— ALVARADO Natural light streams in through the windows and reflects on the artists at the Louis Vuitton Rochambeau Ranch in Alvarado. According to the premium handbag manufacturer, the structure was created to foster innovation among its 300 craftspeople. On Friday, Louis Vuitton gave the journalists an up-close peek at the details that go into making a handbag. This weekend, the ranch will be accessible for free one-hour public tours, which are already fully booked. The trips are part of LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton's Les Journées Particulières, or "Special Days."
The firm stated that it intends to expand the ranch to allow for additional training and manufacturing, with the goal of reaching 1,000 craftsmen in Alvarado. The ranch will be expanded to 256 acres and is slated to open next year. This is the seventh time the French handbag, wallet, and accessory manufacturer has conducted tours of its stores and manufacturing facilities, but the first time it has done so in Alvarado. During the media tour, Louis Vuitton refused to allow on-the-record interviews with artisans and staff. "It provides a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see the real sites where the magic happens and receive invaluable insights into how our artists construct fantasies that, in turn, make our world a more beautiful place to be," said Bernard Arnault, chairman and CEO of LVMH, in a statement.
The walls inside the ranch tell the story of Louis Vuitton. There are photos of the French general who helped the 13 colonies with independence during the Revolutionary War, who the ranch is named for. The ranch went by Rockin’ Z when LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton bought it.
There are also photographs of Louis Vuitton himself. He is primarily recognised for his work on trunks. In 1859, he extended his business by constructing a workshop in the heart of Paris with 20 workers. Louis Vuitton recorded $54 billion in revenues for the first nine months of 2022, and it employs 156,000 people worldwide, 33,000 of them are in the United States.
No wonder Le Tanneur says, "We are simply Maître Maroquinier," as the company was founded in 1898. (Master Leatherworker). The excellent level of craftsmanship used in all handcrafted full-grain leather products, including purses of all shapes and sizes, attests to this axiom. Le Tanneur produces leather bags of different types for both men and women that are said to survive the test of time. Le Tanneur practises the art of leatherwork under the guidance of mediaeval master craftsmen. This attention to small detail can be observed in each bag, whether it is a Limited Edition Madeleine handbag in a hobo, crossbody, clutch, shoulder, or backpack form. Prices start at $120 and go up to $1,080.
Workers in Alvarado are divided into stations for painting, cutting, and other tasks. According to the manufacturer, some of their bags need over 350 steps to finish. The walls are lined with coloured leathers and threads on spools, and each work station has a tiny bag containing the scissors, paint brushes, sewing kits, and detailed equipment used by the artists.
The School of Leather Craftsmanship trains new craftsmen for five weeks. For the first two weeks, workers learn the fundamentals of Louis Vuitton's equipment. The third week is dedicated to learning how to hand-paint items. The latter two are devoted to perfecting a certain item. According to the manufacturer, all of the leather skins are sourced from Northern Europe and tested for flaws. Hides that are rejected because to stretch marks or imperfections are kept for artisan training.
The Rochambeau Ranch is one of three Louis Vuitton ranches in the United States, the other two of which are located in California. This weekend, 57 companies across 93 sites in 15 countries opened to the public.