The history of Goyard bags

Goyard bags

François Goyard was born in Burgundy in 1828 into a family that specialised in the transport of timber by floating it down rivers between the Morvan and Paris. In 1832, his father decided to close his business and move to Paris with his family. In 1845, the 17 year old François Goyard was taken on as an apprentice at Morel, who became the official box maker to the Duchess de Berry after purchasing the Maison Martin.

There, the young François Goyard received thorough training as a box maker, trunk maker and packer, a profession that made luggage and containers to transport clothing and other effects and also took care of the folding and packing of said items inside the boxes and trunks. François was a gifted craftsman and so Monsieur Morel made him his successor before his sudden death in 1853. Maison Morel, located at 233 Rue Saint Honoré, then became Maison Goyard Aîné.

In 1853, François Goyard married Léopoldine Delaporte, a dressmaker who gave him a son, Edmond, in 1860, and then another, Maurice. When he was 25, Edmond Goyard took over from his father and managed to increase the standing of Maison E. Goyard Aîné with his creativity, business sense and ambition and to bring it to international attention. Under his management, Maison E. Goyard Aîné perfected its signature waterproof canvas with the chevron pattern, known as Goyardine.

It also became increasingly inventive, designing one-off boxes, such as a portable writing desk for the writer Conan Doyle, boxes for the transport of pets and boxes made to fit on the roofs of certain makes of cars. The business also diversified into luxury accessories for pets and exotic creatures, such as bootees, glasses, harnesses, etc.

At this time Maison E. Goyard Aîné took part in many universal exhibitions and won prizes and medals. It launched its first advertising campaign and opened three shops in France, one in Monaco and two in-store destinations in the American shops of John Wanamaker. The company’s clients at the time included the most illustrious people, such as members of the English court, the US presidency, the Russian emperor, stars and actors, such as Sarah Bernhardt and Sacha Guitry who could have their purchases marked with their family name and colours.

When Robert Goyard was 30 in 1923, he became director of Maison E. Goyard Aîné along with his father who was still in charge of the design side. In 1936, Robert Goyard joined a group of luxury shops in Place Vendôme, including Boucheron, Cartier, Chaumet, Ritz, Paquin, Charvet, Guerlain, Morgan and his own at 233 Rue Saint Honoré. His father died in the following year and he remained at the head of the family business until 1979. His son, François Edmond Goyard, assisted him but wartime restrictions forced Maison E. Goyard Aîné to close for the duration.

The business became a limited company in 1951 and François Edmond Goyard and his daughter Isabelle actively contributed to its growth. However, this change of status did not prevent Maison Goyard from remaining true to its policy of always being at the cutting edge of technology, working with industrial partners and in a range of cooperative relationships. For example, it collaborated with Air France in a one-off project to create a new range of ultra-light luggage.

The company now belongs to the Signoles family, who are collectors and fans of Goyard trunks. They took over the company but remain true to its ancestral savoir-faire and traditional, 100% French craftsmanship (using only French materials and manufacturing in workshops in Carcassonne). With its made-to-measure trunks that are both surprising and ingenious, such as those designed to transport the chef Alain Ducasse’s kitchen utensils, Maison Goyard has maintained its taste for innovation. The company remains discreet by choice but has many celebrity customers and admirers, including Karl Lagerfeld.

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