Epi leather has been Louis Vuitton’s most popular leather for over a century.
Inspired by a grained leather that Louis Vuitton first used in trunks in the 1920’s, Epi leather was introduced in 1985 as the first leather in their collection. Amongst LV fans, Epi leather is probably the most identifiable Louis Vuitton material after Monogram and Damier canvases, though it flies under the radar with many handbag lovers. Despite its rigidity, Epi bags actually have a nice, natural stretch which, combined with their structured quality, make for an interesting feel and silhouette. Each Epi leather piece is stamped with a discreet LV logo on the bottom right corner.
The leather is dyed, then printed with Epi’s three-dimensional wave pattern and then painted with a color-matching top coating. You’ll see that Epi leather has a horizontal grain; if you look closely you can see the subtle tonal differences between the rises and grooves of the leather. This special process ensures that colors are vibrant and bright, and makes the leather very resistant to water and wear. There’s a reason Epi bags are so popular on the resale market: they require very little care and can look new for years.
“…modern elegance and timeless luxury. Durable Epi leather is ideal for daily use while still being effortlessly stylish.”
— Louis Vuitton
Epi Leather History
The idea of Epi leather was first born in 1920 when Georges Vuitton and his son Gaston-Louis had the idea to print a design on more resistant fabric. Sophisticated, robust, and scratch-resistant, Epi leather is a grained leather printed in two batches that allows for a difference in color between the deeper layer and the surface layer. Its texture is made to look like moving fields of wheat under the sun.
Epi leather was used for the first time in 1926. With a love for fulfilling special orders and a taste for the custom-made, Louis Vuitton the Maharaja de Baroda tea case. Ever since, the leather has been consistently used for its beauty and its capacity to absorb the most vibrant colors.
Today, Louis Vuitton’s philosophy of creation is still the same: “Concentration is complicit with the precision of a gesture; finely cutting out, browning a select piece, using a thread coated with beeswax so that it retracts a bit. A combat of a few millimeters can sometimes change everything. In the shadow of sewing machines, the fingers get prepared, they talk, they mark their advancement with an awl made to pierce each point diagonally From needle to thread, the memory is passed down in the light of experience and secrets.”
In 1985, Epi leather was introduced as its own line. Ever since, Epi leather has appeared on a number of iconic bags from the Speedy to the Neverfull in a wide range of bright colors.
How Epi Leather Wears
Scuffing: Though Epi leather is largely scratch resistant, it can still show normal wear and tear if you come in contact with something sharp.
Rubbing: The part that sticks up might flatten or fade over time and heavy use, especially in vintage pieces, which gives it a smoother look.
Fading: Vintage Epi leather has a tendency to lose some of its color over time. Vintage Epi leather, circa 2000-2008 period, may fade or lose some of its bright dye.
Dust: Ridges and crevices can attract dust, which can be easily cleaned.
How To Care For Epi Leather
Epi leather styles are resilient to water damage and great for everyday use with a matte, textured appearance. If it gets wet, simply wipe it dry. Due to its ridges and texture, dust can get stuck in the little crevices, but it can be easily cleaned. Do not leave your bag exposed to sunlight too long to prevent fading.
To maintain your Epi leather accessories, wipe down the Epi leather with a damp cloth every month or so (with just water). If your bag gets dirty, you might want to use a leather cleaner in addition to water. From our experience cleaning and restoring thousands of LV bags, the safest product for cleaning leather should be glycerin based, like Apple Brand Leather Conditioner. With a damp cloth, apply the cleaner very gently, and don’t spend much time in any one spot. Then wipe clean with a cloth dampened with water.
Epi Leather Color Guide (Updated Summer 2018)
Louis Vuitton Epi Leather Color List
Louis Vuitton Epi Leather Examples
Louis Vuitton Epi Leather Detail
Louis Vuitton Epi Leather Alma Bags
Louis Vuitton Epi Alma Bags
Louis Vuitton Epi Leather Marly MM and Marly BB Bags (Dune and Pistache)
Louis Vuitton Epi Leather Petite Malle Bag
Louis Vuitton Epi leather is an excellent choice if you’re looking for a durable, off-the-radar leather. Only true Louis Vuitton fans will be able to recognize this beautiful, textured leather. If you’re ready to invest in a bag that will last you decades, look no further than the Louis Vuitton Epi Leather collection.