The Louis Vuitton Malle Courrier isn’t just one of the most enduring of the famed French fashion house’s designs—it’s the literal foundation of the entire company. And it’s the story of this trunk that’s at the heart of the first episode of Esquire’s new series, Iconic, which details some of the most recognisable and resilient items in the fashion world.

Back in the middle of the 1800s, before his initials were one half of the name of luxury juggernaut LVMH, Louis Vuitton himself revolutionised the luggage industry with a flat-topped, stackable trunk better suited to the uptick in rail and boat travel than its rounded predecessors. And the biggest innovation? Instead of using leather to protect the wood it was built from, Vuitton’s trunk employed lightweight-but-tough canvas that wasn’t prone to rotting in a baggage hold midway across the Atlantic Ocean.

The Louis Vuitton trunk was such a smash hit that other companies soon began copying the distinctive striped pattern of the original canvas. This led to the creation of the unmistakable Monogram canvas that we all know so well. A combination of the letters "L" and "V" with Japanese-inspired flower motifs, it was like nothing else on the market and an instant status symbol.

These days, though, identifiable imagery doesn’t hold the same value it once did in the fashion world. In fact, modern luxury’s emphasis on logos and signifiers doesn’t quite hit the mark. True luxury is defined by the work that goes in behind the scenes, the craftsmanship and know-how that inform the construction of goods that serve a real purpose and just so happen to elevate our experience of the everyday in the process.

That’s the idea behind Iconic. It’s not about names or brands or flash. It’s about the substance that earns these items their lofty place in the world—and maybe, eventually, your own collection.

Originally published on Esquire US

(SHANGHAI TANG)

For over three decades, SHANGHAI TANG has blended luxury fashion and lifestyle with Asian flair. It's a cute-meet between East and West. Through the combination of millennia-old cultural influences, exquisite craftsmanship, and contemporary art.

Renowned for its collaborations with artists to promote Chinese arts and culture, the brand didn't break new ground with its partnership with Jacky Tsai. But it is a collaboration that works. The multimedia Chinese artist, who is based in London, has an impressive body of work that ranges from traditional canvases to real-time NFT digital pieces, integrating Eastern ideology and cultural symbols with Western Pop art icons and motifs. Themes of his pieces include alternative narratives and realities, constantly reflecting on our own.

Like SHANGHAI TANG, Jacky Tsai unifies the differences and similarities between perceptions. His art is a provocation into viewers' ideas of intercultural relationships and that establishes both tension and harmony between cultural representations.

(SHANGHAI TANG)

This year’s Holiday Collection draws inspiration from Tsai’s iconic butterfly and galloping horse motifs. Each piece is infused with a dynamic and chic pop art vibe. With bold colour contrasts and striking patterns, it embodies the lively spirit of Tsai's original artworks. Along with SHANGHAI TANG's signature embroidery, it imbues a refined craftsmanship. You're wearing art as each garment is a canvas of creativity. The collection features limited edition pieces with exclusive designs that captures three decades of a shared artistry and cultural innovation.

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