picture of the LV Trainer
March 19 2021
Article-reading-time 4 min

LV Trainer Upcycling: the icon becomes eco-responsible

Our Maison recently unveiled our sustainable development roadmap for the years to come, entitled “Our Committed Journey.” One of the pillars of the environmental dimension of this plan is to deploy a circular approach to our creativity in the interests of preserving natural resources. To this end, all our products will comply with an eco-design process by 2025. The most recent example of this commitment is the LV Trainer, a sneaker born of upcycling.

Daniela and Ismaele, respectively production manager and model maker at the Fiesso d’Artico Louis Vuitton Manufacture de Souliers, Italy, openly admits their initial surprise at the plan: “When Mathias and Julien asked us to transform the original sneaker into a new one, we sensed this project was going to be completely disruptive: we were about to take a perfect model apart!”. This “perfect model” was the LV Trainer, the first sneaker designed by Virgil Abloh as the Louis Vuitton Men’s Artistic Director for the Spring-Summer 2019 collection, a sneaker hat has since become iconic. Now, for the Spring-Summer 2021 collection, the flagship footwear is getting a makeover, a revamp driven by the teams’ desire to blaze new trails that are both creative and responsible, to preserve natural resources.

The name of the sneaker says it all: LV Trainer Upcycling. But it’s a sneaker with unprecedented origins: These trainers were crafted using the stock of the very first models introduced two years ago. The circular design and innovative manufacturing behind the project are courtesy of the Paris design and marketing teams and the artisans of the Maison’s Manufacture de Souliers where a shared, eco-responsible upcycling focus has let to optimization of existing materials.

Picture of the LV Trainer
Picture of the LV Trainer
Picture of the LV Trainer
Picture of the LV Trainer

Mathias has been designing the Men’s shoe collections for the Maison since 2016, while Julien has overseen their marketing since 2019. “New ideas and inspirations are what drive us, and when that comes from an existing model, it’s even more exciting. So we had our environmental beliefs, and we also had this dormant stock. Putting the two together might seem logical, but actually doing it was completely new: Before deconstructing the sneaker, we had to deconstruct our way of thinking and working – we upcycled our ideas!” they explain. Covid-imposed lockdowns meant that the dialogue between Paris and Fiesso d’Artico had to happen on Zoom. “We were starting from an existing model, and yet were working from the ground up,” explains Ismaele.  “We didn’t know what or how, but the objective was clear: For the first time ever, we were going to create a new sneaker from an existing model.”  Bit by bit, the prototype, more colorful and lower profile than the original, took shape. Soon thereafter, it was shown to Virgil Abloh, who gave it the thumbs up. In an unusual move, the Artistic Director decided to keep the assembly instructions on the final models (centering, cutting, overlapping stitching). “We were delighted with this unexpected choice: We now had a strong, desirable, and truly cool model in our hands,” enthused Mathias and Julien. And recognizable: LV Upcycling edging, also part of the visual identity for the Maison’s sustainable development efforts, can be seen on the back of each sneaker.

It was a big challenge, we often had to explain the why and how of the project, but we got the results: a new upcycled collection that helped shape a whole new mindset!” exclaims Mathias. Julien wholeheartedly agrees: “Teamwork makes the dream work!