The history of the suitcase is a story of people in migration.The history of the suitcase is a story of people in migration.While the popular imagination dates the beginning of the suitcase to the period of industrialization in the 1800s when well-heeled travelers stood on smoke-filled platforms ready to board their trains for summer excursions, the story begins much earlier.
By 1596, the Oxford English dictionary added the word “luggage” to its tomes. The word meant “denoting inconveniently heavy baggage” and came from the verb “lug.” Throughout the 17th and 18th century, art and literature portrays the migrations of people across Europe in particular, usually depicting travelers walking or riding horses as they carry knapsacks, bindles and other loose bags.
The golden age of luggage indeed arrived in the 19th century, as travel became a part of the social capital of the wealthy and powerful.
One of the most prominent real-life figures in this shift was Louis Vuitton, a young Parisian trunk-maker who helped create one of the most recognizable luxury brands in the world.
When the young Louis arrived in Paris at the age of 16 in 1821, he became an apprentice to box-maker Monsieur Maréchal. After honing his craft for 17 years, Vuitton would finally open his own brand, under his name bearing the well-known logo.
“In order to be irreplaceable one must always be different.” —Coco Chanel
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