Leather Series 101 #1: Louis Vuitton Epi Leather


It has been 11 years (well, almost) since the birth of the blog, and doing a special Leather Series 101 only seems appropriate by going in-depth into the world of luxury brands and their signature leather(s). Each post will delve into the history of an iconic leather, with the who, what, when, why and where summarised specially for you. Without further ado, let’s start with one everyone should already be familiar with, Louis Vuitton’s famed Epi leather.

WHO Epi (pronounced ee-pay) has its roots dating back to 1920 and was created by Georges Vuitton and his son, Gaston-Louis. First seen on trunks from way back when, the leather gradually became known to be a house classic and established itself as the label’s very first permanent leather offering (and line of bags) back in the 1980s.

WHAT The pattern of Epi’s leather grain is said to take inspiration from fields of wheat, with the eye-catching grain reminiscent of the wavy lines of an ear of wheat. Its slightly two-tone grained pattern is formed by using a special process which involves printing the pattern on an intensely dyed leather, after which a second layer of colour is applied on top. This technique allows a myriad of colours to be formed, each creating a textural two-colour pattern (as a result of the two-tone pigmentation) which gives the leather extra depth and character.

WHEN Formally reintroduced in 1985, Epi had at least 11 hues back then, including Bleu Toledo, Fauve Kenyan, Moka and Vert Borneo, just to name a few. Probably picked to suit the fashion palettes of the 80s, those gave way to brights like Lilac, Mandarin and Vanilla. Over time, the leather was given further updates, such as a unique patent finish called Electric that gave an extra gorgeous shimmery shine, as well as the Epi Metallic on the Petite Malle that’s made to emulate the zinc covered trunks back in 1868. Most recently in 2016, a new spin-off Epi Denim was launched in a matte blue finish that resembled, you guessed it, denim.

WHY Epi is the crowd pleaser and a fan favourite simply because it’s easy to maintain. It has a particular firmness and resilience due to an added protective coating which also makes it water-resistant and less prone to scratches. By being durable and sturdy, Epi almost always looks new, even if it is 20 years old. Still don’t believe that to be true? Just check out all the vintage Epi bags from the 80s that are being offered by resellers; many of them look as good as new.

WHERE Today, Epi can be seen on a wide variety of bags, SLGs and accessories in enough colours to rival the rainbow. Handbags that look especially great in Epi include the iconic Alma, Noe and Twist, which you can find easily in classic (and seasonal) colours at any Louis Vuitton boutique. Epi is also a classic favourite amongst the men, who have cool, modern options that include backpacks, briefcases, and even the Horizon 55 luggage rendered in the discreet and sturdy leather.

Image: Louis Vuitton

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