Goyard Luggage: The Mystery Behind The Brand April 19 2022

Ever seen a Goyard luggage trunk? They’re absolutely magical inside.

Call me old-fashioned, but there’s just something so interesting and reminiscent about a trunk. Every time I find one at a yard sale, stumble across one at an antique shop, or see one at a friend’s house, I always find myself wondering about its history—where it’s been, who it was made for, what secrets it has held. I love that trunks can have a hidden world inside their seemingly plain exterior, how you can open it up and there can be compartments and hangers, drawers and tie-backs.

Goyard did not always start out as Goayrd, though. Way back in 1792, Pierre-Francois Martin founded the House of Martin, a company specializing in trunk- and box-making. As the company was founded before the demands for trunks and boxes that came with transportation innovations of the nineteenth century, Martin first marketed his company more towards providing packing services of all sort of objects (furniture, hats, china, you name it), as well as garment folding services, oil cloth and waterproof canvas, and horse carriage racks. French aristocracy quickly came to favor the company and its popularity rose. In 1834 the company moved from the Rue Neuve des Capucines to the Rue Saint-Honoré, where it has remained ever since.

Goyard Flagship Store in Paris

Martin was the guardian of a female ward named Pauline—when she married Louis-Henri Morel (one of Martin’s employees—he actually arranged the marriage between the two), he gifted the couple the company as her dowry. In 1845 Morel hired a 17-year-old apprentice from a family of log drivers in Burgundy named Francois Goyard. Goyard trained under the tutelage of both Martin and Morel, and proved to be an able student. When Morel died unexpectedly in 1852, Goyard took over the company—one of the first things he did was to open a state-of-the-art workshop. Goyard remained in control of the company for 32 years before passing the position over to his son Edmond.

Edmond really brought the company to an elite status, branching out to include an international clientele. During Edmond’s time with the company, Goyard was featured in several World Expositions (winning a bronze medal at the Paris Exposition in 1900, a gold medal in the Milan Exposition in 1906, a gold medal at the France-British Exposition of London in 1908, etc., etc.), branches of the popular flagship store were opened, and the trademark Goyardine canvas was developed in 1892. (If you’re unfamiliar with the Goyardine canvas, it’s a geometric pattern of Y-shapes—consisting of a series of small dots and ovals—that form an almost 3D trick of the eye, giving the object a texture like that of wicker.)

Goyardine canvas

Today, the company designs 4 primary lines of product—travel goods, pet accessories, luggage and handbags, and special orders. Personally, the special orders are my favorite part of the entire company—where else can you get a bicycle trunk or a caviar trunk? Nowhere! (Seriously, if you haven’t already, you should Google some of these.) Sir Arthur Conan Doyle had Goyard construct a trunk that turned into a fully-equipped office, and restaurateur Alain Ducasse owns a culinary trunk. Each piece, which can be for anything you can imagine, is made entirely by hand by one craftsman, who adds a serial number and their initials on the piece’s identification tag. That same information is kept for reference in the Goyard workshop and is used as a register any time an item needs repairing. Whatever the need or requirement, Goyard can design a trunk for it—but expect to pay what can be a pretty hefty price for the pleasure of owning one. Although in 2010 a California couple bought what turned out to be a Goyard trunk at a yard sale for $20—once they realized what it was, they sold it at auction for $5,600. Rare vintage examples can be priced upwards of $15,000-$20,000, though.  Own your own piece of Goyard History with our Vintage Goyard Luggage Trunk at Rice and Beans Vintage!

written by Heather Cox for Rice and Beans Vintage