If you’re a handbag connoisseur, you’ll likely know what Epi leather is. And if you see your hand luggage as an investment, there’s a chance you might have Epi leather somewhere in your wardrobe.
Epi leather is a textured leather created and made famous by Louis Vuitton. This luxury brand first adored its luggage range with this leather back in the 1920s. The mid-1980s saw a resurgence of excitement around this unique material. Since then, the innovative French fashion house has manufactured products in various styles and colors using Epi leather.
The Louis Vuitton brand is synonymous with sophistication and style. And their products are considered to be assets as well as fashion statements. Louis Vuitton handbags are some of the most coveted in the world. And the famous “LV” monogram can now be seen on everything from wallets to Nike sneakers.
Louis Vuitton and the Birth of Epi Leather
And to think the company, founded by Louis Vuitton in 1854, began as a luggage brand selling large trunks. Before then, trunks used by those traveling by ship had rounded tops. On the other hand, Vuitton’s trunk was flat on top, making it stackable and easy to store. And it was tightly sealed to prevent water from getting into the trunk.
After Louis Vuitton’s death in 1892, his son George to the reigns and was on a mission to expand internationally. He soon opened stores in Paris, New York, London, Buenos Aires, and more. He’s also responsible for patenting the “LV” monogram, which was used to discourage others from copying their designs.
The company started to use leather for many of its products at about this time. And in 1926, their unmistakable, signature Epi leather finish was first used to make a tea case. This was a custom piece used to carry equipment for making tea while traveling. And it was made for Maharaja Sayajirao Gaekwad III, who, at the time, was the king of Vadodara, India.
What is Epi Leather, and Why Was it Created?
In the 1920s, George Vuitton and his son worked together to improve their product line. They had introduced leather as one of their preferred materials due to its durability. And had the idea of creating a unique print on more robust material.
The result was a highly durable, thick leather material stamped with a unique and sleek ripple-like effect. The elegant wavey lines created by the stamp give Epi leather a fantastic texture and two-tone look. Today, Epi leather is used to make a host of Louis Vuitton products in various vibrant colors.
One constant on any Louis Vuitton product is the “LV” monogram. And, when it comes to their innovative Epi leather, the monogram is usually tastefully stamped somewhere on the product’s surface.
Products commonly made with Epi leather include handbags, messenger bags, backpacks, and wallets. You’ll also find belts, sneakers, shoes, clutches, and purses made with Epi leather.
How is Epi Leather Made?
Epi leather is made using a calf hide base which is then tanned with plant extracts derived from bark and juice. And the leather is then deep-dyed. This tanning and dying process strengthens the leather and gives it more structure, ready to become a handbag or wallet.
Once tanned and dyed, specialized paint is used to coat the surface of the leather. This serves as a protective layer and is part of the coloration process. The next step in the Epi leather production process is the stamping of the leather. This stamp creates an incredible ripple effect, which gives the material its dynamic, three-dimensional appeal.
After that, a darker coat of paint is applied to the rippled surface. This aids in creating the two-tone look and gives it depth. Last, as an additional measure of protection, a clear coating is applied over the surface. This layer protects the material against scratches and water penetration.
Today’s version of Epi leather is a little different from the original. The company has made some improvements since the invention of the classic “Louis Vuitton Epi”. Now, the stamped lines that create the texture are more profound and significant. And the interlacing done is more prominent than it was before.
The surface of the leather is also slightly shinier than it was before. These changes give Louis Vuitton a bolder design that’s easier to maintain. And this new version of the material has been dubbed “Epi Electric Leather”.
Epi Leather Care
Due to the strength and durability of Epi leather, products made with it can be used daily without too much maintenance. However, given Louis Vuitton products’ value and investment potential, it’s in your best interests to exercise some form of upkeep.
Cleaning your item regularly is a good idea. Partly because the designer ripple finish offers the perfect opportunity for dust to collect. Wiping your product down with a damp cloth after each use will help.
However, you could invest in a gentle, alcohol-free glycerin-based cleaner for a slightly deeper clean every now and then. It’s best to apply the cleaner with a damp cloth and then wipe it off with a different damp cloth.
Be careful not to apply too much pressure when rubbing the item with the cloth. And try not to spend too much time rubbing in one specific area. Instead, get the cleaner on quickly and evening over the product, and the while it off shortly after.
Like its creator, Epi leather has stood the test of time and is more popular today than ever before. It’s one of the most sought-after finishes in the Louis Vuitton range. This is because it looks stylish, elegant, and sophisticated. But, at the same time, this textured finish is fresh, trendy, and can make any outfit pop.
As a result, Epi leather appeals to fashionistas young and old. And it’s a fashion statement that won’t be going out of style anytime soon.