The History of the Iconic Goyard Brand
The Goyard brand, home to handmade luxury trunks, leather goods, and handbags, was centuries in the making. Yet, what began as artisans crafting high-end trunks and luggage for the French aristocracy has grown into the most discreet, even elusive, luxury brand. Goyard doesn’t advertise. They don’t list or sell their products online, and they do not speak to the media. Instead, they adhere to the old-world philosophy they helped to craft — that true luxury speaks for itself. Let’s explore Goyard history to learn more about this intriguing atelier.
Early Goyard Brand History
Goyard is the oldest leather goods maker still in business today. It is the continuation of a malletier founded in 1792 by Pierre-Francois Martin. The Goyard brand history predates even the name Goyard, as the original company was named “House of Martin.” Specializing in crafting luxury trunks, boxes, and luggage, Martin enjoyed success and close ties with French nobility. As his business grew, he moved his headquarters from 4 rue de Neuve des Capucines (coincidentally the same address Louis Vuitton would move into in 1854) to 347 rue Saint-Honoré. This location was later renumbered to 233 rue Saint-Honoré and has remained the Goyard flagship store to this day.
The House of Martin attracted the finest trunk-making artisans for generations. Francois Goyard began an apprenticeship with the atelier in 1845 and received extensive training from Martin and Louis-Henri Morel, who was the head of the company at the time. When Morel passed away in 1852, Goyard succeeded him and renamed the company “House of Goyard.” He exerted maximum control over every manufacturing process to ensure only the finest work would bear the Goyard name. This dedication to extraordinary quality became a hallmark of Goyard history and continues to this day.
Francois Goyard built his company into the premier malletier to the French aristocracy over his 32 years of stewardship. His son, Edmond Goyard, took the company international, gaining a worldwide reputation for exacting standards and superb craftsmanship.
Goyard History and Goyardine
On April 1, 1885, Edmond Goyard took the reins of the family company, rechristening it E. Goyard Aîné (meaning E. Goyard the eldest) to honor the timeless values at its core. Edmond Goyard was an innovative business leader who participated in World Expositions while opening three new stores in France and trade offices in New York and London. He developed a new product line designed for owners of that new-fangled contraption, the automobile. He also created a chic line of pet wear named “Chic du Chien” to outfit the dogs and cats of his noble clientele. Edmond made the Goyard name synonymous with elegance and perfection. But his greatest contribution to Goyard history is his development of the brand’s signature canvas, Goyardine.
In 1892, Edmond Goyard introduced his proprietary coated canvas to the world. His custom blend of hemp, linen, and cotton was coated with a waterproofing layer. The resulting canvas was extraordinarily durable, lightweight, flexible, and inexpensive. He handpainted the canvas with the iconic pattern of interlocking chevrons produced by tiny colored dots. The dots represent the log drives of his ancestors, while the chevrons form the repeated Y shape for the central letter in the name Goyard. The colorful canvas became a disruptive revolution that electrified the industry. It was the first time a trunk or luggage maker printed their own branding on their products — and the world loved the look. In 1982, the company officially named this canvas Goyardine.
From that day in 1892 to today, Goyard luxury handbags and trunks have been crafted using that iconic Goyardine canvas. High-end Goyard luggage, travel bags, cases, steamer bags, backpacks, totes, Sahand bags, and wallets all feature Goyardine canvas trimmed with coordinating leather. It is an instantly identifiable and highly coveted look. Today, the colorful pattern is no longer handpainted. Instead, it is achieved through painstaking etching and multilayered dyeing. It’s impossible to imagine Goyard without Goyardine. It is integral to the Goyard brand history.
The Goyard Brand Adapts
The history of Goyard speaks to the family’s ability to respond to changing social needs. As travel modes changed, the Goyard customer base used trunks less than they once did. The Goyard brand adapted by entering the luxury handbag market with soft-sided luggage options, weekend suitcases, and garment bags. Goyard totes and luxury handbags incorporate the Goyardine canvas and many trunk-making details that pay homage to the brand’s history.
Goyard Luxury Handbags
The Goyard history and commitment to exceptional quality are evident in every detail of their luxury handbags. Goyard totes like the reversible Goyard Anjou bags and the St. Louis bags are extraordinarily lightweight yet incredibly durable due to the Goyardine canvas and exceptional craftsmanship. The totes fold flat, making them easy to pack. The unstructured carryalls are waterproof, ideal for travel, and can be overstuffed without concern. Both the Anjou and St Louis totes come complete with a matching mini Goyard clutch, perfect for use as a simple wallet or dangling from the leather strap.
Other handbags are essentially miniature Goyard trunks. They feature rigid sides, with every edge and seam softened and reinforced by coordinating leather trim that is secured by tiny trunk nails. Hand-carved wood batons, trunk clasps, leather lining, and metal-reinforced corner brackets complete the unique style. The authentic, utilitarian details common to the trunk bags and Goyard Saigon bags elevate them to functional art.
The Goyard history of unbroken family ownership ended after nearly 150 years when Jean-Michel Signoles purchased the company in 1998. Signoles has continued to honor the traditional Goyard commitment to top-quality production. He has also expanded the color schemes available for the Goyard product line. Intriguingly, Signoles shuns the limelight other luxury brands bask in. The only way people come to covet this elusive brand’s gorgeous product line is by being in the know.
How to Purchase Goyard Bags
Goyard history includes many elite customers devoted to the brand, including the Duke and Duchess of Windsor and Karl Lagerfeld, as well as many current A-list celebrities. However, there are just two ways to join their ranks. Either visit one of the only 35 brick-and-mortar Goyard boutiques worldwide or do business with one of the few trusted Goyard resellers, such as Madison Avenue Couture.