Steve Jobs asked the CEO of Louis Vuitton for advice when designing the retail experience at the very first Apple Store

Apple store
(Image credit: Apple)

When it comes to the retail experience, Apple sits atop the mountain for customer experience alongside luxury fashion brands like Louis Vuitton.

Now, a new report from Fortune gives us an insight into how Steve Jobs consulted with Louis Vuitton’s CEO Bernard Arnault before opening the first-ever Apple Store in McLean, Virginia.

According to the article, Jobs turned to Arnault to help make Apple’s retail experience as similar to a luxury flagship store as possible despite his peers saying it was “completely crazy.”

The first Apple Store opened in 2001, but before then the best Macs and other Apple products were only sold in retailers like Sears. Wanting to control the retail experience, as he felt the customer journey was lacking, Jobs would reach out to Arnault to ask for “advice on opening Apple Stores in the same areas as Louis Vuitton’s prime retail locations.”

Arnault, in a 2016 interview, said, “I must say, I was myself a little doubtful of selling [iPods in shops],” but gave Jobs advice anyway, which evolved into the Apple Store experience we’ve grown to know and love today.

The Apple Stores of today

While the first Apple Retail experience in 2001 would’ve been incredibly different to what we experience today, the groundwork and ethos have passed on through the decades. The excitement that customers share when queuing for the new iPhone or even the Apple Vision Pro is something that was meticulously thought out over twenty years ago.

Everything from the way you’re greeted when entering the store to the angle of the products on the table went through rigorous studies to make sure the customer had the best experience possible.

The parallels between Jobs' vision for an Apple Store and the most luxurious shops on the planet, like Louis Vuitton or Hermès, are what make shopping at Apple so enthralling. With the new M3 MacBook Air now available, it may just be an excuse to go and check out that retail experience again for yourself.

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John-Anthony Disotto
How To Editor

John-Anthony Disotto is the How To Editor of iMore, ensuring you can get the most from your Apple products and helping fix things when your technology isn’t behaving itself.

Living in Scotland, where he worked for Apple as a technician focused on iOS and iPhone repairs at the Genius Bar, John-Anthony has used the Apple ecosystem for over a decade and prides himself in his ability to complete his Apple Watch activity rings.

John-Anthony has previously worked in editorial for collectable TCG websites and graduated from The University of Strathclyde where he won the Scottish Student Journalism Award for Website of the Year as Editor-in-Chief of his university paper. He is also an avid film geek, having previously written film reviews and received the Edinburgh International Film Festival Student Critics award in 2019. 

John-Anthony also loves to tinker with other non-Apple technology and enjoys playing around with game emulation and Linux on his Steam Deck.

In his spare time, John-Anthony can be found watching any sport under the sun from football to darts, taking the term “Lego house” far too literally as he runs out of space to display any more plastic bricks, or chilling on the couch with his French Bulldog, Kermit.