Material Matters: A Guide to Louis Vuitton Textiles
Whether you’re a seasoned collector or just starting to dabble in the world of designer brands, there’s a lot to learn (and appreciate) about the Louis Vuitton collection. One little secret you may or may not be privy to is that each design has a unique textile and materials that age differently and require different levels of care and attention.
When you’re thinking about how often you’ll use your handbag, how long you’d like to keep it, and whether you’re hoping to resell it in the future, these subtle details matter.
So beyond their heritage and styling how-to’s, there are practical matters to tend to. From the most delicate to the most durable, here’s the low-down on which Louis Vuitton prints call for what kind of care (if at all), and how that might influence your buying decisions.
Easily the most recognizable, distinctive, and timeless, the Classic Monogram has literally been adored for over a century —- first making its appearance in 1896, after Louis’ son George created it in an attempt to stop counterfeit designs from going into the market. (Clearly, counterfeiters have gotten more sophisticated in the last few decades. Luckily, so have we).
Though this print truly stands the test of time, the materials themselves behave more like a fine wine: they get better with time but require some care and attention to coax that process along.
As you’ve probably learned from owning other fine leathers, the “Vachetta” — the soft, delicate leather on the handle and along the rim — will naturally darken or “patina” over time. This look is both beautiful and desired, but has to be handled with care so it happens evenly: because of its delicate nature, vachetta can be prematurely discolored by hand oils, weather, and moisture. There are ways to patina vachetta on purpose, see Vachetta Leather: Achieving the Ideal Patina.
Damier Ebene & Damier Azur
Aptly named, “Damier” literally means checkerboard in French. And even though you may not have known that little bit of trivia, you likely recognize the print — and love it. Why? Our theory: it’s the most “Louis” print you’ll ever see that doesn’t have a monogram on it. With a heritage as rich as the Classic Monogram (first entering the market in 1888), and a beloved favorite of Audrey Hepburn’s in the 1940s, Damier still manages to be an of-the-moment piece, transcending stuffy traditionalisms like season and gender.
Similar to the Classic Monogram in both heritage and materials, the Damier also requires special care to ensure that it ages with grace. Its delicate nature is equally part of its charm — just be sure you’re ready to treat it like royalty. Damier Azur, with its blue and cream tones, is inspired by the French Riviera. Damier Ebene in two shades of brown typically doesn’t have Vachetta leather and for that reason is a little more durable.
For those of us who adore timelessness but are equally enthralled by ‘spicing things up’, there really is no better option than the Monogram in Reverse. Not nearly as adventurous as some of the artist collaborations, it strikes a balance of feeling both fresh and versatile.
More importantly for the purposes of our discussion here: because the print extends to the handles and straps, this bag also offers more durability. If you’re someone likely to face impromptu sprints in the rain or well-meaning but handsy nieces and nephews, you may enjoy more peace of mind with a slightly less delicate item.
First introduced in 2010, Louis Vuitton Empreinte, or embossed monogram leather, is made from soft, durable calf leather that is very easy to take care of. As high-fashion as it looks, this might just be the perfect “practical” pick for new moms or anyone who potentially doesn’t want to be worried about overly delicate materials. While other pieces require care and refinement over time, the Empreinte is consistently beautiful, durable, and in that sense — one of those rare gems in life you can count on.
Louis Vuitton’s Epi leather is, dare I say, making an epi(c) comeback. Epi leather is an iconic material known for its distinctive texture and durability. Introduced in the 1980s, this leather has a unique grained appearance, achieved by embossing the leather with a pattern of grooves. The leather is then dyed, creating a rich, vibrant color that stays true over time. The Epi leather is also incredibly strong and resistant to scratches, making it a popular choice for Louis Vuitton’s signature handbags and small leather goods. From the classic Alma and Neverfull bags to the sleek and modern Twist and Louis Vuitton’s Epi leather adds a touch of sophistication and luxury to any accessory.