louis vuitton bags
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Louis Vuitton bags: The complete buyer’s guide

20 Feb 2024 | |By Hitanshi Kamdar

Look beyond the monogram at Louis Vuitton’s most iconic bags of all time

Handbag connoisseur or not, you’re sure to associate the ubiquitous LV brown and gold monogram with some of the world’s most coveted bags. First designed by Georges Vuitton in 1896, the logo has the kind of brand recognition marketing professionals can only dream of and was created as an homage to the brand’s eponymous founder who, in 1837, arrived in Paris on foot aged 16 to begin an apprenticeship crafting bespoke luggage trunks. In 1854 he founded the French maison on trunks of his own, so it’s only right that, among its other high fashion offerings, Louis Vuitton bags continue to charm the fashion set.

While Louis Vuitton evolved into an all-round fashion brand complete with womenswear, menswear, and couture, its roots in accessories have resulted in many a cult favourite handbag. From Audrey Hepburn and Lauren Bacall to Rihanna and Sarah Jessica Parker, various renditions of classic Louis Vuitton silhouettes have been adored by style icons. 

Rooted in heritage craftsmanship and bolstered by the iconic monogram, bags such as the Alma, Speedy, and Neverfull are perennially pinned to fashion moodboards. According to Bonhams, Louis Vuitton is the third-most popular brand at auction after Hermès and Chanel, while it is also a top-seller at handbag restorer and reseller The Handbag Clinic. “As a brand, Louis Vuitton has one of the fastest sell-through rates with over 45 per cent selling in just 30 days,” says Charlotte Staerck, CEO and co-founder of The Handbag Clinic.

Why are Louis Vuitton handbags so popular?

The patented monogram is a status symbol in itself, and toting a bag emblazoned with the logo speaks volumes, but what sets Louis Vuitton handbags apart is the fact that their designs are truly timeless and versatile. “Louis Vuitton has a great range of ‘heritage’ style handbags that stand the test of time and rarely go out of fashion,” says Meg Randell, head of Bonhams’ designer handbags and fashion department. Rooted in the French label’s traditional design language, the bags on offer are designed to appeal to every aesthetic and preference. From satchels and crossbody bags to roomy tote bags, there’s a Louis Vuitton bag for every occasion.

Louis Vuitton bags can also prove to be a smart investment piece. While the style of the bags means they’re versatile and will blend seamlessly into your wardrobe, they also hold their value. While Louis Vuitton bags rarely sell for more than their original price, good condition bags retain 40 to 70 per cent of their value and generally perform better than brands such as Gucci, Prada, or Dolce and Gabbana, according to Randell. The highest resale value is attributed to those bags made in collaboration with artists, such as Yayoi Kusama and Takashi Murakami, or with brands such as Supreme.

While fluctuating markets can make a designer bag a risky investment, Randell believes they still make for a good buy: “Louis Vuitton designs usable bags so I say: use them, love them and when you want to sell, you will still be able to get a good return.”

How to care for your Louis Vuitton handbag

Like most luxury handbags, a Louis Vuitton creation is primed to be a treasured heirloom for generations, provided you take care of it. The first rule for tending to your Louis Vuitton handbag is avoiding over-packing so as to help it retain shape. It’s also recommended that you store it in the felt or dust bag provided. While natural cowhide leather will darken over time, limiting prolonged exposure to direct sunlight can help delay the process. For canvas bags, make sure you clean them using a soft damp cloth with slightly soapy water. You can also entrust your used favourites to luxury handbag restorers, such as The Handbag Clinic, to replace or repair the leather, fix straps, or clean stains.

The most famous Louis Vuitton handbags

Louis Vuitton Speedy

Introduced in 1930, the Speedy has been an It-bag for more than 90 years now. The elegant duffle silhouette was derived from the brand’s Keepall, which was launched six years prior and offered an easy-to-use everyday option. Crafted from cotton-canvas, the first Speedy was devoid of the quintessential monogram while its original 30cm width has also since been reimagined in numerous sizes, most notably a smaller version popularised by Audrey Hepburn. The compact travel staple has also been the base for artist collaborations and has been rendered in large and nano sizes in everything from sequins to shearling.

Speedy Bandoulière 30 bag

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Louis Vuitton x Takashi Murakami Speedy 30 tote bag

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Louis Vuitton Alma

Officially launched in 1992, the Alma bag is a uniquely structured offering with a round top silhouette drawing on the Steamer travel bag. The large trapezoidal bag was originally designed as a smaller version for Coco Chanel in 1925, before being released commercially and eventually reinterpreted as the sleek version we see today. The bag is finished with structured stitching and two top handles held together by gold-tone hardware. With numerous sizes and countless collaborations and renditions, the popular bag has made its way into many a style icon’s elbow crook.

Sequin monogram eclipse Alma PM

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2010 pre-owned small Alma tote bag

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Louis Vuitton Neverfull

When it comes to tote bags, the Neverfull always tops the charts with its roomy design. Despite being a relatively young entrant into Louis Vuitton’s handbag roster, the Neverfull achieved cult status soon after its debut in 2007. Designed to compete with the Goyard Saint-Louis tote, each Neverfull takes 45 hours to make, with the exquisite attention to detail resulting in a bag that is also completely reversible and comes with a detachable clutch. The bag is now rendered in numerous styles including the classic monogram and damier crosshatch pattern. The versatile bag is also practical, with the largest model carrying up to 90kgs despite its slender top handles, a testament to the brand’s expert construction.

Neverfull GM tote bag

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Neverfull GM tote bag

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Neverfull MM tote bag

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Neverfull MM tote bag

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Louis Vuitton Noé

Paving the way for the rise of bucket bags, Noé was initially designed in 1932 to carry bottles of champagne. The chic bag is crafted with a drawstring closure and comes in various sizes; the Noé and Petit Noé can be differentiated by the leather detailing on the bottom, while the Marc Jacobs-designed Neo Noé is a sleeker, smaller iteration that works well as an elegant statement piece.

2011 Petite Noe bucket bag

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1996 Noé shoulder bag

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Louis Vuitton Pochette Accessoires

The Pochette Accessoires bag is a great investment in 2024 given the popularity of Y2K aesthetics. The mini shoulder bag straddles the line between a purse and a pouch and has been favoured by celebrities including Sarah Jessica Parker and Paris Hilton. Staerck has noticed a resurgence in demand, explaining, “In 2017, these bags sold on the preowned market for £95-£200. But because Louis Vuitton often sells out of this style on the primary market, this has had a knock-on effect for the secondary market and preowned versions have shifted for as much as £700-£800.”

Pochette Accessoires

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Pochette Accessoires

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Mini Pochette graphic-print shoulder bag

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2004 Pochette shoulder bag

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Louis Vuitton Capucines

First seen on Angelina Jolie, the Capucines bag was launched in 2013 with the line's name paying homage to the location of Louis Vuitton’s first store on Rue Neuve-des-Capucines in Paris. The trapezoidal bag gained popularity for its understated and stylish design which replaced the LV monogram with minimalist LV initials set into the leather body. Crafted in multiple sizes, colours, and materials and made to be carried in multiple ways thanks to its top handle design and crossbody strap, the Capucines has also been widely used for artist collaborations, resulting in some rather rare pieces perfect for avid collectors.

Capucines BB bag

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