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Louis Vuitton Bag History and Their Unique Date Codes

Posted by Label Society on Jun 15th 2020

When one thinks of unparalleled luxury and unrivaled French elegance, Louis Vuitton easily comes to mind. A favorite among Hollywood legends like Audrey Hepburn and present-day muses such as Sophie Turner, Louis Vuitton is undoubtedly one of the world’s most iconic luxury fashion brands. From the ultra-versatile Louis Vuitton Neverfull to the effortlessly cool Twist Bag, Louis Vuitton purses are some of the most sought-after and coveted bags of all time.

Who is Louis Vuitton?

On August 4, 1821, Louis Vuitton was born in Anchay, a small town located in the Jura region of Eastern France. Around the age of 14, he decided to leave his home and made his way to the more exciting city of Paris, taking occasional jobs here and there to support himself during his two-year journey. Upon his arrival in Paris, a bustling environment of lavish parties, and elaborate wardrobes, he became an apprentice to a trunk maker and packer named Monsieur Maréchal.

Vuitton quickly gained a reputation as one of the city’s best packers, which was a popular trade at the time as the elite and travelers hired such craftsmen to store and protect their garments and other finery. Vuitton got the royal seal of approval when he became the favorite packer of Empress Eugénie, the wife of Napoleon III, and started designing her personal luggage. As the most powerful woman and trendsetter in France, Empress Eugénie’s patronage paved the way for Vuitton, who ultimately opened the doors to his own packing workshop in 1854.

When did Louis Vuitton start making bags?

Louis Vuitton is credited for inventing the world’s first flat trunk. Prior to this, traditional luggage was bulky and featured dome-shaped lids to run-off rainwater. Constructed from elegant Trianon canvas, the rectangular shape of Vuitton’s flat trunk made it easy to stack during transport for transatlantic ship voyages and train rides. Referred to as the birth of modern travel, Louis Vuitton luggage remains as popular as ever and is still produced in the label’s original workshop and atelier in Asnières, France.

A new mode of transportation became popular in the early twentieth century: the car. Going on spontaneous drives and taking impromptu weekend jaunts soon became fashionable. The Keepall was created in 1924 by Gaston Vuitton, the grandson of Louis, to cater to the new desire for a travel-friendly and compact bag that was more suitable for shorter trips. Louis Vuitton’s first handbag followed suit in 1930: The Speedy. A smaller version of the popular Keepall, the original Speedy measured 30cm and was designed for everyday use.

Why are Louis Vuitton bags so expensive?

Exceptional craftsmanship, attention to every detail, and outstanding durability are attributes that you can expect from the luxury label, whether it’s in the form of a Louis Vuitton belt or a Louis Vuitton shoulder bag. Notorious for never offering discounts or any form of sales promotions, Louis Vuitton bags are revered status symbols that will never go out of style.

Under the esteemed LVMH group since 1987, Louis Vuitton continues to apply and practice the same traditions and values they’d perfected so long ago. While Louis Vuitton’s iconic trunks and custom special orders are still made in Asnières, workshops and factories have since expanded around the globe to accommodate and sustain the ever-growing demand for their classic designs and new product launches. From Spain to the United States, the workshops leave marks on finished products in the form of date codes.

Do all Louis Vuitton bags have numbers?

While other luxury brand items are equipped with serial numbers, Louis Vuitton bags use something more distinctive: the date code. A unique letter and number combination containing information about when and where your bag was produced, the date code was created during the start of the 1980s. It is important to note that bags made before that time period will not have date codes.

A date code can be a helpful first step in gauging your item’s authenticity, as it gives you possible warnings and red flags that you should look into. It could be as simple as spotting a date code that isn’t formatted properly, or your bag could have a ‘Made in’ label that doesn’t correspond to the date code’s country of manufacture.

Do Louis Vuitton wallets have date codes?

Date codes aren’t just exclusive to Louis Vuitton bags; they can also be found in other product lines such as Louis Vuitton shoes, bag charms, bag straps, jewelry, scarves, wallets, and key holders.

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How do you read a Louis Vuitton date code?

Though reading a Louis Vuitton handbag code can seem like a complicated and daunting task at first, it is actually pretty easy to understand and decipher. Here is a list of Louis Vuitton’s country codes:

Louis Vuitton Country Codes and Factory Locations

France:

A0, A1, A2, AA, AAS (Special Order Product), AH, AN, AR, AS, BA, BJ, BU, CO, CT, CX, DR, DT, DU ET, FL (also USA***), LW, MB, MI, NO, RA, RI, SA (also Italy), SD (also USA), SF, SL, SN, SP, SR, TH, TJ, TN, TR, TS, VI, VX

Germany:

LP, OL

Italy:

BC, BO, CE, FO, MA, OB, PL, RC, RE, SA (also France), TD

Spain:

BC, CA, LO, LB, LM, LW, GI, UB

Switzerland:

DI, FA (also Italy)

USA:

FC, FH, FL (also France), LA, OS, SD (also France), TX

***Identical codes mean that the item could be made in one of two countries. In the case of code SD, a Louis Vuitton factory opened up in San Dimas, California in 1995, so items made after 1995 should have a corresponding ‘Made in USA’ label.

Now that we’ve gone over the country codes, let’s explore how to read and understand the various Louis Vuitton date code formats:

How to Read Louis Vuitton Date Codes

Time Period Date Code Format
Early 1980s 3 or 4 numbers, with the first two symbolizing the year of manufacture and the last number(s) representing the month.

E.g. a code of 813 would mean that the item was made in March 1981, while 8212 would mean that it was produced in December 1982.

Mid to Late 1980s 3 or 4 numbers that followed the original format of the early 1980s, plus 2 letters representing the place of manufacture.

E.g. a code of VI8610 would mean that the item was made in France during October 1986.

Please note that both the numbers (month and year) and the letters (country code) can be found at the start or at the end of date codes. This means that there are six possible formats for date codes during this time period:

  • 1.Number + Number + Number
  • (Year) (Month)
  • 2.Number + Number + Number + Number
  • (Year) (Month)
  • 3.Number + Number + Number + Letter + Letter
  • (Year) (Month) (Country Code)
  • 4.Number + Number + Number + Number + Letter + Letter
  • (Year) (Month) (Country Code)
  • 5.Letter + Letter + Number + Number + Number
  • (Country Code) (Year) (Month)
  • 6.Letter + Letter + Number + Number + Number + Number
  • (Country Code) (Year) (Month)

1990 to 2006

2 letters (country code) and 4 numbers. The first and third numbers represent the month, while the second and fourth numbers represent the year.

E.g. A code of CA1913 would mean that the item was made in Spain during November 1993.

2007 onwards 2 letters (country code) and 4 numbers. The first and third numbers represent the week of manufacture, while the second and fourth numbers represent the year.

E.g. A code of SD2101 would mean that the item was made in the USA during the 20 th week of 2011.

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Where can you find date codes?

Louis Vuitton date codes are embossed, printed, or stamped. Louis Vuitton puts date codes on different areas for the same bag styles, so it can be very tricky to locate them. However, the general rule of thumb is to thoroughly search the interior then move on to exterior elements such as shoulder straps. Most commonly, date codes can be found on the rectangular leather tags that are sewn into a bag’s interior seam lining. They can also be embossed or foil-stamped inside pockets, under small interior flaps, and on small leather tabs.

However, there are also plenty of reasons why some Louis Vuitton bags don’t have date codes. For starters, Louis Vuitton only introduced date codes during the 1980s, so if a bag was manufactured before that, it won’t have a date code. Another common instance is that bags that are lined in Alcantara, a suede-like microfiber material, are likely to have date codes that have been rubbed off over daily wear and use.

Can a date code determine the authenticity of a Louis Vuitton bag?

Counterfeit items will also be stamped with date codes. However, being equipped with the necessary skills to understand how to read date codes can be helpful in the first steps of determining a bag’s authenticity. For example, the date code for a Pochette Metis bag could read: DR1151. This means that the bag was made in France on the 15 th week of 2011. Since the Pochette Metis was launched in 2013, this wouldn’t be possible, indicating that the bag is likely a fake one.

Similarly, if you spot a date code that doesn’t match the bag’s ‘Made in’ label, it doesn’t immediately mean that it is not authentic. Whenever a bag is sent in for repairs, Louis Vuitton always puts in a new date code. It’s also possible that the bag gets repaired in another country, so it would have a new date code that contrasts with the ‘Made in’ label.

Ultimately, reading Louis Vuitton date codes can’t guarantee your bag’s authentication. However they can tell you a lot about your bag’s history and origins, which can help with the authentication process as a whole.