PARIS, France — Louis Vuitton is working to open a factory in the US as demand for its iconic canvas-and-leather handbags continues to rise.
The LVMH-owned brand is also likely to add an additional production site in France, and could expand its workshop in Portugal, chief executive officer Michael Burke said.
LVMH chairman Bernard Arnault first floated the possibility of a Louis Vuitton factory in the the Carolinas or Texas during a January visit to New York to meet with then President-elect Donald Trump.
"It’s being negotiated," Burke told Bloomberg on the margins of Louis Vuitton’s show during Paris Men’s Fashion Week, declining to give more details.
Global demand for luxury goods is bouncing back faster than expected after economic uncertainty in China and a terror-related slump in European sales had stymied growth for high-end brands during several years. LVMH, which makes luxury goods ranging from Hublot watches to Veuve Clicquot champagne, sailed past estimates in the first quarter to report sales up 15 percent over the previous year.
Since the 2013 arrival of artistic director Nicolas Ghesquiere, leather goods-maker Louis Vuitton has reinforced its image as the brand of travel with elaborate womenswear shows at architectural landmarks in cities as far-flung as Palm Springs, Rio de Janeiro, and Kyoto.
At the same time, menswear director Kim Jones has tapped into a younger generation of luxury shoppers with initiatives including a collection with the New York streetwear brand Supreme, which will hit stores next month. With 17.7 million followers, Louis Vuitton is the second-most followed luxury label on Instagram, trailing only Chanel.
Ready-to-wear fashion is currently the fastest-growing category for Louis Vuitton, Burke said. While the company envisions ramping up production of handbags like the €895 Neverfull tote, production of the fall menswear collection — including the Supreme and LV-branded gear — are being restricted to protect the brand’s exclusive image.
Shipments will meet only a "fraction" of demand, Burke said. "We capped orders. It’s the very definition of luxury to have an exclusive product."
By Robert Williams; editors: Eric Pfanner, Mark Deen.