Louis Vuitton recently reported “the softest growth [it has experienced] in the past 12 years,” and while pointing fingers at the company's unsustainable market saturation sales technique and its lack of ubiquity makes sense, I think the root of the company's problem actually dates back to the early 20th century. From 1854 until the early 1900's, Paris-based Louis Vuitton primarily manufactured its signature trunks. In 1901, the company began making smaller pieces of luggage, but it was not until the 1930's that they sold their first bags as we know them today. (The first Speedy bag dates back to this time). The company's shift towards practicality (the use of lighter, less bulky bags as opposed to trunks), coupled with its attempt to broaden its reach in terms of potential customers and its use of the LV Monogram as a means of protecting itself from design piracy, is likely the reason Louis Vuitton is not reporting increases in sales equivalent to Hermes.
When luxury fashion allows practicality take the forefront in terms of the direction and design of its products, isn't this the first step towards brand suicide? Louboutin's pumps do not have a 6" heel and asteroid spikes primarily for practical purposes. Alexander McQueen's designs were hardly ever dictated by practical matters. Givenchy's Spring 2012 couture earrings were the antitheses of practicality. So, maybe Louis Vuitton's mistakes are more extensive than its fueling of logo-mania, and instead, speak to the deeper inherency of high fashion that we have seemingly lost touch with as of late with even the oldest and greatest design houses inches towards full-fledged accessible luxury.