The House of Goyard began as The House of Martin founded in 1792 by Pierre-Francois Martin, located at 4 Rue Neuve de Capucines in Paris. The House of Martin was ahead of its time specializing in box making, trunk-making and packaging, well before the age of the great trunk makers of the late XIXth century. This foresight was borne out of a necessity to carefully and properly fold and pack the fragile belongings of the aristocrats of the day. An early advertising campaign best described the services of Maison Martin as:
“selling an assortment of boxes and cases; it provides quality packing services for fragile furniture and objects as well as hats, gowns and flowers; it uses oiled canvas, plain canvas,, straw for packaging; manufacturer of horse carriages, trunks, coat racks, it also supplies oil cloth and water proof canvas, all at a fair price”
Pierre-Francois Martin gave The House of Martin as the dowry for the marriage of his ward Pauline to Louis-Henri Morel. It was Morel who hired the first of the House’s current namesake, Francois Goyard, who at 17 years old became his apprentice. Francois took over the helm of the house after Morel’s sudden death in 1852 and led its growth and expansion for the next 32 years. Francois believed that in order to control and maintain the quality of workmanship, that the House of Goyard had come to epitomize, the manufacturing process needed to be strictly managed. One of his first orders of business was to open his own state of the art workshops.
Edmond Goyard, Francois’ son took over the business in 1885. In 1892 Edmond Goyard created the iconic patterned fabric called Goyardine which has become symbolic of the brand to this very day. The story behind the pattern and the fabric is rooted in the history of the Goyard family going back many generations.
The Goyards were traditionally a family of log drivers originating from Clemancy, a village in Burgundy. Log drivers transported logs that would eventually become firewood via inland waterways from the forests of Morvan to Paris. Adult male Goyard family members were members of the Campagnons de Riviere – Companions of the River- a French workman’s guild for log drivers.
The pattern which graces all Goyard pieces is reminiscent of logs piled along a waterway being driven by log drivers to their final destination. The fabric is also taken from the family’s history using the same natural coated cloth made by mixing hemp, linen and cotton that the Campagnons de Riviere used to make their garments.
Little has changed in the manufacture of Goyardine, still a closely guarded secret process. What is known is that the process produces a waterproof fabric both durable and soft. The production of Goyardine ceased after WWII but resumed after Jean-Michel Signole a longtime connossiuer and collector took over the house in 1998. Signole has carried on the traditions of this venerable house through to today. The Paris boutique opened in 1834 at 347 Rue St Honore (now 233 Rue St Honore due to a Postal address change in 1856) has kept the look of old world charm and elegance which remains quintessentially Goyard.