man – and more revealing of status, taste and ability to dress than any other item. All this, and you can put things in it, too, from lip glossand sunglasses to guilt-wrapped chocolate bars and sanitary towels. A woman’s handbag is her rock, her icon, a beacon of stability in a crazy world. Those of Margaret Thatcher (below) became icons that defined the 1980s and had public-school-educated Tories quivering in their shoes.
Handbags began, hundreds of years ago, as pouches attached to girdles; later they became bags, carried as réticules, in post-revolutionary France, to hold smelling salts and visiting cards. In the early part of the 20th century handbags were used mainly by men; then women wrested them back, and by the 1920s they were symbols of women’s independence – they could carry their own stuff, thank you very much. By the 1950s the handbag was an essential part of every outfit, and they continue to inspire in women the kind of mania that only football or cars can prompt in men. It’s said there is a clairvoyant in Paris who will read your bag and its contents like tea leaves and see your dark secrets.
The legendary Birkin bag was invented after Jane Birkin, the singer and actress best known for singing Je T’Aime . . . Moi non Plus with Serge Gainsbourg, spilled the contents of her too-small bag on to the lap of a Hermès designer during a flight in 1981. People now wait up to two years for a rectangular Birkin, which has a lock and key to keep it shut. Two years ago a black crocodile Hermès Birkin, customised with a diamond-covered clasp and lock, sold at auction for €54,000. In the same sale, a royal-blue ostrich Birkin went for €13,000.
When a product can be so lucrative, it has the power to rescue corporations. Fendi was a moribund Roman furrier until it sprang back into action with the Baguette, a cute bag you carry like a stick of French bread, back in 1997. They sell for up to €5,000 these days.
Special report: Faked in China: Inside the pirates’ web
By Doug Palmer, Melanie Lee
WASHINGTON/GUANGZHOU (Reuters) – Anybody could tell right away that the Louis Vuitton shoulder bag was fake because it was delivered in a recycled box that once shipped batteries.
A China-based website displays fake LVMH handbags as seen on a Reuters computer screen in Washington, September 10, 2010. REUTERS/Hyungwon Kang
Warnings printed on the inside of the box read: “Danger Contains Sulfuric Acid” and “Poison – Causes Severe Burns” — not the sort of messages that would normally accompany a product from one of the world’s most iconic luxury brands.
But it sure looked real. It was dark brown, sported a braided strap with brass fittings and the Louis Vuitton monogram stamped all across the bag.
I had ordered the bag from a website called www.ericwhy.com for this special report, which explores the growing problem of counterfeit merchandise sold over the Internet.
Reuters wanted to trace the problem from a consumer in Washington D.C. to the shadowy producers based in Guangzhou China, where my colleague Melanie Lee found the illicit workshops and markets.
Ericwhy, based in Guangzhou, calls its stuff “designer-inspired alternative to actual Louis Vuitton” in a disclaimer on its website. “We assume no civil or criminal liability for the actions of those who buy our products.”
Yet, U.S. law enforcement officials say this website and many others that offer a dazzling array of goods online — clothes, electronics, footwear, watches, medicines — are outlaws, and they plan to go after them hard.
Counterfeit commerce over the Internet has soared in the past couple of years, turning what had been an irritant to businesses into a serious competitive threat, the officials say.
The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development estimates the amount of counterfeit goods and pirated copyrights in world trade grew from about $100 billion in 2001 to about $250 billion in 2007, the last year for which they have made an estimate. While there are no separate estimates for how much of that is sold on the Internet, authorities say it is considerable.
“The Internet has just completely changed the face of the problem, made it more complicated and more pervasive,” says John Morton, assistant secretary in charge of U. S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). “Whole industries now have been attacked, not from the street, but from the Internet.”
Visitors to www.ericwhy.com can choose from more than 1,800 imitation Louis Vuitton bags, ranging from a pink shoulder tote and a tiger-colored “Whisper bag” to a simple bright red clutch.
The one I ordered cost $122 with a $40 shipping fee, so by my definition it was not exactly cheap. But comparable bags sold at a local Louis Vuitton retail store were $1,000 or more.
I entered my Washington D.C. address and credit card information, and instantly got an email from my credit card company warning of possible fraud on my account. Soon, I received a second email, this one a receipt with a Worldwide Express Mail Service (EMS) tracking number so I could follow my package.
The bag left Guangzhou, China on September 14 and arrived on my desk by the 20th. It was wrapped in a yellow sheath with the Louis Vuitton logo and smelled strongly of leather.
But in another sign something was not quite right, the English instructions that came with it read: “Louis Vuitton has created for you prestigious glazed leather” — the sentence ending abruptly without the word “bag.”
I took the bag to a Louis Vuitton store in Chevy Chase, Maryland to see how it compared with the real article. The store clerk, a tall man in a stylish suit, was restrained. “We only talk about our own products,” he said icily, adding “we don’t have any bags like that.”
That Louis Vuitton doesn’t want its store personnel to talk about how easily their products can be copied is perhaps understandable. If word got around fake bags were on the street, then people might begin to wonder if their own bags were real. Part of the brand’s cachet is its exclusivity, which easily available counterfeits devalue.
Last year, U.S. customs and other law enforcement agents made nearly 15,000 seizures of counterfeit goods, 80 percent of which came from China. Handbags were third on the list, behind consumer electronics and footwear — the top item for four consecutive years.
“They aren’t just selling counterfeit clothing or electronics,” U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder told an intellectual property conference in Hong Kong last week.
“They’re selling defective and dangerous imitations of critical components, like brake pads, or everyday consumer goods, like toothpaste. They’re conducting corporate espionage. They’re pirating music, movies, games, software and other copyrighted works — both on our cities’ streets and online. And the consequences are devastating.”
When it comes to making counterfeit goods and pirating brands, China is the counterfeit “workshop of the world.” Along with a relentlessly widening U.S. trade deficit, which Washington blames on China’s undervalued currency, rampant piracy is stoking economic tensions between two of the world’s biggest economies.
The grubby town of Shiling, an hour’s drive from the southern port of Guangzhou, has the biggest leatherworking industry in China. In the 1980s, multinationals from various industries began outsourcing production to factories in the coastal provinces. In this part of Guangdong province, it was leather.
By the late 1990s, low-budget workshops in inconspicuous neighborhoods near the outsourcing factories had sprung up making fake versions of the products. Today, much of Shiling’s leather goods are destined for the counterfeit trade.
At one such workshop near Shiling Secondary School, women and their young daughters could be seen cutting and sewing leather by the windows. Lanky men loitered on the ground floor by a “help wanted” poster seeking leather workers, serving as lookouts.
These places are occasionally targeted for police raids.
Zhou She, a private investigator whose job is to sniff out illicit hives of counterfeiting operations, told us about this cluster of workshops, but we must act discreetly, he says.
Walking gingerly around the three-storey shop-house factories and watching men and women pound metal hardware into leather in the back alleys, it feels like we are in a pirates’ lair.
Police officials say organized crime gangs, sometimes called triads in this part of China, are deeply involved, given their extensive underground networks. “Of course they are involved. It is very low risk for them,” Zhou said.
He works the detective gumshoe routine, spending hours trailing trucks carrying suspected cargo in and out of Shiling, conducting camera surveillance and interviews.
A former Peoples’ Liberation Army intelligence officer, Zhou, who has been in the industry for 12 years, has the tanned, leathery skin and sharp crew cut of a military man. His austere presence is betrayed only by a brown, expensive-looking leather purse, which he showed off proudly — a gift from an Italian client after he found a counterfeit workshop for them.
Luxury brands hire him to gather information on the location of warehouses and factories, who then use that evidence to persuade Chinese police to conduct a raid.
The workshops take real luxury handbags and reverse engineer them. Everything from the metal fittings to the monogrammed leather of a Louis Vuitton bag is produced in China.
After it is put together at one of the workshops in Shiling, the bag usually winds up in nearby Baiyun, by the old airport in northern Guangzhou.
SPILLING OUT OF STORES
The Guangzhou Baiyun World Leather market is the epicenter of the world’s counterfeit trade when it comes to wholesaling fake leather goods and apparel, experts say.
Counterfeit Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Prada, and Hermes handbags literally spill out of shops that occupy commercial space the size of five football fields. Smaller stores provide auxiliary products, such as counterfeit paper bags, receipts and catalogues for wholesalers.
Gina, who declined to give her surname, is one such wholesaler from Colonia, Uruguay. Tugging a large, gray Louis Vuitton suitcase through the narrow paths of the leather market with her 66-year-old mother in tow, she is looking for a shop that can make Louis Vuitton satchels out of “pleather” (synthetic leather).
“Don’t worry, she can manage, we are very used to this,” Gina said as her arthritic mother slowly shuffles forward, carrying bags laden with fake scarves and leather goods, before they stop at a bag shop.
“I don’t need real leather, just pleather. No need to be 5-As, just double A enough,” Gina told the shopkeeper in heavily accented English.
She has traveled halfway around the world to Baiyun to make a personal connection in the world’s largest market for counterfeit leather goods. “I used to buy online from China, but after one bad experience, I said never again!” She said she wound up taking delivery of 800 bags in red instead of the black she ordered.
Gina was looking for a factory that can make 500 satchels, which she planned to ship to Argentina before bringing them into Uruguay where she has a beachfront store. It’s less suspicious to bring it over the border than have it come directly from China. Clutching sheets of paper with information about the bags she wants made, Gina, with her streaked blond hair, tanned skin and branded accessories, looked more like a Hollywood fashonista than somebody’s idea of a pirate. “I’ve been in this business for eight years now,” she said. “It’s a good business.”
Indeed, while criminal syndicates are getting increasingly involved in the counterfeit trade, both in the United States and China, authorities say, it is ordinary folks like Gina and the shopkeepers she deals with who are the face of the counterfeit business in China.
Guangzhou authorities occasionally raid the Baiyun market, including the day Reuters journalists visited there. Shops, tipped to the impending raid, dutifully closed their doors, though customers only had to knock to be let in surreptitiously.
“They are raiding now. I don’t know when it will end. It’s because of the Asian Games,” said one shopkeeper. Guangzhou is hosting the games in November.
After a few minutes, the raid apparently ends with no arrests made. Shop owners slide off their stools, fling open their glass doors and stand outside beaming and beckoning at customers again. They don’t cater to tourists, but sell in bulk to wholesalers such as Gina. Each shop claimed to have a factory backing it.
In the basement of the stores are the shippers, who expertly pack and label the items so they sail through customs.
“If you want to send to France, it is a bit hard, because they check thoroughly. But sending via UPS has an 80 percent success rate,” said one such shipper named Chen, who like the others interviewed in China for this story, declined to give his full name to avoid getting in trouble.
They will also route shipments through ports in the Middle East or Africa to avoid detection by customs in the European Union and the United States, he said.
Sitting on a small stool in a Baiyun shop, Gary, a 30-year-old Congolese, represents another branch of the industry — the intermediary. Speaking Mandarin to a shopkeeper and switching to French for his three African clients, he was trying to put together a deal on counterfeit Italian Miu Miu bags.
He came to China two years ago to study, but has made helping European and African clients buy fakes a thriving side business.
“I buy a lot and pack them in boxes of 10. Then I ship them to England and then I drive (them) into France and they get picked up,” Gary whispered in Mandarin. “It’s a sensitive business,” he said with his baseball cap shoved low on his head.
Similarly, Nana, 30, a native of Moscow, has lived in Guangzhou for four years. She was buying fake Tommy Hilfinger and Gucci clothes in Baiyung, which she planned to supply to 20 websites in Russia.
Few if any foreigners are ever caught or prosecuted, and not many locals, either. China’s counterfeit industry employs millions of workers, distributors and shop clerks across the nation, one reason why authorities have often been half-hearted in their enforcement measures.
But last week, the government said it would soon launch a six-month crackdown on piracy and trademark infringement. The illicit traders “upset the market’s normal order, impair the competitive strength and innovation of businesses, and hurt China’s image abroad,” the State Council, or Cabinet, said in a statement.
In the second half of last year, China’s customs department seized 2.6 million counterfeit items from the country’s postal and express consignments, Meng Yang, a director general in the customs department, said in a speech in Shanghai last month.
That’s probably just a small fraction of the total trade in China, experts say, given the amount of fake merchandise from China seized abroad.
NEW WEAPONS AGAINST PIRATES
Back in Washington, I handed over the fake Louis Vuitton bag down to the National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center. Federal agents, standing in front of a display case of counterfeit shampoo, condoms, medicine and other products seized over the years, good-naturedly accept the bag. They said it was much better quality than the ones they had brought in to show me.
The new center is a partnership among a dozen federal law enforcement agencies and the Mexican government. Richard Halverson, its chief for outreach and training, said U.S. customs officials and postal inspectors have been on the lookout for counterfeit goods from China, but can’t catch every one.
The money to be made selling counterfeit goods is so good “we have seen organized crime groups, what you would consider drug trafficking groups, actually move away from some of those other crimes into the counterfeit goods trade because it is a high-profit, low-risk cash business — the prime things that criminals are looking for,” Halverson said.
It may seem harmless enough, but a consumer surfing the web looking for a good deal on prescription drugs, for example, needs to beware. “You may be looking at what you believe to be a Canadian pharmacy, when in fact the drugs are being manufactured in India, the site is being run out of China, and your payment is going to another group in Russia,” Halverson said.
In the 2009 budget year, U.S. Customs agents and other officials made 14,481 seizures valued at $260.7 million dollars. When the final tally for 2010 budget year is in, the figures will be much higher, Halverson said, noting that in just one operation U.S. agents in Baltimore working with London police seized eight containers of counterfeit shoes and handbags.
One recent IPR Center enforcement action, called “Operation in Our Sites” seized the domain names of seven websites that allow visitors to stream or illegally download first-run movies, often just within hours of hitting the theaters.
Halverson took me to the IPR’s operations room, where undercover agents search out websites and plot ways to disrupt them. The room, with a huge video monitor on the far wall, also functions as a command post to run operations in the field.
“Our undercover operation here is just Internet-based. We don’t have any face-to-face meetings,” one agent said, explaining they use “undercover computers” that allow them to trawl for counterfeiters without being identified.
After making a buy and confirming it is a counterfeit item, ICE agents will get a court order to seize the site’s domain name and shut it down. But a longer criminal investigation is required to seize assets and put people in jail, the agent said.
Many owners of the domain names, such as Ericwhy, are overseas, making it difficult for U.S. law enforcement to go after them. So often the most viable option is to close the site, another agent said.
ORGANISED CRIME LINKS
While it often seems the counterfeit industry in China is mostly Mom and Pop, Washington sees the problems caused by fake goods as much bigger and more sinister than many imagine. “Counterfeiting and piracy is increasingly the focus of organized crime,” said Morton, who heads ICE, the U.S. government’s second-largest criminal investigation agency after the FBI.
“There’s a lot of money in it and you need a fairly sophisticated operation to pull it off. You need an ability to manufacture goods on a grand scale, you need a shipping network,” Morton said in an interview in his office at ICE headquarters with a view of the Washington Monument and Potomac River.
“It literally affects every segment of American manufacturing and business,” he continued, ticking off examples: “Counterfeit aircraft engine parts, counterfeit ball bearings for machines, counterfeit pharmaceuticals, counterfeit electronics.”
The Internet has made it much easier for unscrupulous companies to sell fake or pirated goods. “You don’t have to go to the corner of Fourth and Main to buy your fake Gucci handbag. You can order it over the Internet,” Morton said.
Counterfeit products are also increasingly sophisticated and hard to distinguish from the real thing. In the old days, Morton said, everyone knew an item was a knock-off because it looked like a cheaper version of the original. But now, counterfeiters want to mimic the item as closely as possible to get higher prices and profits.
One new tool Washington hopes will help in the international fight is a proposed Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement. Negotiators from the United States, the 27 nations of the European Union, Japan, Australia, Canada, South Korea, Mexico, Morocco, Singapore and Switzerland reached a tentative agreement in late September on the pact, which has been years in the making.
With support from groups such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Business Software Alliance, Congress is preparing legislation giving the U.S. Justice Department broad new powers to take down “rogue websites,” both at home and overseas.
“Sites like this one (ericwhy.com) are stealing the ideas and designs of legitimate, hardworking manufacturers to line the pockets of foreign criminal networks,” said Rob Calia, senior director for counterfeiting and piracy at the U.S. Chamber.
“It’s theft, plain and simple, and it’s hurting our economy.”
INTERNET CHAT ROOMS
It is on the Internet where counterfeit traders in China are finding a growing market, not to mention a safer place from which to deal. Chat rooms on sites such as thefashionspot.com are dedicated solely to finding suppliers and discussing bags. Other sites such as Replica Underground offer members direct links to Chinese suppliers.
The consensus in the chat rooms is that the best quality fakes that can be bought from websites come from Jacky, Catty and Joy — all pseudonyms.
Joy, 30, started selling fake Louis Vuittons as a sideline. Having spent a couple of years overseas, she banters with potential customers on her website in flawless English. But behind the cheery facade is a troubled pirate.
“I am worried every day about being caught,” Joy told Reuters in an email interview. “The old Chinese saying goes: It’s a dagger hanging on top of my heart. I’ve been trying to get out of the business since day one. I have tried everything. I even started my own brand, but nothing sells like replicas,” she said.
Catty, who has been in the business of making “mirror-image” Chanel bags for six years, sells 2,000 to 3,000 bags a month to customers all over the world, for about $100 each. Under Chinese law, that size of operation surpasses the threshold required to begin a criminal investigation, as opposed to a civil fine.
“Yes, I am so afraid of getting caught, but in China many, many people do this job. You can find many people doing my job on iOffer, Taobao and Ebay,” Catty said in an email interview, referring to online auction sites.
The online merchandising trend, and shipping via small parcels, has made it increasingly hard for authorities to track the extent of the problem
“Traditionally, we’d find a few containers every year and they’re nice figures to report,” said John Taylor, an official with the European Union IPR enforcement unit. “But now there are less containers identified, and customs is working almost twice as hard to find as many products because of the growing trend for consumers to buy items over the Internet,” he told Reuters.
Ebay, which has lost lawsuits in France to Louis Vutton for not policing the site for fakes actively enough, said the firm has made an increased effort of late.
“We’re serious about it. We vet Chinese sellers. If China is going to connect with the rest of the world, China has to confront piracy and counterfeits themselves,” Ebay’s Chief Executive John Donahue told Reuters in an interview.
Jack Chang is a veteran campaigner against counterfeit goods. As chairman of China’s leading intellectual property protection group, the Quality Brands Protection Committee, he has worked with the Chinese government to make enforcement a priority.
China’s dual system for counterfeit goods enforcement, with duties shared between China’s administrative authorities and its police, provides enforcement options for brand owners. But it also forms one of the biggest problems in cracking down on the illicit industry.
Under Chinese law, a counterfeit case is not subject to criminal investigation unless it surpasses a certain value or volume threshold. However, unless an investigation is made, it is nearly impossible to know the magnitude of the counterfeiting. Without evidence to prove that the threshold is met, the police cannot start the investigation. “It’s a which came first situation: the chicken or the egg,” Chang said.
Adding to the problem are the sheer numbers of Mom and Pop stores selling these goods.
“It’s a never-ending story. Every time you hit one, another one pops up somewhere else, and you have to hit it again. So it’s tough,” Jean Cassegrain, chief executive of French luxury house Longchamp, told Reuters.
FRUSTRATION WITH CHINA
On Capitol Hill, frustration with China’s pirates is adding to rising tensions with China over a range of issues, including the trade deficit and other unfair trade practices they say are taking away American jobs.
Sen. Byron Dorgan, Democrat from North Dakota, was conducting a recent hearing on pirated movies, as chairman of a watchdog panel set up after China and the United States normalized trade ties in 2000.
Many thought China’s entry into the World Trade Organization would create a boom for U.S. exports. Instead, the trade gap has gotten worse year after year, with the deficit on track this year to reach about $250 billion.
Dorgan is grilling Greg Frazier, a vice president at the Motion Picture Association of America, about how Washington ended up agreeing to limit the number of foreign films that can be shown in China to just 20 a year under the WTO pact.
The U.S. movie industry believes the quota has fueled the huge market for pirated DVDs and illegal Internet downloads. “Here is the paradox: there’s an abundance of American movies in China but most of them are pirated,” Frazier told the hearing.
China’s policing of the Internet for pornography and political content raises questions why it can’t do the same for sites that offer pirated or counterfeit goods, legislators say.
“We know the Chinese government could be doing far more — far, far more — to protect intellectual property rights,” Rep. Sander Levin, a Democrat from Detroit, tells the hearing. “There’s a widening chasm between what we hear from the Chinese government about IPR protection and what we know to be true.”
9 Ways to Tell Real Purses
A pioneer in monogram bags, Louis Vuitton has produced countless handcrafted purses that women and men alike covet.
Even if their artisanal handbags come with hefty price tags, Hollywood celebrities to common folk want to get their hands on one (or several). You can find some pre-owned authentic Louis Vuitton bags, clothing, jewelry, and shoes at Farfetch.
The classic Louis Vuitton logo embellished on monogrammed leather
This comes as no surprise thanks to their top-grade Italian leather and precise craftsmanship. Each bag comes with a whole lot of time, love, and effort.
The Hollywood favorite Louis Vuitton “Keepall” duffel bag
Currently, Louis Vuitton houses Michelle Williams and Alicia Vikander as their main endorsers. Other under-the-radar LV faces include Jaden Smith, Cate Blanchett, and Jennifer Connelly.
Louis Vuitton showcases its “Manhattan” bag
Unfortunately, with the rise of the brand’s popularity also come the counterfeiters. Fake Louis Vuitton bags have dominated the e-commerce industry, resulting in numerous eBay sellers who offer knockoffs at ridiculously low prices.
In November 2019, CNBC reported that the world’s largest online consumer marketplace for luxury items, The RealReal, has been selling fake luxury products. The same month, officials seized thousands of counterfeit designer bags at Dulles International Airport.
According to FOX 5 DC, the counterfeit cache included 2,601 coin purses, 459 purses, and three backpacks adorned with Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Chanel, Dior, Prada, and Hermes designer labels.
Louis Vuitton 2003 pre-owned Monogram Multicolor Eye Love holdall
Don’t worry – all hope is not lost. We have the know-how on busting those fake Louis Vuittons, saving yourself the money and hassle of falling prey to counterfeit bag predators.
Without further ado, we bring you nine easy ways to tell whether your LV is the real deal:
1. The workmanship is top-notch artisanal
One of the more common ways to know if a bag is authentic or not is to check its workmanship. Just like Gucci handbags and other luxury designer bags, an authentic purse will have perfectly aligned stitches that are the same length.
In fact, the artisans behind authentic bags are so skilled that the number of stitches on one handle matches the other.
Authentic Louis Vuitton bags will have perfectly aligned stitches that are the same length
For Louis Vuitton bags, the stitching thread is more of a mustard color than a brighter yellow hue.
The leather pieces that make up the bag are perfectly cut and fitted with each other. If there are creases, bubbles, and misalignment due to bad fitting, you might want to put that bag down.
2. Hardware is beautifully crafted from brass
Bag connoisseurs know that the next thing to check for is hardware. Louis Vuitton uses top-grade brass hardware that usually comes in shiny or matte.
For shiny zippers and locks, do a reflection test – the brass should reflect as a mirror would.
Louis Vuitton uses top grade brass hardware
The zippers should not snag when you try to unzip the bag. Louis Vuitton also manufactures their own zippers and does not use YKK or other branded zippers.
Hardware should not be covered in plastic. Counterfeit bag makers wrap the hardware in plastic to prevent them from tarnishing right away. Quality hardware will not tarnish and is usually uncovered.
3. Shell pattern should be neat and symmetrical
Another obvious thing to look at in monogram bags is the shell pattern. For Louis Vuitton, the classic LV logo should be symmetrical and the letter L should always be lower than the V.
If the letters are wonky and not perfectly aligned, the bag is not authentic.
Louis Vuitton’s classic LV logo should be symmetrical and the letter L should always be lower than the V
It is also important to note the placing and consistency of the monogram pattern. If you look at the pattern diagonally, the order of one strip should be a fleur-de-lis, a circle, another fleur-de-lis, then the LV logo. The strip alternating it should contain only the fleur-de-lis symbol.
For logo embellishments, check that they are symmetrical and beautifully crafted. The Maison logo usually writes “Louis Vuitton Paris” in two lines.
4. Vachetta leather oxidizes and darkens over time
The leather strips that run across and make up the handles are called Vachetta leather. Vachetta leather is made out of natural, untreated European calf hide that darkens with oxidation over time.
Vachetta leather oxidizes and darkens over time
If the strips stay a pale color over time, it is fake. The leather should darken into a beautiful golden shade as it ages.
5. Handle trim should be a darker shade of red, not bright red
There are many great things about Louis Vuitton monogram bags that keep us preoccupied. To the hawk-eyed, one lesser-known detail is the red trim that runs along with the Vachetta leather.
Identify fake Louis Vuitton bags by studying the shade of the trim
You can easily tell a fake Louis Vuitton bag from an original one from the shade of the trim. The authentic ones will run closer to burgundy (but not quite) while counterfeits will usually be a brighter shade of red.
Low-quality Louis Vuitton counterfeits will also have the trim peeling off over a short amount of time.
6. Date code should be found on the lining
Each bag comes with a date code, which is basically a little leather tag where letters and numbers are embossed to note where and when the bag was made.
Unlike other bags, Louis Vuitton date codes are a little harder to find since they’re tucked within the lining. One thing is for sure: an authentic LV will always have a date code.
In some cases, the date codes are stamped into the lining.
7. Know your dust bag and box history
Counterfeiters often get lazy when it comes to details. A good way to catch fake products is to know your history of Louis Vuitton dust bags and boxes.
Dustbags before 2004 are made out of beige flannel with the LV logo on it and brown drawstrings. Some of the older bags may have blue drawstrings on them, and some have felt-like material that has jagged cut edges.
This brown leather trunk case from Louis Vuitton features a round top handle, a push-lock fastening, an all-over logo print, gold-tone hardware, a hanging key fob, an internal mirror, internal drawers, two removable logo-print bags, and two detachable shoulder straps
From 2004 to 2016, the beige dust bag is made out of flannel or linen. A perfectly symmetrical and centered LV logo is printed in brown on it. A small white tag saying where the bag was made can be found inside.
In 2016, Louis Vuitton revamped their packaging. All their boxes are orange with navy blue text. The dust bags followed suit, turning into a cream color with navy blue writing.
8. Use your sense of smell
This one takes some time to practice. It’s good to know what authentic leather smells like so you can easily set it apart from synthetic ones.
Also, if the bag reeks of chemicals, you might want to reconsider your purchase.
9. Common sense, really
If you have a bag that retails for $1,000 and is being sold to you at $100, there is much reason to be wary. Research the original retail price online before considering a purchase.
This dark brown and beige leather tote from Louis Vuitton features a monogram pattern, gold-tone hardware, round top handles, an internal logo patch, a hanging luggage tag, a drawstring closure, and a removable lining
Louis Vuitton also lists the retailers where their bags can be purchased. The brand also limits online resellers, so be careful of purchasing bags over the internet.
Louis Vuitton Questions and Answers
Why are LV bags so expensive?
One reason is the high manufacturing cost. The luxury brand produces its handbags in workshops located in France, Spain, and the United States, and does not outsource manufacturing to cheaper locations like India and China.
Cynthia Bailey carries a large Louis Vuitton tote at LAX on March 5, 2020
In addition, the company spends billions of dollars every year on marketing. According to Reuters, in 2018 Louis Vuitton spent 5.6 billion euros ($6.3 billion) on marketing, reaching 12% of group revenues.
Does Louis Vuitton have a sale?
No, Louis Vuitton doesn’t have sales that are open to the public. Instead of discounting, the company will burn or destroy unsold stock. In some countries, the company organizes secret sales for its employees.
Why does Louis Vuitton burn unsold bags?
While burning handbags helps maintain the exclusivity of their goods and stops them from falling into the hands of illegal counterfeiters, environmentalists have criticized the company for this wasteful strategy.
1. “The leather will never cut off at the LV logo.”
Some have claimed that pieces of leather will usually not cut off at the LV logo, but that is not necessarily true. For smaller bags, the logos are cut off at the edge.
One thing that you can check for, however, is if all the logos cut off at the same point. This means that the pattern is symmetrical.
2. “Louis Vuitton does not invert their logo.”
Again, this is not true. For models that use a single continuous leather piece such as the Keepall, one side will have inverted logos on it.
Louis Vuitton is continuously coming up with designs outside of the classic ones, so it’s good to know their bags well. A great way to familiarize yourself is to study their photos online.
If you’re in doubt about a purchase you made, you can call Louis Vuitton for help in authenticating your product.
Celebrity Fans of Louis Vuitton Bags
Some of the celebrities who go gaga over Louis Vuitton include Selena Gomez, Kim Kardashian, Taylor Swift, Rihanna, and Miranda Kerr. Check out more celebrities who love their LV’s below.
Miranda Kerr, Selena Gomez, and Rihanna love their Louis Vuitton purses
Hilary Duff gleefully strolls through the Los Angeles Airport (LAX) with her two-piece Louis Vuitton luggage
Cherries, pinks, and furry things: Kim Kardashian, Reese Witherspoon, and Kelly Osbourne prefer their Louis Vuitton with a dash of cuteness
Taylor Swift dresses up her casual outfit with a Louis Vuitton x Christian Louboutin “Shopping Bag”
Alicia Vikander, Dita Von Teese, and Christina Milian pick out variations of the infamous LV monogram
For more tips on busting the fake LV’s, watch the video below to see how a fake $169 bag compares to a real $1,850 handbag:
Credit: Louis Vuitton / KOKOPIX / Will Alexander / Ivan Nikolov / WENN
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Why Is It Suddenly So Hard to Buy Louis Vuitton Bags?
In my nearly decade-long career covering luxury brands, I’ve never thought of Louis Vuitton bags as scarce. To a certain extent, that’s a question of scale: Louis Vuitton has been the biggest luxury brand in the world for all of recent history. If your company is that big, you’re going to be satisfying the majority of consumer demand as a matter of course, because the business wouldn’t have grown to that size if it didn’t have manufacturing abilities that outpaced its competitors, which makes true scarcity far less likely than it would be for a smaller brand.
Louis Vuitton does many things other brands do to shore up a sense of exclusivity around its products, like requiring shoppers to buy directly from the brand and never putting accessories on sale. Barring an It Bag situation or special circumstances (such as the incredible, sustained demand for the Hermès Birkin and Kelly), though, it’s pretty easy to buy even the most popular designer bags from nearly any brand. But lately, Louis Vuitton bags, wallets, and small accessories can feel downright scarce. For example, right now, two of the four sizes of Vuitton’s most famous bag, the Speedy, are sold out in monogram canvas, both in the traditional and bandouliere models. I can’t remember that happening any other time in the past decade.
The Speedy isn’t a bag whose scarcity makes sense—it’s positioned as a handbag gateway drug, the type of bag that inures new customers to the idea of being luxury shoppers. Its purchase should feel like an event because it’s an individual first, not because the bag itself was difficult to track down. The Birkin, on the other hand, is the kind of bag whose scarcity moves it to the top of the shopping list for women who have long been buying whatever they want; gaining their attention requires different tactics than for those first entering the ranks of luxury shoppers. Because introductory-tier bags like the Speedy are affected by Louis Vuitton’s stock issues, as well as many wallets and small leather goods that are generally intended to be sold at high volume, it seems as though Vuitton’s out-of-stock problem is at least partially genuine rather than totally manipulated by LV in order to stoke customer demand. So what’s causing it?
The Cause of the Out-Of-Stock Problem?
We reached out to Louis Vuitton for comment, but the brand declined to participate in this story. That’s generally how luxury brands approach inquiries to their stock practices and manufacturing, which are full of tightly guarded secrets. What we do know, though, is that consumer interest in Louis Vuitton, and especially in its monogram bags, has rebounded in a huge way under the leadership of creative director Nicolas Ghesquiere. At the same time, the brand’s handbag and accessories lines have been in expansion mode, adding new designs frequently, which logically spreads LV’s existing manufacturing capacity thinner to cover a wider set of bags.
And we know that Louis Vuitton is actively looking to expand its handbag manufacturing: In October 2017, the brand announced it would be building a new bag and luggage manufacturing center in Keene, Texas, which will open in 2019 and employ 500 people. By all indications, the bags are selling out because people are buying them. Louis Vuitton may also be shifting its manufacturing capacity to increase production of other bags in its lineup, thereby making fewer of the super-popular styles than it has in the past, but it’s hard to imagine widespread inventory problems and investment in increased manufacturing capacity happening simultaneously without significantly increased consumer interest playing a role. It seems like a perfect storm of factors: demand is increasing just as Louis Vuitton has chosen to reallocate its resources in a way that constrains the supply of certain bags.
Our forum members speculate that Louis Vuitton is shifting some of its focus to its more expensive all-leather bags, and at least on the surface, this theory seems plausible—stock levels of the popular leather bags we checked are doing notably better than their monogram counterparts, although there are also inventory problems to be found among them. For instance, the just-launched Epi leather version of the Louis Vuitton Neonoe Bag is fully sold out online, although all colors were available at launch and a couple of them were still in stock as of last week. Forum members have been floating rumors and theories, some of them heard from in-store LV associates, about looming discontinuations of popular bags and tighter stock constraints coming up. Based on everything I’ve read and seen, though, the simplest explanation is probably the right one: The bags have become notably more popular, so there are fewer of them available, and that will probably be true until Vuitton expands its manufacturing capacity in a meaningful way.
On our PurseForum, members have been documenting their problems finding general Louis Vuitton stock since early November. The bag that’s been affected for the longest—its thread goes back over a year—is the Pochette Metis, which is currently one of the brand’s most popular designs. Both monogram versions and three of the five colors of the bag’s leather model are currently sold out. Megs has been trying to get her hands on one in monogram for weeks and has had no luck so far, but between her experience and those of our forum members, we’ve been able to compile some tips, tricks, and best practices for getting your hands on the hard-to-find LV bag of your dreams.
First, you’ll know a bag is sold out online because when you select it, it’ll say “call for availability,” where the button to place it in your cart would normally be. That’s prompting shoppers to contact the brand’s central customer service number, which can double-check website stock numbers for any customer. In order for that customer service line to help you find the bag in a store and arrange for a charge-send purchase, though, you’ll have to have made a purchase with Louis Vuitton in the past year. My understanding is that this purchase requirement wasn’t always the case, so that restriction suggests many shoppers are seeking help finding bags to have shipped from stores, and LV wants to ensure there will still be bags left for shoppers to buy when they come into their local boutique. Some items on the Louis Vuitton website will say “out of stock” instead of “call for availability,” and in those cases, it’s probably best to start shopping for something else.
When Megs contacted Louis Vuitton’s global customer service line to inquire about the Pochette Metis, she was advised that there weren’t any currently available to be shipped from stores in the US and that her best bet would be to check in with the Louis Vuitton site in the evenings, when a handful of bags (seriously, like two or three) are occasionally released for purchase as they become available. When you see one, you have to act quickly.
If you live near a Louis Vuitton store, your luck may be a bit better, especially if you have an existing relationship with a sales associate. In-store shoppers are given first dibs on bags that arrive in-store stock, and store associates are the ones who decide who gets on call lists and how that stock is allocated. As with any hard-to-get piece in fashion, it always pays to be a kind and loyal customer.
As with all sought-after luxury goods, though, the most expedient route to getting your hands on a sold-out Louis Vuitton bag is probably to buy from a third party and pay over retail. Websites like Fashionphile and The RealReal have immediate availability of Louis Vuitton’s most popular bags, but in a clear testament to how sought-after many of them are right now, the options in like-new condition will run you well over retail prices.
Louis vuitton bag wholesale from the manufacturer with Express China
Features of Louis vuitton
Bags are VERY high quality, 1k1, class AAA +, the best that is on the Chinese market. There are both primary leather and secondary leather and PU.
Cost and delivery times
Why is the price not indicated?
We are not resellers of Louis vuitton bags and do not stock any items. Our task is to find the most reliable manufacturers or suppliers on any Chinese Internet sites and wholesale markets.Give you all the information you need to order the required batch with the characteristics you require. The price varies from factory to factory and is highly dependent on the purchase volume and characteristics.
What markup can there be?
From personal experience, we can say that the difference between the price in China and the price of wholesalers in the CIS countries can differ by 80 percent or more. But there are some nuances with overstocking from wholesalers.
For example, a major wholesaler in a capital or region has ordered a large batch of Louis vuitton bags at a very low price.Has sold most of the batch with a good markup and is selling off the rest at cost or even lower. In this case, the price of a Louis vuitton bag can be very low, even less than that of a manufacturer in China.
You can find the average tariffs and transportation time from China below. Keep in mind that this is an average for all types of goods and already includes customs clearance. The cost of delivery of a Louis vuitton bag may differ both upwards and downwards
Where to buy a Louis vuitton bag?
Express China has been cooperating with Chinese factories and suppliers for many years, so we know all about the latest arrivals and can support you in purchasing bulk quantities at low cost.Working with us, you will not need to waste time looking for a supplier of Louis vuitton bags, comparing prices, processing paperwork and resolving issues related to delivery and customs clearance. Our specialists will do it all for you
China has always been famous for its rapidly developing production, affordable cost of goods and many original solutions, which are hard to find analogues. The production of this country is always moving forward with the goal of being the first on the market and offering Louis vuitton bags at competitive prices.That is why cooperation with suppliers from the Middle Kingdom is an attractive solution for your business. It is difficult to find a better partner.
Using our services, you can order goods in China that have no analogues in Russia, as well as purchase what customers already know and have gained popularity. In any case, you win, since a consistently high demand and minimal investment in procurement and transportation are ensured. Using our services, you can order everything for a one-page or store.
We work with trusted suppliers who provide only high-quality goods and offer the most affordable prices. In order to find such profitable partners on the Chinese market on your own, you will have to spend a lot of time and, possibly, make a number of unsuccessful purchases.
With us you save time and can order a Louis vuitton bag right now.
How to order Louis vuitton bag
Indicate the required characteristics and batch size in a simple form
We will promptly contact the manufacturer or supplier and discuss options for mutually beneficial cooperation
Request a Price
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90,000 24-Hour Billionaire: How Louis Vuitton Owner Made $ 100 Billion
“Bernard Arnault inspires me,” says Sharon Barber. The 38-year-old Los Angeles-based accessory designer flew to Paris in the midst of Fall Fashion Week and went to Louis Vuitton’s luxurious flagship store in Place Vendome to pay tribute to the head of the LVMH group of companies.Barber immediately attracts attention. He dyed his hair hot pinks and yellows, and then stencilled some of the dollar signs on it in black. On the teeth of the designer there are green grills, and a massive steel chain of locks from Louis Vuitton bags wraps around his neck. “Last year I spent a couple hundred thousand on Louis Vuitton items,” Barber adds. He makes a living customizing clothes and accessories for hip-hop stars such as trio Migos and rapper Post Malone. In the video for the song Saint-Tropez Post Malone wears a body armor that Barber made from a Louis Vuitton bag and black leather.The California-based designer is convinced that Bernard Arnault single-handedly formulated the modern definition of luxury.
“This is Louis Vuitton’s most unusual home. Here you can see the entire universe of the brand, ”says Arnault in a pronounced French accent, describing the Louis Vuitton flagship store opened two years ago. The store itself is a cross between a museum and a closed club. The glittering windows display Louis Vuitton items in all their variety. A marble staircase with glass balustrades leads to a private atelier on the fourth floor, where six tailors create bespoke dresses for celebrities such as Lady Gaga and Emma Stone.“I was directly involved in the creation of the store,” stresses Arno.
The Frenchman constantly monitors the financial performance of his largest brands. This is especially true of Louis Vuitton – the “money machine” of the conglomerate. According to analysts, it is Louis Vuitton that accounts for up to 47% of profits and almost a quarter of LVMH’s 2018 revenues, which totaled $ 54 billion. LVMH itself publishes financial statements for five main divisions, but does not disclose the performance of individual brands.
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The handbags, apparel and accessories that Louis Vuitton never sells in bulk or on discount are the perfect fusion of classic and modern. An excellent example of this combination is the limited edition, turquoise leather Capucines tote bag worth $ 8,600. The 29-year-old Harlem artist Tshabalala Self adorned it with a unique layered applique. At the start of the year, Louis Vuitton’s new men’s creative director, 39-year-old Virgil Abloh, also sparked a stir with a collection of glow-in-the-dark bags.Due to the optical fiber woven into the bags, the LV logo is illuminated in the dark with all the colors of the rainbow.
“What is the secret of the success of brands like Louis Vuitton and Christian Dior? It’s all about two aspects that can contradict each other: these brands exist timelessly and at the same time are more modern than ever, says Arno. “It’s like fire and water.”
Thanks to this paradox, companies of the LVMH group of Fendi, Bulgari, Dom Pérignon, Givenchy and other brands (more than 70 in total) achieved record sales and profits.This, in turn, contributed to an increase in the value of LVMH shares, which almost tripled in price in less than four years. Bernard Arnault, together with his family, owns 47% of the company’s shares. His fortune is now estimated at $ 102 billion – $ 68 billion more than in 2016. He ranks third in the ranking of the richest people in the world – after Jeff Bezos ($ 110 billion) and Bill Gates ($ 106 billion).
And even at the age of 70, Arno does not intend to stop there. In late October, LVMH announced preliminary negotiations to acquire the American jewelry brand Tiffany.Arnault plans to acquire the 182-year-old jewelry company for $ 14.5 billion. If the deal goes through, Tiffany will be his largest acquisition.
“If we compare us with Microsoft, then we can say that our company is not that big,” the billionaire notes. Indeed, the tech giant’s $ 1.1 trillion market value is well above LVMH’s $ 214 billion market cap. “But this is just the beginning,” adds the Frenchman.
Predator in expensive armor
Arnault’s early career in the industrial north of France was far from luxurious.The billionaire’s first love was music, but he lacked the talent to become an outstanding pianist. In 1971, having received an engineering degree at an elite French university, he began working with his father in a construction company founded in the city of Roubaix by his grandfather.
In the same year, in a conversation with a taxi driver in New York, Arno learned an important lesson, which later led him to the head of the LVMH empire. Arnault asked the taxi driver if he knew French President Georges Pompidou. “No,” the American driver replied.”But I know Christian Dior.”
At the age of 25, Arno took over the family business. After the socialist François Mitterrand became president of France in 1981, Arnault moved to the United States and tried to create a division of the family company there. But his ambitions went far beyond construction. He needed a project that he could scale up – a business with French roots and an international presence.
In 1984, upon learning that the Christian Dior brand was up for sale, Arno immediately decided to buy it.Dior’s parent company Boussac, which was also the largest manufacturer of textiles and disposable diapers, went bankrupt and the French government was urgently looking for a buyer. Arnault spent $ 15 million from the family capital and attracted the investment company Lazard Frères, which invested another $ 80 million in the rescue of Boussac. Newspapers wrote that Arnault first promised to resume production and save jobs. However, he then laid off 9,000 workers and sold most of the assets for $ 500 million.Such impudence was amazing – after all, Arnault did not act like a French, but like a real American. The press dubbed Arno “the wolf in cashmere.”
Arno’s next target was the Dior perfumery division, which was owned by the Louis Vuitton Moët Hennessy conglomerate. LVMH’s brand executives were in constant competition with each other, and Arno decided to capitalize on this. First, he became friends with the head of the Louis Vuitton company, the founder of which created special chests for Empress Eugenie, wife of Napoleon III.Arnault helped the head of Louis Vuitton topple the director of the alcohol division Moët Hennessy – only to later get rid of him too. By 1990, with the support of Lazard Frères and with money from the sale of the Boussac businesses, he gained control of the conglomerate, which included the famed French champagne maker Moët & Chandon and the French cognac maker Hennessy, founded in 1765.
Wolf in cashmere. Bernard Arnault’s Business Rules
With the Louis Vuitton Moët Hennessy at his disposal, Arnault has spent billions of dollars acquiring leading European fashion and perfume companies, jewelry and watchmakers, and fine wines and spirits.Since 2008, LVMH has acquired 20 brands, resulting in 79 companies now. In 2011, LVMH paid almost $ 5 billion (mostly in shares) for the Italian jewelry brand Bulgari. Two years later, it acquired the Italian wool and cashmere clothing manufacturer Loro Piana for $ 2.6 billion. The last takeover deal was concluded in April this year. LVMH paid $ 3.2 billion for London-based Belmond Group, which includes the Cipriani Hotel in Venice, Orient Express luxury trains and three safari hotels in Botswana.
Luxury wool. The history of the Loro Piana brand, whose things were noticed several times on Vladimir Putin
“Bernard Arnault is a predator, not a creator,” says a banker who knows the details of the deal to save Boussac.
But the billionaire was not lucky in all his endeavors. In 2001, he lost to his main rival François Pinault the struggle for control of the legendary Italian fashion house Gucci – the battle was dubbed “the war of bags” by the media.Over the next decade, LVMH, borrowing hedge fund tactics, secretly bought stock in Hermès, an 182-year-old company that makes silk scarves and iconic Birkin bags. By acting in this way, the Arno company has collected a stake of 17%. But in a protracted war with Hermès that lasted until 2017, LVMH was defeated and relinquished most of its stake.
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Arno looks like he is wearing some sort of armor when we meet on a cloudy Friday morning in late September.The billionaire wears several LVMH brands: a pinstripe suit from Celine, a navy blue tie from Loro Piana, black leather shoes from Berluti and a white Dior cufflink shirt with initials embroidered on it. He keeps fit by playing tennis four hours a week, sometimes with his friend Roger Federer. “As you can see, I try not to get fat and often go in for sports,” the Frenchman emphasizes.
Tennis is the only way for him to take a break from work. Arno’s working day usually starts at 6:30 am.He now lives in a 17th century mansion in the 7th arrondissement of Paris on the left bank of the Seine. Every morning, the billionaire listens to classical music, scans the news of the fashion industry and corresponds with family members and brand leaders. “Every day I think that in ten years time our brands should be as desirable as they are today. This is the key to success, ”says Arno. By 8 o’clock in the morning, he arrives at the office on Avenue Montaigne, where he works until 21:00. Sometimes he takes a break for 20-30 minutes to play the Yamaha grand piano in one of the halls on the ninth floor of the building.
Jamel Toppin for Forbes
“He works 24 hours a day. Even when he sleeps, he dreams of new ideas, ”says 44-year-old Delfina Arnault, Arnault’s eldest daughter from her first marriage and executive vice president of Louis Vuitton.
On Saturdays, Arno visits LVMH retail stores and gives shop assistants advice on window dressing. In one morning, he visits up to 25 boutiques – and not only his own, but also the stores of competitors. “This is his ritual,” says Arnaud’s 25-year-old son Frederik, who works for the TAG Heuer watch company, part of LVMH.
Arnault talks about what he saw in stores to the heads of the LVMH brands. He recently warned Louis Vuitton CEO Michael Burke that the flagship store in Place Vendome was out of new $ 2,480 Onthego bags. “He complains when too many items are sold out in stores,” notes Michael Burke, who has worked with Arno since 1980.
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At least once a month, Arnault flies in his Bombardier to the farthest corners of his fashion empire.In October, he visited the small Texas town of Keene, where he and US President Donald Trump inaugurated the first of two new Louis Vuitton factories. It is planned to create 1,000 jobs over the next five years. In the USA, the brand already has two similar enterprises – in California.
“I am not here to condemn his policies. I am far from politics, ”Arnault told reporters when asked about Trump. Nonetheless, the event sparked lively discussions among his company employees.Nicolas Ghesquière, creative director of the women’s line at Louis Vuitton, wrote on Instagram: “I am a fashion designer. I refuse such associations. ” He also added the hashtags #trumpisajoke and #homophobia. Arno did not react to Ghesquière’s remarks.
Bertrand Rindoff Petroff / Getty Image
In late October, Arno, Burke and Dior CEO Pietro Beccari were on a flight to Seoul to visit LVMH stores, including a new flagship boutique designed by renowned architect Frank Gehry.This is Louis Vuitton’s sixth art gallery store, featuring artifacts from the extensive collection of the Arno-sponsored Fondation Louis Vuitton. The exhibits of the collection can be seen in similar flagship stores and at the Louis Vuitton Museum in Paris, which was also created by Frank Gehry. The construction of the museum cost the conglomerate $ 135 million.
The geography of LVMH’s presence is impressive: 4590 stores in 68 countries. But the question of opening new stores or closing old ones often depends not only on traditional indicators such as sales per square meter, but also on Arno’s sixth sense and the location of the store.In China, one of the most important markets for his conglomerate, Arnault deliberately limits the number of Louis Vuitton stores in order to control LVMH’s growth.
Last year, Louis Vuitton closed a store in Florida’s Fort Lauderdale because nearby stores and restaurants weren’t attractive enough. Arno visited the Champs Elysees several times before approving a new Dior boutique near the Arc de Triomphe. Despite the data on low sales from the previous tenant, the billionaire still approved this site.“He crushes his authority to see if his subordinates are truly confident in the success of the venture. He challenges them, this is his tactic, ”says Beccari.
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Dior store on the Champs Elysees in Paris · Dior
A person who does not want to hear the word “no”
Another tactic of Arnault is to put rivals in an awkward position. In July, as many apparel and accessories manufacturers were competing to be the most sustainable brand, he announced a partnership with designer Stella McCartney (daughter of musician Paul McCartney), who has long sought to bring sustainable principles to the fashion world.For example, she says she does not use glue in her sneakers because it is made from animal bones and tendons. Last year, Stella McCartney completed a 17-year partnership with the Kering group of companies, which is owned by rival Arnaud François Pinault. Therefore, Arnault invited her to become his “special adviser”. McCartney agreed, despite LVMH’s decision to continue manufacturing leather and fur (and with the addition of glue). Arnault declined to join the Fashion Pact initiative launched by the Pino family.The pact was signed by 32 clothing manufacturers, including Chanel, Hermès and H&M. Stella McCartney also signed the pact. They all pledged to reduce the carbon footprint of apparel and accessories.
However, during Paris Fashion Week, Arnaud decided to demonstrate his commitment to the environment. At the Dior show, models walked the catwalk, on which 170 trees were set in dirty bags of earth. The theme of the show was sustainable development. The company told the press that electricity for the event was generated by generators fueled by rapeseed oil.The next evening, LVMH invited 50 journalists to take part in a two-hour event in the assembly hall of its headquarters. Arnault and ten LVMH brand executives took turns walking onto the brightly lit stage and talking about their commitment to the environment. In the background, video footage of shows and Kashmir goats roaming the Mongolian steppes was shown.
In the middle of the event, Arno was asked to share his thoughts on young climate activists such as 16-year-old Greta Thunberg.“I am an optimist by nature. The same cannot be said about Greta Thunberg. She is very pessimistic and does not offer real solutions to the problem, ”said the billionaire.
Bertrand Rindoff Petroff · Getty Images
Such a response might well be expected from a businessman. “He doesn’t like hearing the word no. There is no such word in his vocabulary, ”says Anna Wintour, editor-in-chief of Vogue magazine. He does not want to hear it either from competitors, or from the owners of companies of interest to him, or from environmentalists.
McCartney is just one of the celebrities he has collaborated with. In 2017, LVMH created the Fenty Beauty cosmetics brand in collaboration with singer Rihanna. The products are sold in 2,600 stores of the Sephora chain, which is also owned by LVMH. Fenty Beauty is targeting the general consumer: the brand’s tonal base is available in 40 shades. And Rihanna’s 77 million Instagram followers are another boost to the brand’s popularity. Fenty Beauty should have sales of $ 550 million this year, Arnault said.LVMH also launched the Fenty Fashion brand in May. The billionaire believes that Rihanna’s clothes will become as popular as her cosmetics. “She has a different vision of fashion. In the long term, this is very beneficial for us, because millennials like it all, ”says the Frenchman.
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Young and trendy: how rich millennials are helping Bernard Arnault compete with Bill Gates
Idyll before Game of Thrones
To keep his brands relevant, Arnault also consults with all his children from two marriages.Four of them work at LVMH: Delfina (44), Antoine (42), Alexander (27) and Frederic (25). According to Alexander Arnault, the businessman’s youngest son Jean (21) is likely to join the business when he finishes his studies.
Frederic Arnault 13 months ago became Director of Strategy and Digital Technology for the Swiss watchmaker TAG Heuer. At dinner one day, he presented his father with an idea: to improve the smartwatch for golfers, he decided to acquire the French startup FunGolf, which created an application with detailed characteristics of 39,000 golf courses.Golfers could use it to measure the distance to sand traps or bushes. “The M&A staff thought I was out of my mind,” says the billionaire’s son. But as soon as he told his father about this, he immediately supported his idea.
Alexander Arnault says his father just as quickly gave the green light to the technology deals that the family investment company Groupe Arnault concluded under his leadership. We are talking, in particular, about investments in Spotify, Slack, Airbnb, Uber and Lyft.In 2016, Alexander convinced the management of LVMH to pay $ 719 million for an 80% stake in suitcase manufacturer Rimowa. The fans of this 121-year-old German brand are footballer David Beckham and actress Angelina Jolie. At Rimowa, Alexander creates products in collaboration with well-known companies such as the American brand Supreme.
Delphine Arnault organizes the LVMH Prize for Young Fashion Designers, which is awarded annually to one of thousands of applicants. In 2015, Virgil Abloh became a finalist for the award and now works as creative director for Louis Vuitton’s mens line (and in 2009 Abloh did an internship at Fendi with his friend Kanye West).LVMH also launched a program to support 50 promising startups from the fashion industry in conjunction with the Parisian startup incubator Station F, the brainchild of French billionaire Xavier Niel (Delphine Arnault’s common-law husband and father of her two children).
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Jean Catuffe · Getty Images
So what do Bernard Arnault’s kids think of who will be the next head of LVMH? As if, following the same scenario, they all bypassed this issue. “Our father is very young,” says Delfina.“It will work for another 30 years,” notes Alexander. “I don’t think he will ever retire,” says Antoine Arnault, head of corporate communications at LVMH and head of the Berluti brand. “This is not what we think about. We hope that he will lead as long as possible, ”emphasizes Frederic Arnault.
“People keep asking me about this,” the head of the family says. – The most important thing for us is to find the best successor. And whether it will be one of the family members or someone from the outside – we’ll see. “When asked how long he was going to work, the billionaire replied: “I have not decided yet.”
Refusing to answer the question of which of his children he is likely to move up the career ladder, Arno is happy to talk about their talents. On an iPhone 11, he shows Frederic playing a Liszt sonata in preparation for a concert he will give with his mother at a music festival in the suburbs of Paris. 59-year-old Canadian pianist Helene Mercier-Arnault regularly performs in recitals and in chamber ensembles.“Like a real professional. I can’t do that, ”praises Arno for his son’s play.
Being the wife of a billionaire: the rules of life for pianist Helene Mercier-Arnaud
It seems that there is no sense of rivalry among the younger generation of Arnault. A family idyll reigns in the house. On Saturdays, children often have lunch with their parents, and in August they all go together for a couple of weeks in Saint-Tropez. However, Frederick admits that some disagreements sometimes arise – on the tennis court: “The situation on the court can be tense.The father loves to compete and does not like to lose. This trait has been passed on to us. ”
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In an interview with Forbes, none of the family’s close friends dared to bet on one of Arno’s children. But one longtime observer says that when Arno finally retires, the real Game of Thrones will begin.
Arnault is optimistic about the future. He is convinced that thanks to his family, LVMH will remain the market leader for many years to come. In his own opinion, he runs counter not only to his competitors in the fashion industry, but also to other global giants.He calls Microsoft “a great company,” but notes that Bill Gates only owns a small amount of its shares. “In the long run, it won’t be there,” he notes.
Before talking about his vision for the future conglomerate, he said: “In a sense, I should not say this, because you might think that I am pretentious.” However, the billionaire then added: “LVMH is a monument to France, because we represent France all over the world. People are well aware of the names Louis Vuitton, Christian Dior, Dom Pérignon and Cheval Blanc.Perhaps from France they know only Napoleon and General Charles de Gaulle. Therefore, it is very important that in the long term the conglomerate is under the control of the French family. ”
Translated by Polina Shenoeva
10 richest people in the world. Forbes rating
Ubrique – the secret supplier of the most famous brands in the world
- Katy Hope
Ubrique, a small town in the south of Spain, is very picturesque, but very far from major cities.It has no airport or train station, and even buses run irregularly.
It is located in a valley surrounded by high hills and is therefore most easily accessible by car. But drivers also have a hard time on twisty and often steep roads.
The city is located about 120 kilometers south of Seville, far from the world capitals of fashion – Milan, Paris, New York or London.
Nevertheless, this hilly town of whitewashed houses, known as pueblo blanco (white city), is home to leather goods, which are bought by many famous fashion brands.
Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Hermes, Chanel, Chloe, Loewe and Carolina Herrera employ artisans here. The most popular handbags, wallets and belts are born in Ubrik.
Factory workers are not allowed to divulge the names of customers
But almost none of these designers want to talk about it.
Much of this secrecy is due to fears that someone will copy the designs of expensive brands to produce cheap products – a costly problem for luxury brands.
Ranchel Leather Products Manager Juan Antonio Sánchez says large brands often have strict requirements.
“We have to sign a confidentiality agreement, then the factory, the manager and every employee have to sign it,” he explains. “The workers cannot photograph anything, they cannot use the design or any details of the product,” he explains.
Antonio Sánchez’s company, founded by his father, has been making leather goods for over forty years.But the history of leather processing in this city is much longer.
Leather crafts have been engaged in the city for two centuries already
It all started over 200 years ago – initially tanning of leather was done here. Gradually, residents began to make leather goods, which brought fame to the city.
The leather is now purchased elsewhere and the finished leather is delivered to Ubrik, where the craftsmen focus on more skilled work.
Today, more than half of the city’s residents are employed in this industry.They manufacture most of the leather goods sold in the country and supply many of the major fashion houses abroad.
The art of making these top quality leather goods has been passed down from generation to generation.
Antonio Sánchez says that most Ubrique residents learn the skills they need from childhood by watching their parents work.
“This technique can only be passed down from father to son because it is very specific. It’s kind of in their blood,” says Sanchez.
Many factories still refuse to use the assembly line
These are the skills that are honed for generations that expensive brands need.
Jose Urrutia, founder of high-quality footwear and accessories company La Portegna, says a friend told him about the city.
“I asked them for samples and I was overwhelmed by the quality of their products,” he says.
For José Urrutia, the history of the city and the way craftsmanship is passed down from generation to generation is also an attractive feature – it helps him create a story around his own brand.
He says that his grandmother, who at one time traveled a lot and even made friends with the writer Ernest Hemingway during his trips around the world, came up with the idea of starting the company.
José Urrutia says that the craft is gradually dying
José Urrutia looks at her photographs and regrets the irrevocably gone era – when things were appreciated.
He wanted to try to create the same feeling with his company’s products.
“The Ubrike craftsmen help me a lot with this because they have a lot of experience. They have been doing their craft for centuries,” he says.
He notes, however, that such a slow but meticulous way of working with leather is dying out, and true craftsmen are increasingly difficult to find elsewhere.
A dying craft
“The whole concept of this craft is dying. The great thing is that it’s not just one street or a couple of houses. It’s a whole city,” says Urrutia.
He admits that he could find cheaper and larger manufacturers elsewhere, but that is not the point, he says.
“Everyone always talks about economies of scale, but it doesn’t work here. It takes a certain number of hours to make a good bag. You can’t“ cut corners, ”he says.
Some of the local factories have started using an assembly line to speed up production process, however, many still refused to compromise.
Some city dwellers believe that the Made in Ubrique label should be officially introduced
Jorge Oliva Perez, general manager of local leather brand El Potro, says one craftsman still makes the entire bag – including the straps and decoration.
“It is very important not to lose these skills,” says Jorge.
Like many of those working here, Jorge would like to see this skill officially recognized with the introduction of the Made in Ubrique label.
“I think this is very important for our future,” he notes.
Urban craftsmen face competition from cheaper manufacturers
This could also help the city fight the increasingly obvious threat of competition from cheaper rivals.
About ten years ago, during the financial crisis, the number of orders for manufacturers dropped sharply.
Many of the big brands have decided to cut costs by changing suppliers.For the most part, they switched to manufacturers in China or elsewhere in Asia.
While orders from cheaper brands continued, work generally diminished, with the result that some craftsmen lost their jobs and moved to other industries.
All bags are made by the same master from start to finish and therefore differ slightly from each other
However, the cultural adviser in Ubrique José Manuel Fernades Rivera says that most of the craftsmen continued to work because they knew that the quality their products are better than others, and that the big brands will come back.
And so it happened. After a year, most of the big brands returned to the Ubrike masters.
Buyers in Asia want their expensive bag to be made by the hands of a real master
“The Chinese learn very quickly, but we know that only we can provide the quality, finish of every product that brands demand”, – he says.
Another problem that prompted the brands to return to the European manufacturer was that bags made in Asia proved difficult to sell to some of their largest customers in Hong Kong, China and Singapore.
When they pay hundreds or in some cases thousands of euros for an Italian or French designer bag, they expect it to be made in Europe and not in their home country.
And of course they want it to be made by a craftsman.
“In this business, you have to work with your hands. All products are unique because you create each one from start to finish,” says Antonio Sánchez.