Madonna in Louis Vuitton ad campaign 2009. Photo taken by photographer Stephen Meisel who said he was impressed as she was able to hold that pose for ages…
With its handbags selling for thousands, Louis Vuitton has built its reputation on the highest quality. But advertising watchdogs have found the French design house guilty of misleading customers with two advertisements depicting its ‘craftsmen’ – because the bags are not actually made by hand.
Despite ads showing a ‘seamstress with linen thread’ and boasting of ‘infinite patience’, bags bearing the trademark pattern of an interwoven ‘L’ and ‘V’ are predominantly created by machine.
The Advertising Standards Agency (ASA) baned both advertisements two days ago. Louis Vuitton has argued the ads pay ‘homage to the craftsmanship’ of its employees rather than an accurate depiction of the manufacturing process.
Three people complained to the ASA, saying they did not believe the designer bags were made entirely by hand.
And after being challenged by the ASA, the designers admitted that sewing machines had been used, but said production of the bags was ‘not automated’ and that there were over 100 stages in the making of each bag.
The controversial ad showed a photo of a seamstress stitching the handle of a handbag, with the text reading: ‘The seamstress with linen thread and beeswax.
‘A needle, linen thread, beeswax and infinite patience protect each over-stitch from humidity and the passage of time.
‘One could say that a Louis Vuitton bag is a collection of details. But with so much attention lavished on every one, should we only call them details?’
A second ad showed a woman making a wallet, with the text stating: ‘The young woman and the tiny folds. In everything from Louis Vuitton, there are elements that cannot be fully explained. ‘
‘What secret little gestures do our craftsmen discretely pass on? How do we blend innate skill and inherent prowess?
‘Or how can five tiny folds lengthen the life of a wallet? Let’s allow these mysteries to hang in the air. Time will provide the answers.’
In 2007 the label launched one of the world’s most expensive handbags, called the Louis Vuitton Tribute Patchwork Bag – which cost around £24,000 ($35,000) and was snapped up by celebrities including singer Beyonce.
Bosses at Louis Vuitton told the ASA that its ‘artisans were trained over many years to be able to carry out the various activities involved in the creation of one of their accessories’ and said the models in the photos were ‘instructed’ how to pose by experts.
Bosses at the fashion house admitted that sewing machines were used as they made the items ‘more secure and (were) necessary for strength, accuracy and durability’.
But ASA bosses found that Louis Vuitton were in breach of the truthfulness clause, saying it ‘considered that consumers would interpret the image of a woman using a needle and thread to stitch the handle of a bag in the ad to mean that Louis Vuitton bags were hand-stitched’.
They also found that the advert featuring a wallet being made would also lead people to believe it was almost entirely hand-crafted.
The ASA said that although Louis Vuitton provided it with evidence that many ‘hand-crafting techniques’ were used in the production of the bag and wallet, it fell short of what was needed to prove the products were made by hand.
It stated: ‘We noted that we had not seen documentation that detailed the entire production process for Louis Vuitton products or that showed the proportion of their manufacture that was carried out by hand or by machine.
‘Because we had not seen evidence that demonstrated the extent to which Louis Vuitton products were made by hand, we concluded that the ads were misleading.’
The ASA said the ads breached the truthfulness clause and ordered the press ad not to be used again.
Is this just another marketing trick, using that old saying “even bad advert is a good advert”? We’ll never know, but the truth is that the whole world debates today if LV ad ban was fair or unfair thing to do…
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