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Last Updated September 4, 2017
Goyard is a French trunk and leather goods maker. Established in 1853 in Paris, and previously doing business as Martin (Pierre-François Martin founded the House of Martin in 1792) and then Morel, it is the oldest such organization still in business, older than Louis Vuitton by one year. François Goyard (1828–1890) made box making, packing and trunk making the family’s trade when he purchased Maison Morel, successor to Maison Martin. Edmond Goyard (1860–1937) expanded his business from 1885 to 1937. Robert Goyard (1893–1979) was the face of the brand during the booming post-war years. François Goyard played a significant role in further increasing the firm’s growth with his daughter Isabelle Goyard (1959-). Jean-Michel Signoles bought Goyard in 1998, and turned the privately-owned company into an internationally renowned brand.
Manufacturing of the Goyard canvas: the Goyardine
This coated cloth was already around for the World Exposition in 1900, and was used in the inter-war years. It remains unchanged up to the present time, in its chevron pattern. In 2002, exactly 110 years after its creation, the Signoles family inaugurated their tenure at the helm of Goyard with the introduction of twelve new colours on top of the historic black canvas. The Goyardine canvas is now available in red, green, sky-blue, navy-blue, yellow, white.
A natural fibre canvas
Right from the start, Goyardine was made with cloth, although its appearance is very similar to leather. Goyard uses three plant fibres: hemp, linen and cotton. Hemp is particularly sought after for its hydrophobic qualities, linen is a fine thermal regulator, and the softness of linen probably caught the attention of the trunk maker.
The manufacturing process
The initial meters of Goyardine were most likely hand-painted. When the Goyardine was launched, the workshops moved to Bezons, and the manufacturing of the canvas required a ground-colour application followed by three successive layers of etching colours. The trademark slightly raised pattern of the Goyardine results from both the cloth and the printing technique used during the manufacturing process: the plain weave shows through the Chevron pattern, and superimposes on top of the raised pattern produced by the paint dots. The overall effect is absolutely unique, and near impossible to counterfeit.
Symbolic meaning of the Goyard Chevron pattern
The dots on the fabric supposedly represent three chevrons juxtaposed to form a Y, the central letter in the Goyard family name. Edmond Goyard used the three chevrons of the letter Y to sign his canvas just like a painter would sign his painting: his name written in white is the only element that truly stands out, whilst the address of the Paris store is spelled in two different shades of brown, and "Paris" is repeated twice, and arranged in a centrally symmetrical stack. Edmond Goyard was the very first trunk maker to build his name into his canvas, and did so even before the year 1900. The piled up dot pattern was clearly inspired by the Goyard family history, and evokes their "Compagnon de rivière"(log drivers) ancestors.
Goyard woven canvases
If Edmond Goyard left his mark on the history of the brand by creating the Goyardine, his son Robert also created a new fabric: a four-shade-woven canvas. This canvas is used in bags designed for frequent air travel. Robert Goyard patented his new canvas on 24 November 1965, and described its design as "Chevrons intertwined with linear stripes." This new canvas not only allows for a more modern look: for it is a woven canvas, it is also much softer than the historic Goyard canvas, thus making it possible to manufacture new products. In order to improve the solidity of the weaving, Robert Goyard altered the pattern in 1968, and came up with a totally updated version that is easily recognizable from the previous one, as it is much more even.
New Goyard woven canvases
In 2010, Goyard marketed for the very first time a canvas woven on a jacquard loom. This jacquard canvas constitutes a major technical feat, as it builds "E.Goyard" into the lighter-shaded thread of the canvas, a previously unheard-of achievement in the textile industry. The new canvas is currently available in a black-charcoal grey-dove grey-white colour palette, and will shortly be available in other shades.
The Lenglen canvas
This extremely rare canvas was developed in collaboration with Suzanne Lenglen in the 1930s; its production stopped when the tennis player died in 1938. Goyard reprinted this canvas, which is now available again for special orders only, as quantities produced are limited.
Nowadays, special orders are to be placed at the store at 233, rue Saint-Honoré, as it was the case when the factory was located in Bezons. Special orders are entirely hand-made in the Goyard workshops in southern France, in the Aude department. The workshops are installed in converted wine warehouses. Whilst some trunk makers specialize in standardized goods, Goyard is equally at ease with both special orders and ready-made items. Among the many extravagant special orders that Goyard was able to deliver over the course of its history, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s "Writer’s trunk" certainly stands out. In the report he wrote for the International Exposition of Modern Industrial and Decorative Arts in 1925, Paul Léon lists its main characteristics: "The trunk is equipped with a filing cabinet, a bookcase, a typewriter and a foldable desk." The descriptive text that goes with its patent spares no detail either: "All kinds of kits and sets can be placed in the pigeonhole located in the trunk lid, along with photograph frames, a watch, a thermometer and a barometer". After the death of the creator of Sherlock Holmes on 7 July 1930, Edmond Goyard registered a patent for the trunk on 20 July 1931, and seldom remanufactured this exceptional piece.
Each order is the result of a special encounter: that taking place between the trunk maker and the customer. When it comes to special orders, everything is possible: a trunk especially designed to carry and store caviar, or to meet the needs of a sportsperson, a fabulous picnic trunk.
Each piece of hard-sided luggage by Goyard is entirely hand made by a specific trunk maker, according to the highest, strictest standards. When the crafting process is over, the trunk maker writes down the serial number of the piece they made on its identification tag, along with their initials. They also write down that same serial number in the manufacturing register that has been keeping track of all items made by the Goyard workshops ever since Jean-Michel Signoles took over. The manufacturing register is used as a reference in the event an item needs to be repaired. About twenty trunk makers work in the Goyard workshops and specialize in made-to-order trunks and hard-sided luggage.
Luggage monogramming and crowns
When several members of a same family travel together, their luggage stripes are identical, and it is difficult to tell which piece of luggage belongs to whom. In France, tradition dictates that each piece should be monogrammed with the initials of its owner, whereas in the UK, it is customary to use the owner’s full first and last names, whether they are a royal or a commoner. Initials have been used for a long time, as evidenced by the wooden trunk the compagnons de rivière used to carry along with them on their timber raft. It was the only valuable object on board, and it was used to protect food and personal belongings from the waters of the river. Over the course of time, it became a token of remembrance, reminding its owner of the many travels he made. It was monogrammed with its owner’s initials and also stamped with the employers’ logo. François Goyard’s grandfather was a compagnon de rivière, and he owned a monogrammed trunk long before the family went into the trunk making business. Luggage monogramming became necessary to differentiate luggage, which tend to be very similar-looking, not to mention that there are often too many of them. Stripes perpetuate old traditions, notably those related to horse carriages, which were painted in the colours of each family.
Goyard’s monograms are hand-painted onto the Goyardine canvas. The revival of customized leather goods, whether they are adorned with initials, stripes or coats of arms, proved Goyard’s answer to the logo craze.
Goyard crowns and fonts
Apart from the main boutique in Paris, Goyard also has freestanding monobrand stores in: New York City (20 East 63rd Street at Madison Avenue), London (116 Mount Street), San Francisco (345 Powell Street), Biarritz (4, Avenue de l’Impératrice) and Mexico City (420 Avenida Presidente Masaryk).
Its retail spaces in luxury department stores include:
Tokyo at Isetan Shinjuku, Takashimaya in Nihombashi and Hankyu Men’s Tokyo; Takashimaya in Kyoto, and Osaka at Umeda Hankyu
Seoul at Galleria Department Store
New York at Barneys New York and Bergdorf Goodman; in Boston, Chicago and Beverly Hills at Neiman Marcus
Shanghai at Yifeng Galleria, and China World Mall in Beijing
Hong Kong at Peninsula Hotel and Pacific Place
Taipei at Regent Taipei Hotel
São Paulo at JK Iguatemi Shopping Mall
Singapore at Takashimaya
In 2008, Goyard opened a boutique called "Le Chic du Chien" (Canine Chic) entirely dedicated to pet accessories and excursion items at 352, rue Saint-Honoré, right across the street from its historic store at 233, rue Saint-Honoré. Edmond Goyard was very keen on developing a range of pet accessories, as evidenced by catalogues and invoices dating from as far back as 1890. The Goyard range for pets comprised items for dogs, cats and even monkeys. Edmond Goyard hired the most sought-after illustrators of his time, such as the likes of Benjamin Rabier and Pierre Falize, the latter being also the creator of famous posters for iconic Parisian Restaurant Prunier, to work on the Chic du Chien commercial catalogues.
Here are some examples showing the images we would need to complete your Goyard Authentication.
*images below are examples and are not required or found on all styles of Goyard
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