Louis Vuitton is in the midst of negotiating to establish a U.S.-based factory, possibly in the Carolinas or Texas, and has plans to boost production in France and Portugal, Bloomberg reports. CEO Michael Burke spoke with Bloomberg during the Louis Vuitton show at Paris Men’s Fashion Week, but didn’t provide many details, according to the report.
The idea was floated by the brand, owned by luxury conglomerate LVMH, in a meeting with President Donald Trump, who wants to boost manufacturing in the United States, according to the report.
Along with its sibling luxury brands in the LVMH stable, Louis Vuitton is bouncing back somewhat after a tough year, particularly in Europe, where activity was affected last year by the impact of the November 2015 attacks in Paris. As a result, the company said in April that current sales trends can't reasonably be extrapolated for the full year.
LVMH enjoys a highly diversified portfolio of goods, and all segments did well in the the first quarter. In a rare move, the company last year sold the Donna Karan brand to G-III Apparel Group, inking its second sale in 30 years. LVMH bought Donna Karan in 2002 for about $243 million after it had gained popularity working American women. The brand was the first major American designer label for the company, and one of LVMH's biggest moves into the ready-to-wear industry.
U.S. domestic manufacture of apparel and accessories has dropped significantly in recent decades, moving overseas in pursuit of low wages and benefits, and decimating areas, particularly in the U.S. South, which for the better part of the 20th century supported strong textile operations. Even American Apparel last year, once a stalwart Made-in-the-USA brand, now produces most of its goods overseas after its sale in bankruptcy to Canadian T-shirt maker Gildan earlier this year.
Criticism over working conditions in the garment industry in Asia and a domestic push to increase U.S. production have many brands mulling the introduction of at least some production in the U.S. Under Armour in January opened a factory in its hometown of Baltimore to produce the "UAS" line of clothing and American Apparel founder Dov Charney, ousted from the brand in 2014, has established a new company, Los Angeles Apparel, with manufacturing centered in L.A.