There is a distasteful phrase that seems to get thrown around an awful lot these days: “mass market luxury”. For me personally this is the ultimate contradiction of terms. Maybe I’ve become too much of an elitist but how can something made for the masses be considered luxurious? And yet, as more and more of the world’s best known brands compete with each other to gain valuable market share in the rapidly developing countries throughout Asia and South America, it seems this is exactly what’s happening.
Sure on the one hand this is filling the gaping holes left in their income statements by the stagnant growth in Europe, and to a lesser extent North America but at the same time more clients mean more products, which inevitably means a loss of exclusivity, right? Thankfully though not all brands are choosing to tread this increasingly well-worn path, instead favoring a focus on high-end craftsmanship and limited production to ensure their levels of desirability remain at all times high.
To prove this point we have done an exclusive shoot with just such brand to show you what true luxury is all about: presenting the inimitable Maison Goyard.
(Click images for hi res versions)
For those not familiar with this iconic French trunk-maker allow me to provide a brief background by way of introduction. Founded by Pierre-François Martin in Paris as the House of Martin all the way back in 1792, the small company first made a name for themselves as trunk-packers, as opposed to makers. Although the House of Martin did sell an assortment of boxes and cases, they were best known for their skill at carefully packing fragile furniture and objects, as well as hats, gowns and flowers, a practice that is these almost unheard of but at the time was an essential service. Thanks to this enviable reputation the House quickly found favour with the French aristocracy and were eventually granted the prestigious tittle of official purveyor of HRH Marie-Caroline de Bourbon-Siciles, Duchess of Berry.
It wasn’t until 1845 however when Louis-Henri Morel – successor to Martin – hired a young François Goyard as an apprentice that things really started to take shape. Just 17 at the time, Goyard would receive invaluable training under the guidance of both Martin and Morel. In 1852 Morel died suddenly and so François took over the business, remaining at its helm for the next 32 years as he begun to realize his vision of taking the House to a whole new level.
In 1885, he handed the business over to his son Edmond, complete with the state-of-the-art workshops he had pioneered, firmly believing that total control over the manufacturing process was the key to achieving excellence. With this strong foundation to build upon Edmond set about making Maison Goyard the incredible institution we know today. Credited with creating the emblematic Goyardine canvas, launching a pet accessories range and developing products for automobiles, Edmond’s influence can still be seen in today’s products.
Furthermore, by creating the first Goyard advertisements and participating in various World Expositions, he introduced the brand to a host of new, high-end international clients. He opened three branch stores in Monte-Carlo, Biarritz and Bordeaux, as well as trade offices in New York and London, the latter located on Mount Street, like today’s Goyard Mayfair boutique, which played host to our exclusive photo-shoot.
Fast-forward 128 years and not much has changed at Maison Goyard. Now owned by Jean-Michel Signoles, a keen collector and connoisseur of all things Goyard, the brand continues to produce exceptional products of enviable quality. There is still an unparalleled focus on manufacturing in-house and there is still a level of bespoke service and customization that other brands could only dream of offering.
Don’t just take my word for it though. Check out the brand for yourself, discover just what you have been missing out on, and enjoy the gallery of our images below.
Part 2 coming up on Monday with some frankly unreal timepieces…!!
Written for us by Tom Mulraney, who is also the editor in chief of TheWatchLounge.com