|Products||Leather handbags, small leather goods, shoes, clothes|
|Revenue||566 million euros (2015)|
Jean Cassegrain produced the world's first luxury leather-covered pipes, then expanded into small leather goods, such as wallets, passport covers, etc.. Longchamp launched its first women handbag in 1971 and became one of France's leading leather goods makers.
The company's real breakthrough came with the use of nylon. In the 1970s, Longchamp created a leather and nylon fabric luggage collection. For the first time, luggage were light, contrary to the overweight suitcases usually sold at that time. This innovation led the company to design a women's handbag known throughout the world: Le Pliage, a few decades later.
The company's products include its innovative "Le Pliage" women's foldable handbag. The handbag was an instant hit and continues to be the company's best selling product. Le Pliage's signature design, which originated in nylon, has been re-envisioned and re-invented in countless shapes, patterns, colors and fabrics.
The company today designs and manufactures a wide range of luxury goods including leather and canvas handbags, luggage, shoes, travel items, fashion accessories, and a line of "ready-to-wear" women's designer clothing.
The company does business in 80 countries through around 1,500 retail outlets.
The house is still privately owned and managed by the Cassegrain founding family.
- 1 History
- 2 Directors
- 3 Creation and artistic collaborations
- 4 Workshops
- 5 Boutiques
- 6 See also
- 7 References
1948: foundation of Longchamp
After the Second World War, Jean Cassegrain catered to Allied troops with his tobacco and smoking accessories. Pipe sales were the most profitable part of his business. Little by little, soldiers became the store’s best customers.
When they left Paris at the end of the conflict, Jean Cassegrain diversified. In the 1950s, he introduced the world's first luxury leather-covered pipes which featured exotic leathers. International celebrities such as Elvis Presley loved them.
Jean Cassegrain created his company, called 'Jean Cassegrain et compagnie', to broaden the distribution of his leather-covered items for smokers. However, the products were marketed under another name. Since distant relatives had already used his family name Cassegrain to sell fine paper in Paris, he named his brand after the Parisian Longchamp Racecourse.
At that time, there was a flour mill visible on the outskirts of Paris, at the end of the Longchamp Racecourse’s final furlong. Jean Cassegrain named his brand et renamed his company after the racecourse as a nod to the flour mill, as the name ‘Cassegrain’ literally means ‘crush grain’ (miller) in French. Hence a jockey on a galloping race horse was chosen as logo.
1950s: from leather-covered pipes to leather goods
Longchamp's success with leather-covered pipes convinced Cassegrain that the firm’s future lay in diversifying and expanding its product line to small leather goods, passport covers, wallets, bags and other leather accessories for men.
Jean and his son Philippe Cassegrain were interested in expanding the company's markets and opportunities. Longchamp opened boutiques in Southeast Asia towards the end of the 1970s and was one of the first European brands to be sold in Singapore, Hong Kong and Japan. Longchamp turned into a worldwide business.
1970s: the first women's handbag
As the business expanded, Jean Cassegrain noticed that women had become interested in handbags. Longchamp launched its first women’s handbag in 1971 by reworking a toiletry case and adding a shoulder strap and two flaps.
The company was the first to make bags out of nylon. Philippe Cassegrain sketched a line of bags in khaki nylon and leather in the 1970s. This collection was an alternative to carrying heavy suitcases and became a wide success. Philippe Cassegrain also invented the Xtra-Bag, a bag that folded down to a quarter of its size and slid into a simple case. The Xtra-bag was the predecessor of the Le Pliage handbag, which was created in 1993.
In 1978, Longchamp introduced the LM line, its first women’s handbags collection. The bags were created from printed leather. Items for smokers disappeared from the catalogue the same year.
In 1983, Philippe became Longchamp's CEO. He brought his wife, Michèle, into the company to run the retail side. In 1991, Philippe and Michèle's eldest son, Jean, came to work with his father. Later, their daughter, Sophie, became the company's artistic director.
1993: Le Pliage
1993 was a turning point in Longchamp's history. In 1993, Philippe Cassegrain, Longchamp's CEO, personally designed what would become the company's most famous handbag: Le Pliage, which means ‘folding’ in French. Philippe Cassegrain wanted to create a practical yet stylish fold-up bag. The Le Pliage is a handbag that folds into a distinctive trapezoidal shape, evoking the image of an envelope.
Kate Middleton, Mary Berry, Katie Holmes, Amy Adams and Alexa Chung all carry Le Pliage handbags. Longchamp also collaborates with artists such as Mary Katrantzou, Jeremy Scott and Sarah Morris to reinterpret its collection of Le Pliage totes.
The brand's artistic direction is handled by Sophie Delafontaine, the granddaughter of the brand’s founder, Jean Cassegrain. Sophie Delafontaine is responsible for the image and creation across the collections of bags, leatherwear, business lines...
In addition to Le Pliage bag, the company is known for other handbags such as the Veau Foulonné leather, the LM-print motif, the Gatsby, the Imperial, the Légende, the Cosmos and the Gloucester (co-designed by Kate Moss).
- Philippe Cassegrain, President
- Jean Cassegrain, Chief Executive Officer
- Sophie Delafontaine, Artistic director
- Olivier Cassegrain, Director USA boutiques
Michèle Cassegrain, Director of boutiques, died in November 2016.
Longchamp is valued at $1.5 billion. The company's independence gives the Cassegrain family stability and allows them to think and plan long-term. Longchamp is one of the last remaining family-owned leather goods manufacturers in France.
Creation and artistic collaborations
In the 1950s and 1960s, Longchamp's products appeared in French cinema and particularly in Jean Gabin's films.
The brand's relationship to art continued in the 1970s when they introduced a limited edition series of bags featuring a design by the famous Franco-Russian artist Serge Mendjisky. In 1971, he added leather patchwork to bags. With this invention, Longchamp was one of the first leather goods brands to enter the world of collaborations with famous artists. Since then, they have continued to work with other artists in designing special products and in store installations.
In 2004, Longchamp began its first collaboration with independent designer, Thomas Heatherwick. Heatherwick first designed the best-selling Zip Bag, a handbag constructed of a long zipper. The success of the Zip Bag led to Heatherwick's designing of the Longchamp's New York City flagship store.
In 2009, Jeremy Scott, Charles Anastase and design duo Bless joined forces to celebrate 20 years of the French association ANDAM (Association Nationale pour le Développement des Arts de la Mode), which promotes emerging French and international fashion talent. For the occasion, each of the designers created limited edition variations of Longchamp's Le Pliage handbag. "Le Pliage bag is a French icon, no different from the croissant or the Eiffel tower. It is chic, sophisticated and handsome all in one" said Jeremy Scott.
Between 2005 and 2015, Jeremy Scott created 20 styles of bags. Each year, he has taken one of his pop culture-infused designs and used it to give Longchamp’s Le Pliage a new look. His designs over the past 10 years have included a poodle in space, zodiac signs, a credit card and tire tracks. The limited-edition of handbags created for the 10th anniversary of his partnership with Longchamp featured a postcard from Hollywood, signed by the designer "Wish you were here".
Kate Moss has been Longchamp's icon ever since 2005, when she began appearing in Longchamp's advertising campaigns. Several years later, she collaborated with the brand to design handbags. She first suggested adding a red lining to the Legende bag. The top model then worked with Longchamp artistic director Sophie Delafontaine and released bags under the label "Kate Moss for Longchamp".
In 2010, she launched a whole product line, based on her own use of handbags. The Kate Moss collection was made up of 12 different bags inspired by her "city living". The bags were named after her favorite places in London: Soho, Ladbroke, Goldbourne, Gloucester, Glastonbury.
In 2011, Longchamp teamed up with designer Mary Katrantzou to create a range of printed tote bags. They featured her "trompe l’oeil" fabrics. The designer's bags were inspired by temples in Vietnam and flower parades, and featured bold colors and wild designs. In 2012, the designer created two handbags bearing exclusive new prints. The larger tote bag was decorated with orchids, dragons and corals. For the smaller one, the designer used both an Asian temple and New York Carnergie Hall as her starting points, adorning both with colorful flowers and lanterns. Mary Katrantzou also designed a Le Pliage handbag featuring orchids and lanterns.
In 2014, Longchamp partnered with artist Sarah Morris to create a limited edition of Le Pliage handbags.
In April 2016, Longchamp has begun renovations of its historical store on rue Saint-Honoré in Paris. While works take place, the storefront is wrapped in a spectacular work of art "Mindscapes" by American artist, Ryan McGinness.
Initially, Jean Cassegrain purchased items for smokers (particularly pipes) and had them covered with leather by Parisian craftsmen. Faced with the brand’s success, and to support the diversification of the products offered, he opened Longchamp's first workshop in Segré, France, in 1959 .
Longchamp continues to manufacture its products in France. The company has its own workshops and owns the largest leather manufacture in France. Six French factories provide half of the handbags sold by the company, with the other half created by partners.
Longchamp is currently building its new production site in Pouzauges, France. It will move its leather workshops, currently based in Montournais, to this new site. This project is part of the company's plans to develop and modernize its production process. This new site, which measures approximately 7000 square meters, will have space for 100 people (compared to 70 currently) and will include a learning workshop to support the training and the integration of new staff. This new production site should open in 2018.
The company manufactures most of its products, except its ready-to-wear clothing and shoes collections, which it has produced by expert manufacturers located mainly in France and Italy.
In the US
In the US, Longchamp has been distributed through retailers since the 1950s. The company opened its first US store on Madison Avenue in 1984. Saks Fifth Avenue and Nordstrom were the first major American retailers to carry the brand, followed by Bloomingdale’s. In 1993, Longchamp set up its own office in New York City to grow the business.
In 2006, the company opened a flagship store, "La Maison Unique" in New York City's SoHo district. This store was the brand’s biggest store and was designed by Thomas Heatherwick who also created a handbag called the Zip Bag, which became one of the company's best selling items.
In December 2014, the company opened a larger boutique on the Champs-Élysées in Paris. The store has 500 square meters of retail space split into two levels and is now Longchamp's largest store in Europe. This flagship store houses the brand’s entire leatherwear range of accessories for men and women, as well as luggage, women's "ready-to-wear" clothing and shoes. This boutique features a wall of Longchamp's famous Le Pliage handbags and attracts Parisians and tourists from around the world.
Longchamp has been present in China since 2006.
In 2011, Longchamp opened a new flagship store in Hong Kong, "La Maison 8". This boutique is the company’s second largest in the world (after the SoHo location). A year later, Longchamp opened seven additional stores in China including in Beijing and Shanghai, making a total of 50 stores.
The company also operated 22 stores in Southeast Asia in 2014. These shops accounted for 10% of global sales.
A global presence
In 2013, Longchamp invested in logistics to support company growth. The company built a 23,000 m2 logistics center in Segré, France. This facility is double the size of the company's previous facilities.
The company relies on an international distribution network and sells an extensive range of products.
The brand has a presence in 80 countries including in Brazil, Israel, Abu Dhabi, Peru, Chile, Paraguay, Canada, Austria, Macao, Cambodia, Dubai, Kuala Lumpur, Thailand, Philippines, Indonesia... Longchamp plans to expand its network across the Middle-East region with a focus on Saudi Arabia and Qatar. The company has also franchised shops in Mexico, Venezuela and Colombia.
The group directly manages more than 300 boutiques worldwide and counts 1,500 points of sales, including retail stores, company-owned boutiques and franchises, department store concessions, multi-brand fine leather goods dealers, airport shops and online sales, through 20 distribution subsidiaries.
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