Louis Vuitton Supply Chain and Brand Identity

LVHM has a distribution center in France, where it sends products to regional distribution centers, such as in Japan, Asia, and the U.S. LVHM also has retail stores all over the world. This international supply chain system is similar to Sushi: The Global Catch (2012), directed by Mark Hall, which Theodore C. Bestor (2000) further describes in “How Sushi Went Global.” Clearly, the modern-day multinational company no longer relies on local workers and local natural resources to create, deliver, and sell its products, but on an extensive, interconnected worldwide sourcing, production, distribution, and marketing systems.
As for labor practices, it cannot be easily verified if the company has fair labor practices, although, in France and other developed nations, LVHM is inferred to have fair labor practices. Because LVHM uses traditional methods in making its products as part of its prestige, it has skilled workers who perform several tasks. These workers in these developed nations are considered highly-skilled and well-paid because they are making handmade bags for a luxury firm like LVHM. In addition, I read before that the company only made some changes in its production system in 2005, in alignment with its new kaizen philosophy, which means constant improvement. An example of a change in the production floor is when one person did the gluing and stitching instead of two to three people. The increase in production efficiency from kaizen reduced the workforce demand of the company, which raised concerns about job security for some employees. Those who feel this may think that there is a form of injustice because they cannot have the same job security they used to have in the past. I think that these production changes that have labor effects can be connected to the experiences of Malay factory workers in Aihwa Ong’s “Japanese Factories, Malay Workers: Class and Sexual Metaphors in West Malaysia.” Ong (1990: 400) talks about the “structure of the industrial system” that “rigidly defines and institutionalizes” gender inequity at the workplace. Though I cannot confirm if the same gender inequality exists in LVHM’s factories, I can say that its workers are feeling the threat of new production systems that can render many of them dispensable. Even if they are highly skilled in making bags and accessories, there could be a time in the future when the company chooses to outsource more of the production tasks to countries with lower wages and operational costs.
The consumers of this product are the upper class. It is marketed through international marketing campaigns that focus on popular celebrities and designers. Some of its celebrity models are Jennifer Lopez and Uma Thurman. In addition, the company sells handmade products that are seen as durable and stylish. The prices of its ladies’ bags range from $1,200 to $3,250. I think customers buy LV because of its brand identity that is related to the perception of its uniqueness and classiness, due to its traditional method of production. This can be compared to why the Japanese love tuna. Bestor (2000) believes that this preference for tuna has a psychological component because tuna is hard to catch. It can take a fisher four to five hours to catch it, sometimes even more (Bestor 2000: 63). Bestor (2000: 63) says: “…the meaning of tuna- the equation of tuna with Japanese identity- is simple: Tunas is nothing less than the samurai fish!” Buyers may feel the same kinship for LV. For them, to have an LV bag is to embody the elegance and sophistication of the French. To own an LV is to have class and power too.