- Title: Louis Vuitton opens new atelier in French town famed for leather work
- Date: 6th September 2019
- Summary: POISSON TAKING LEATHER PATCHES LEATHER PATCH FOR SHOE UNDER SEWING MACHINE LEATHER SHAPED AROUND SHOE MODEL (SOUNDBITE) (French) RETIRED FACTORY WORKER AND VOLUNTEER AT MUSEUM, EDITH POISSON, 67 YEARS OLD, SAYING: "(In my family), there were textile workers, people who worked in shoe-making. My parents worked in shoe-making, and myself as well. In the Mauges region, we lived on making shoes." HIGH-HEELED SHOES MADE IN ONE OF THE REGION'S FACTORIES, IN THE 1970'S OR 80'S (SOUNDBITE) (French) RETIRED FACTORY WORKER AND VOLUNTEER AT MUSEUM, EDITH POISSON, 67 YEARS OLD, SAYING: "At this time (1990s), they were not really capable of adapting. If they had foreseen a bit earlier the coming crisis (of factories shutting down), we maybe would have turned towards luxury goods, because we had the manual expertise anyway. And if we had gone into luxury goods, we could have charged higher prices. I think that this way, we could have maybe resisted (changes) longer. I don't know." BEAULIEU-SUR-LAYON, FRANCE (SEPTEMBER 5, 2019) (REUTERS) LOUIS VUITTON BUCKET BAGS FROM 'NEONOE' SERIES WORKERS IN PRODUCTION LINE (SOUNDBITE) (French) LOUIS VUITTON CEO MICHAEL BURKE SAYING: "Louis Vuitton is more exclusive now than 10 years ago. You should compare the size of Louis Vuitton to the size of the market. The global market has seen extraordinary growth. There's 500 million potential clients in China, that didn't exist 15 years ago. If you compare the size of Louis Vuitton to the size of the market, we're more exclusive today than 10 years ago." BEIJING, CHINA (SEPTEMBER 6, 2019) (REUTERS) EXTERIOR OF LOUIS VUITTON STORE, CARS LOUIS VUITTON SIGN OUTSIDE STORE CUSTOMERS OUTSIDE STORE LOUIS VUITTON BAG FROM 'MINI-LUGGAGE' SERIES (SOUNDBITE) (Mandarin) 24 YEARS OLD, WORKING FOR A PHARMACEUTICAL CONSULTING COMPANY AND OWNER OF LOUIS VUITTON PRODUCT, ZHANG AOXUE, WHEN ASKED WHY SHE IS WILLING TO BUY LOUIS VUITTON HANDBAGS WHICH SOME PEOPLE CONSIDER TO BE QUITE EXPENSIVE, SAYING: "I think buying luxury handbags doesn't just satisfy your consumer needs. It's more that luxury products give you a sense of satisfaction and design. What we're buying isn't the bag itself but more the added value that it brings us. I think this is the main reason (why) I am willing to spend so much money on such things." SKYSCRAPERS
- Embargoed: 20th September 2019 13:53
- Keywords: Louis Vuitton factory leather goods hand bags Michael Burke artisans
- Location: BEAULIEU-SUR-LAYON AND SEVREMOINE, FRANCE/ BEIJING, CHINA
- City: BEAULIEU-SUR-LAYON AND SEVREMOINE, FRANCE/ BEIJING, CHINA
- Country: France
- Topics: Arts / Culture / Entertainment,Fashion
- Reuters ID: LVA003AVIT2KN
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text:A Louis Vuitton handbag like the round monogrammed 'sac petite boite chapeau', that lands in a store in New York or Shanghai, sold at $3,200, could probably trace its roots in a small village in western France.
The French luxury brand inaugurated a new atelier in the village of Beaulieu-sur-Layon on Thursday (September 5), employing 135 people from the region, which was once a hub of shoe production until the industry waned in recent decades.
"If France is number one in the world in luxury, it's because of these leather workshops in France," Louis Vuitton CEO Michael Burke said on Thursday, after touring the factory floor.
A three hour drive west of Paris, home of Louis Vuitton's headquarters, Beaulieu-sur-Layon is attractive not only for its proximity but also for its heritage.
Benedicte comes from a family of leather workers. In January, she breezed through the practical and theoretical tests given to prospective Louis Vuitton workers, and is now one of the first employees in the new workshop.
Burke said the factory draws on the "savoir-faire" or the expertise that runs deep in this part of France, where cows graze next to vineyards.
In the 1960s, the Mauges region hummed with factories that supplied a quarter of shoes sold in France, as the industry boomed due to evolving fashion attitudes. As incomes grew, shoes turned from simple utilitarian wear to capricious accessories.
But good times did not last in Mauges.
Cheap labour elsewhere in Europe, and later on in Northern Africa and in China, killed around 400 factories in the region, eliminating around 16,000 jobs.
A 100-year-old shoe museum in Sevremoine, around 70 kilometres from the new Louis Vuitton factory, is a time capsule of the industry's heyday.
Edith Poisson worked for 44 years in a factory, as her parents, and now that she has retired, she volunteers at the museum.
On hindsight, she said, factories could have turned towards luxury clients, who value craftsmanship more than mass production.
"If we had gone into luxury goods, we could have charged higher prices. I think that this way, we could have maybe resisted (changes) longer. I don't know," she said.
In fact, mass production is the exact opposite of what Louis Vuitton clients are looking for.
"Louis Vuitton is more exclusive now than 10 years ago," Burke said, adding, "If you compare the size of Louis Vuitton to the size of the market, we're more exclusive today than 10 years ago," Burke added.
Vuitton also tends to trade off its "Made in France" cachet, with majority of its workshops located in France. Burke said the brand has no plans to relocate any manufacturing to China or Asia to be closer to this huge pool of sales.
Like rivals including Kering's Gucci, Vuitton is riding high on strong appetite from young Chinese consumers with a taste for branded goods.
Demand from these customers accelerated in the second quarter at Vuitton from the first three months of the year in spite of a Beijing-Washington trade war.
The company is looking to hire an additional 1,500 manufacturing staff in France by 2022.
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