The corporate tagline for luxury conglomerate LVMH is “Passionate About Creativity” and nowhere more is this creativity displayed than through the company’s namesake brand Louis Vuitton (LV). This week Louis Vuitton brought their long history and passion for creativity to China with the opening of the Louis Vuitton Voyages Exhibition at The National Museum of China in Beijing. The Voyages exhibition traces the history of the LV brand over the last 155 years with hundreds of trunks, photos and other artifacts from the LV archive.
The brand, founded in 1854 foundation originally focused on the design and construction of high quality trunks for the luxury and intrepid travelers of yesteryear. Vuitton has now grown to become the worlds leading luxury company and 26th most valuable global brand according to Milward Brown.
Obviously Louis Vuitton has a massive commercial stake in China considering it will become the world’s biggest market for luxury goods by 2015, but its not as if LV has just disembarked from the Orient Express now in China to sell their wares to the world. In fact LV was one for the first luxury brands to enter China, and opened their first store in Beijing’s Peninsula Hotel in 1982. Since then the brand has grown steadily and now has 36 stores across the country including in far-flung cities such as Hohhot in Inner Mongolia. There are also rumors also that LV will open their biggest store in the world in China sometime next year.
As far as the luxury business in China goes, Louis Vuitton is easily the most impressive brand. Impressive in terms of store design, impressive in terms of visual merchandising, impressive in terms of people seen everyday with LV products, and of course very impressive in terms of sales.
Whereas other luxury brands in China seem to skimp on their displays and assume their brand name and products are strong enough lures to capture consumers, Vuitton doesn’t rest on their laurels. LV’s window displays are updated every six weeks and are consistently the most creative and well-presented store displays of all brands across China. On the day the Voyages exhibition opened in Beijing all window displays were changed updated to the ‘Voyages’ theme with air balloons, speedboats and planes being combined with their travel photos invoking nostalgia for the type of travel more common in a bygone.
One cannot but admire and respect the business savviness of Bernard Arnault – owner of LVMH and now the fourth richest person in the world. While he certainly does profit tremendously from the LV brand, he is also is a leading force in creativity and a patron of art and design throughout the world. Although China is opening to the world the Chinese people and the business world are still struggling to capture their full creative potential with most more interested in making a quick profit rather than investing time and passion into something creative and long term. Therefore the Voyages exhibition is exactly the kind of thing that Chinese should see and absorb, and not just for the LV products on display but also for the way the whole exhibition is curated, which in the Maosuit’s opinion is excellent.
For anyone in or visiting China, The Maosuit highly recommends a visit to the Voyages Exhibition at The National Museum in Beijing. The exhibition runs through August 30 and is open from 9am – 5pm (closed Mondays). The National Museum of China is located at 16 East Chang’an Avenue in Beijing and lies adjacent to Tiananmen Square in the centre of the city.
For those who cannot visit in person see below and here for a video walk through from the opening night.