Louis Vuitton and Hermès are among the most valuable luxury brands in the world, both respected for producing high-quality pieces and maintaining an extensive brand history. However, between the two, which brand is more expensive?
When comparing Hermès and Louis Vuitton, in general Hermès is the more expensive brand. Hermès also has a reputation for greater exclusivity than Louis Vuitton, though both are high fashion luxury brands.
Louis Vuitton and Hermès both boast impressive reputations, enduring styles, and quality craftsmanship. Regardless of which one is more expensive, consumers who are looking for luxurious items can find pieces from both brands that are sure to please.
A background on Louis Vuitton
Louis Vuitton opened his first workshop in 1854 in Paris. However, before this, he had 17 years of experience working as a trunk maker, a profession he began at only 16 years old and one which honed his design and craftsmanship skills.
Louis Vuitton found much success in his workshop which led to the opening of an atelier in 1859, subsequently followed by the expansion of the atelier which still produces Louis Vuitton leather goods today.
The brand’s instantly recognizable Monogram canvas emerged in 1896, created by Louis Vuitton’s son, Georges Louis Vuitton. The Monogram canvas was utilized across travel pieces and became intrinsically linked to a sense of high quality and scarcity, furthering the luxury nature of the brand.
Today Louis Vuitton offers a variety of premium offerings such as clothing, footwear, jewelry, bags, and small leather goods.
A background on Hermès
Hermès is a French high fashion luxury brand that was founded in 1837 in Paris, starting out as a harness workshop. Thierry Hermès established the workshop to provide European noblemen with saddles, bridles, and other leather equestrian supplies.
The harnesses gained renown for their subtle style and durability and in 1880 Hermès’s son, Charles-Émile Hermès, relocated the workshop to 24 Faubourg Saint-Honoré and established a retail store. Made-to-measure harnesses and saddles were created here and the brand’s reputation continued to grow across Europe.
Over the years the brand began to create new offerings in addition to harnesses and saddlery. The brand’s first leather bags and travel bags were introduced in the 1920s, while their first ready-to-wear item, a golf jacket, was created in 1925, followed shortly by jewelry and watches.
The brand’s first silk scarf was created in 1937, while the first tie was created in 1949. The brand’s iconic Kelly bag had been created in 1935 but was known as the Sac à dépêches before being renamed to the Kelly bag following a 1956 photograph of Grace Kelly carrying the piece.
The brand continued to expand into various new creative areas as well as across the globe and is today one of the most well-known luxury brands in the world. Consistency in the brand’s strategic creativity and development, innovation, a strong commitment to high quality, and a dedication to craftsmanship has seen the brand retain its impressive reputation for over 180 years.
The large majority of Hermès products are made in French workshops, with a focus on celebrating artisanal craftsmanship and creating enduring, quality pieces. The brand also continues to be family-run and maintains an air of premium exclusivity to this day.
Comparing the brands’ bags
Both brands are arguably most well known for their bags, so it’s useful to focus on this category when comparing which brand is the most expensive. Louis Vuitton usually charges over $1,000 for small bags, while Hermès small bags start at over $1,800.
When comparing their more expensive offerings, Louis Vuitton certainly creates highly expensive pieces such as a $79,000 crocodile skin backpack and the Louis Vuitton Urban Satchel which cost $150,000 and was made from upcycling rubbish waste to highlight environmental problems. However, these prices are still far below Hermès creations including several Birkin bags over $200,000 and several ultra-exclusive designer Hermès bags costing around $2 million.
The Hermès Birkin
Probably the most well-known bag from Hermès is the iconic Birkin. The bag was created in 1984, following a conversation between the actress and singer Jane Birkin and Jean-Louis Dumas, who was CEO of Hermès at the time.
Birkin mentioned that she required a medium-sized bag and the Hermès Birkin was subsequently created. A Birkin bag can range in cost from $7,000 to $300,000 (sometimes even more) depending on the materials used and the intricacy of the work required to make it.
Each bag is made by a single craftsman and can take anywhere from 18 to 24 hours to finish, though potentially longer if the bag uses crocodile skin. The bag is also associated with a long waiting list and may require customers to wait up to six years to receive their bag.
Louis Vuitton spends a larger part of its revenue on marketing compared to Hermès and is focused on aggressive expansion to become a globally dominant brand recognized worldwide (which it is). Hermès on the other hand has focused on retaining an air of exclusivity and scarcity with its offerings, taking a more subtle approach to its advertising than Louis Vuitton.
Between the two brands, Louis Vuitton is more widely accessible, both in terms of locations and products. Out of the two, Hermès is the more authentic luxury brand in regards to exclusivity and scarcity, a factor that contributes towards its ultra-luxurious pricing.