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Louis Vuitton Neverfull vs. Goyard St. Louis – Which One Was First?

Louis Vuitton Neverfull vs. Goyard St. Louis – Which One Was First?

Louis Vuitton Neverfull vs Goyard St Louis Who Was First

The Louis Vuitton Neverfull and the Goyard St. Louis – we could say it is a battle of the bags – which one is better, more luxurious, more classic and ultimately, who came up with it first?

Both houses share a similar history as they started out making trunks and added handbags later on to their product portfolio. Probably the most important thing which is different between Goyard and Louis Vuitton is their marketing approach. While the latter heavily invests in online and offline marketing and believes in celebrity endorsements and big events, Goyard does not advertise actively. Instead, they rely on word-of-mouth and, similar to Chanel, Goyard does not sell online. According to the Goyard website, depending on your location and proximity to a “comptoir” (their term for licensed seller), there may be distance services available.[1]

Let’s take a closer look into the history of the two brands and explore which one launched their famous bag first.

You can also watch my video here:

Development of the Tote Bag

Before we dive into the details about the two bags, it is vital to understand the overall development of handbags, and the tote bag in particular. The Louis Vuitton Neverfull and the Goyard St. Louis are both tote bags: A larger bag, usually unfastened with two straps on the sides of the bag. We could say the most basic model of a tote bag is the fabric shopping bag. The biggest development for handbags happened in the 20th century; in parallel with women gaining more rights. This also affected fashion as women moved away from unpractical clothes and accessories. With travelling becoming more accessible due to train connections, also the luggage changed. The term “handbag” refers to the luggage which the travellers carried with them by hand into the cabins. Previously, when travelling by train or horse-drawn carriage, most of the luggage was stored somewhere else during the journey.[2]

In the 1920s, women still used straw bags for shopping and carried an additional clutch. The more women started entering the workforce and the more empowered they became, the more also the handbags changed away from their mere decorative function. Women carried big “Boulevard”-bags or female suitcases. As mentioned in the article “7 Facts about Coco Chanel”, her signature 2.55 handbag which was launched in 1955, was very innovative and practical because it had multiple compartments. Furthermore, its decorative straps also allowed women to have their hands free. From then on, bags evolved into all the different shapes and forms we know today. Needless to say, this development also influenced trunk-makers or luggage producers who often expanded their product range with women’s handbags.[3]

History of Goyard

Goyard is one of the oldest leather goods producers which is still operating. Originally, Pierre-François Martin founded his trunk-making business in 1792 called “House of Martin”. Martin was a so-called malletier who made boxes, trunks and other luggage for the French upper class. Similar to Louis Vuitton, he focused more on the art of packing than actual trunk-making in the beginning. Martin started his business at 4 rue de Neuve des Capucines and as his business expanded, he moved to then 347 rue Saint-Honoré in 1832. It was later renumbered to today’s number 233 and has remained their flagship store. A funny detail: Louis Vuitton moved into the the former Goyard premises in the rue Neuve des Capucines in 1854.[4]

Pierre-François Martin was a widower and had no children but he was the guardian of Pauline Moutat. When she married Louis-Henri Morel in 1841, Martin gave him his business as her dowry and Morel became his successor and renamed the business Maison Morel. In 1845, the 17-year-old François Goyard was hired as an apprentice and learned the business from Martin as well as Morel. In 1852, Morel died suddenly and Goyard took over the business, renaming it into Maison Goyard. For over 30 years, he led the Maison before handing it over to his son Edmond in 1885 who again renamed the business, this time in E. Goyard Aîné (the elder). Under Edmond, the business became popular with international clients. He was very savvy in advertising and also participated in several World Exhibitions to raise awareness about the brand. Furthermore, he opened branches in Monte-Carlo, Biarritz and Bordeaux and also established trade offices in New York and London. Product-wise he also expanded their range and added lines for cars and even dogs (which was called “Le Chic du Chien”).[5]

Louis Vuitton Neverfull vs Goyard St Louis Who Was First Goyardine
The Goyardine is a reference to the family heritage and also features the name “E. Goyard”, the street, “Honoré” and “Paris”; Picture Source: Goyard Official Website.

Similar to Louis Vuittion, Goyard products come with a signature pattern called the Goyardine. This canvas was created by Edmond as well in 1982. The dotted pattern symbolizes the family background, as many male members of the family worked in log driving. These dots form a triple chevron creating the illusion of the letter Y – the central letter in the family name Goyard. And also similar to Vuitton, Edmond included his name in the canvas as well as the street, “Honoré”, and “Paris”. The Goyard website does not specifically mention it but we can assume that the motivation for creating a signature canvas and pattern was a similar one as Vuitton’s: the trunk makers were faced with counterfeit issues and tried to protect their products by using such canvases.[6]

Goyard not only supplied affluent clients in- and outside of France, they also became a purveyor to kings and heads of state. As proof of these realations, their letterhead from 1891 features the coat of arms of the British Royal Family, the Russian Imperial Family and the Great Seal of the United States of America. Furthermore, in the 20th century, they were popular amongst celebrities such as Romy Schneider and Lauren Bacall, business people such as the Rockefellers or the Agnellis and artists such as Pablo Picasso. Even “competitors” from the fashion industry were seen with Goyard luggage – even Mademoiselle Chanel. And you may have seen Karl Lagerfeld famously travelling with his Goyard luggage; he was a life-long client since Goyard opened their long-term customer account in 1972.[7] 

As mentioned in the article about the Louis Vuitton materials, many trunk-makers at the time experimented with alternatives to leather. The Goyardine is made from Poutangris, a coated cloth blend of linen and cotton which was used as a working garment as it was durable, flexible and waterproof. Goyard (again similar to their competitor Louis Vuitton) was ahead of his time as many competitors still used plain linen cloth or leather which was much heavier and less durable. The exact method and “ingredients” used to create the Goyardine are kept as a company secret until today. However, Goyard states that they still use the original process to coat the cloth with natural resin. Until the early 2000s, the pattern was hand-painted but then Goyard switched to screen printing. Personalisations are still hand-painted. Therefore, similar to the famous Louis Vuitton bags, Goyard bags are not made from leather but from coated canvas.[8]

After falling into a slumber in the second half of the 20th century, the Maison was acquired by Jean-Michel Signoles in 1998 who gradually brought its heritage back to life by opening new workshops in France. Signoles also opened boutiques in Europe, the Americas and Asia. As mentioned previously, Goyard does not actively market the products and puts a big emphasis on the craftsmanship and exclusivity of the brand.[9]

The Goyard St. Louis Tote Bag

The Goyard St. Louis is made of the Goyardine. It is interesting to know that the production of the signature canvas stopped after World War II and only resumed when Signoles took over in 1998. He also introduced further colours to the original black shade: red, orange, yellow, green, sky-blue, navy blue, burgundy, grey and white. Silver and gold are used for hard-sided luggage only. Of course, Goyard also launched limited editions, the pink Goyardine achieved cult status among fans of the Maison.[10]

The St. Louis is the most popular bag of the Goyard brand and according to Sotheby’s it is responsible for more than half of the company’s revenue. (The Saigon is the second most popular bag.) The St. Louis comes in three sizes, PM (Petit Modèle, small model), GM (Grand Modèle, big model) and XXL and has a detachable pouch. The junior size has been discontinued. The Saint Louis PM and Saint Louis GM are the most popular sizes. Depending on the size and model, the St. Louis ranges from EUR 1,350 to 2,050 at the time of publishing this article.[11]

Louis Vuitton Neverfull vs Goyard St Louis Who Was First Colours
In addition to the original black shade, there are further nine colours of the Goyard St. Louis; Picture Source: Goyard Official Website.

And now we need to pay close attention: the St. Louis was created in the 1930s. Bear this in mind, we are now moving over to Louis Vuitton and their Neverfull Bag.[12]

The Louis Vuitton Neverfull

The stories of Louis Vuitton and the Maison Goyard similar, at least when it comes to the beginnings of the brands and their heritage. As mentioned previously, there is another article with the Louis Vuitton brand history in more detail. Therefore, this article gives just a brief summary. If you want to learn more, please head over to the article about Louis Vuitton Bag Materials.

Louis Vuitton started as an apprentice for Monsieur Maréchal, a well-known packer and trunk maker, in 1837 and soon established his own name leading to the opening of his first own store in 1854. Similar to the beginnings of Goyard, Vuitton focused on packing and developed flat trunks which were more practical than the other luggage used at the time. Another similarity to Goyard: Louis Vuitton developed their signature material – coated hemp oil fabric which was more sturdy and lighter than leather. Georges Vuitton, Louis’s son created their famous Damier pattern, and later on with the Monogram canvas which is probably a bit more known than their competitor’s Goyardine.[13]

Louis Vuitton Neverfull vs Goyard St Louis Who Was First Neverfull Styles
The Louis Vuitton Neverfull is available in different sizes and styles; Picture sources: Louis Vuitton Official Website.

Initially launched as a seasonal beach bag, the Neverfull soon became popular for daily use as well. The bag comes in many different interpretations – from the classic Damier and Monogram Canvas, to the Monogram Empreinte leather, for example, and special editions. Inititally launched with a beige or “Cerise” interior (the latter meaning “cherry” in French and it is a shade of red), today there are more colours for the interior. The Neverfull is currently sold in four sizes: MM (Moyen Modèle, medium model), GM (Grand Modèle, big model), PM (Petit Modèle) and BB (Bébé Bandouliere, baby shoulder bag. Similar to the St. Louis it comes with an additional detachable pouch which was introduced in 2013. Depending on the size and design, the Neverfull ranged between EUR 1,500 to 2,200 at the time of publishing this article.[14]

Let’s look at the Louis Vuitton Neverfull vs. the Goyard St. Louis: The one who did it first was clearly Gyoard, as the Louis Vuitton Neverfull was introduced in 2007. While younger than the St. Louis, it soon overtook the Goyard bag in terms of popularity.[15]

Now we know that the Goyard St. Louis was created first. But does this mean that Goyard invented this style of tote bag? I would argue no. As both bags are classic tote bags, there is nothing particularly special in terms of construction or style which one brand could claim as their signature design only. Furthermore, there are quite a few other brands which have similar bags and some of them are even older than the Goyard. Let me briefly introduce two examples:

Further Examples

Moreau

Moreau St Vincennes St Tropez Tote Bag
Moreau St. Vincennes (left) and St. Tropez (right); Picture Sources: Moreau Official Website

Louis Moreau was yet another famous trunk maker. As a master cabinetmaker since 1764 he even supplied Emperor Napoleon himself. In 1878, the family opened their first store under their own name in Paris. Today, the company sells similar tote bags to the Louis Vuitton Neverfull and the Goyard St. Louis. They are from similar materials (coated canvas) and to give you an idea: Their Vincennes model in the small size was EUR 1,900 and their St. Tropez model (GM) was EUR 900 at the time of publishing this article.[16]

Moynat

Moynat Oh Tote Bag
Moynat “Oh! Tote”; Picture Source: Pinterest

Another example is Moynat, which also started as a trunk making business in 1849 which was a collaboration between the Coulembier family, trunk manufacturers, and Pauline Moynat – the only femal trunk maker at the time. And similar to the previously mentioned companies, they also benefited from the changes in the travel industry due to trains and automobiles. Like the previously mentioned businesses, they also worked on waterproof materials. However, Moynat started to create women’s handbags relatively early: Pauline Moynat launched the first range of ladies’ handbags in 1878. The house reached the height of its success between the 1920s and 1970s until it fell into kind of a slumber and changed ownerships quite a few times until it was acquired by the LVHM group (who also owns Louis Vuitton)in 2010. It is quite interesting, on their website explaining the Maison Moynat’s history, they do not mentioned this fact at all and probably many people are not aware that it is part of the same group as Louis Vuitton. We do not know whether this is a strategy or not.[17]

Moynat’s most known bag is the “Oh! Tote”, crafted from “Canvas 1920 M monogram”. The round details at the strap handles are a tribute to the Maison’s heritage in produce automobile trunks. The material is also a tribute to the waterproof material of the trunks. Moynat’s monogram design was originally designed by painter Henri Rapin in 1920 distorting the letter M. The tri-coloured ribbon was reimagined when the bag was recently reinterpreted. Similar to Goyard, Moynat does not sell via an own online store. Depending on the size and model, they are currently around EUR 1,300-1,800. It seemed that Moreau follows a similar approach as Goyard, as they do not have an online store. (However, during the research for this article, the Google search revealed old links leading to some products; it could not be determined if they are currently rebuilding the website or applying a different distribution approach.)[18]

Conclusion

In conclusion, is it possible to determine a winner of this battle of the bags? I t is tricky. Firstly, the research of the history of the brands and bags revealed that many of them claim that they were “the ones” creating the materials, patterns or bags. As this article shows, the brand histories and products tend to overlap in a lot of areas. Ultimately, a lot is marketing and branding – heritage sells. If we merely look at the battle “Louis Vuitton Neverfull vs. Goyard St. Louis”, Goyard launched their tote bag much earlier than Louis Vuitton but given the industry development and that many of the companies which are famous for handbags today started out as trunk-makers, we cannot say that there was only one company or person who invented this particular style. Furthermore, as mentioned earlier, the construction and shape of the bag is nothing complicated or special. Ultimately, it is a personal decision if you firstly, opt for such a tote bag and secondly, which brand you prefer, as they are all very similar. The “loudest” is probably the Louis Vuitton Neverfull, followed by the Goyard St. Louis, while other similar brands may be a bit “more “quieter”. (Even though this is also relative – Moreau and Moynat are not as known overall (many people do know Louis Vuitton) but they are also getting more and more popular).


Footnotes

[1] Goyard 2024a, Goyard 2024b.

[2] Art UK 2024, Reader’s Digest 2024.

[3] ibid.

[4] Goyard 2024b.

[5] ibid.

[6] Goyard 2024b, Goyard 2024c, Sotheby’s 2024a.

[7] Goyard 2024b.

[8] ibid.; For sources about Louis Vuitton, please check the article “Louis Vuitton Bag Materials Explained”.

[9] Goyard 2024b, Goyard 2024c.

[10] Goyard 2024b, Goyard 2024c, Sotheby’s 2024a.

[11-12] ibid.

[13] For sources about Louis Vuitton, please check the article “Louis Vuitton Bag Materials Explained”.

[14] Louis Vuitton 2024, Sotheby’s 2025b.

[15] ibid.

[16] Moreau 2024a, Moreau 2024b.

[17] Moynat 2024, LVMH 2024.

[18] ibid.


Sources

Art UK, To have and to hold: a visual history of handbags, last accessed on 23 March 2024.

Goyard, FAQ, last accessed on 23 March 2024.

Goyard, Goyard History, last accessed on 23 March 2024.

Goyard, Goyardine. An Emblematic Canvas, last accessed on 23 March 2024.

Louis Vuitton, Official Website, last accessed on 23 March 2024.

LVMH, Official Website, Houses – Fashion and Leather Goods, last accessed on 23 March 2024.

Moreau, Official Website, last accessed on 23 March 2024.

Moreau, History, last accessed on 23 March 2024.

Moynat, Moynat Since 1849, last accessed on 23 March 2024.

Reader’s Digest, The evolution of: the handbag, last accessed on 23 March 2024.

See Also

Sotheby’s, Ultimate Guide to Goyard Tote Bag Styles: Saint Louis and more, last accessed on 23 March 2024.

Sotheby’s, Louis Vuitton Neverfull: The Tote That is Truly Never Full, last accessed on 23 March 2024.


Disclaimer

This article is based on the personal, views, experiences and research of Elisabeth Steiger, no fees were received by the organisations and people mentioned above. All information as of the date of publishing/updating.


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