Longchamp CEO Jean Cassegrain Talks Business Success and Virality of Le Pliage Bag
Fashion

In Higher Demand: Longchamp CEO Jean Cassegrain on Sustaining Success Amidst an Evolving Fashion Industry 

@longchamp / Instagram

The French luxury house Longchamp had a stellar past year. With a rise in global searches of one of its most recognizable pieces, the Le Pliage, entering wishlists and wardrobe hauls all over the internet, CEO Jean Cassegrain shares his reaction to the brand’s consistent growth and what he thinks makes a cult-classic bag.

Amidst a rapidly changing fashion industry, Longchamp remains proactive in its dedication to quality craftsmanship, staying true to its roots while embracing innovation and sustainability to meet the evolving demands and expectations of consumers worldwide. 

In 2023, Longchamp experienced a rapid surge in demand, boasting a remarkable 40% increase in global searches. This, however, does not prompt complacency from the brand’s CEO and president Jean Cassegrain. Instead, he views it as an impetus to strive for even greater achievements.

“I’m happy, but I’m also worried about the following year,” Cassegrain says, reflecting on the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on many businesses, including Longchamp. “I will continue to do better.” 

Longchamp began and remains a family business. After Jean Cassegrain (the current CEO’s grandfather) took over his father’s tobacco business in 1945, the brand then transitioned into leather goods by 1948 due to the demand for leather pipe coverings at the height of the Second World War. As time passed, Longchamp introduced a variety of products including women’s bags and has since become one of the most well-known brands in the world.

Courtesy of Longchamp

Cassegrain, a direct descendant of the brand’s founder, says that his vision for the brand remains constant. Providing an analogy, Cassegrain says: “It’s like seeing your children growing up— you don’t really see them changing. But if you have friends that come home who haven’t been there for a while—suddenly you’re grown-ups. So, since I’m in it every day, I don’t [consciously] notice the changes.” 

In the ever-evolving landscape of fashion, while some brands venture into subversive territories and go against the grain of their original essences, Longchamp distinguishes itself by maintaining its brand identity. Whether by preserving the quality craftsmanship of its classic pieces or by introducing new collections, Longchamp remains true to its core values, ensuring consistency and quality across its product range. 

Cassegrain says, “I think that’s one of the results of our success in the past year—we did a better job at telling the story, making it clear and understandable for the customers.”

Longchamp frequently collaborates with artists and designers to create compelling narratives and experiences. In 2022, Longchamp collaborated with street artist Andre Saraiva, incorporating hand painted playful doodles on the bag with Saraiva’s signature characters. More recently, Longchamp collaborated with Artestar to honor the work of artist Robert Indiana, which showcased his “LOVE” artwork in various Longchamp designs. Longchamp also uses various platforms such as YouTube and Spotify to create content and curate experiences for their consumers. These partnerships not only introduce Longchamp to new audiences, but also provide fresh perspectives and storytelling opportunities that resonate with customers.

Contributing to the recent Longchamp uptick online is the current virality of the Le Pliage among the younger generation: a lightweight, foldable, and versatile bag made with nylon and Russian leather, inspired by the Japanese art of origami. 30 years after its conception, the Le Pliage has since been regarded as one of the most recognizable and worn bags in fashion. 

Cassegrain says of the Le Pliage: “What makes the success of this specific bag is because it’s universal.” Despite being redesigned multiple times, with multiple versions emerging through different seasons, the Le Pliage still retains its original essence and its unique characteristic as a canvas bag that can be folded into a practical compact square.

“Its beauty is its simplicity,” Cassegrain explains. “It’s simple, but really well designed and sharp. It is also a product that is happy, colorful, positive, and reflects the nature of the brand very well because it has a lot of energy and dynamism, but at the same time, it’s a good product.”

Even though it remains steadfast in upholding core values, Longchamp is not resistant to change and innovation. With the ongoing success of the Le Pliage, Longchamp introduced zipped headphone pockets inspired by the crowd favorite bag called the Le Pliage Xtra Pouch, which fits small essentials such as keys and cards. According to Cassegrain, these product innovations are inspired by their customers, and the brand’s commitment to staying fun and exciting.

Cassegrain says that the customers’ appreciation for their products are the driving force for the brand. “If we’re able to bring you a little bit of joy and happiness with a bag that you’re going to cherish and love and be happy to use every day, that’s very key.”

Longchamp’s recent campaign, Longchamp University, presents a collection of pieces and accessories steeped in university codes. As part of this campaign, Longchamp showcases a video featuring South Korean actress Kim Se-jeong, capturing the narrative of Parisian student life. Through this film, Longchamp skillfully captures the essence of youthful exuberance resonating with its younger consumers.

As consumer awareness especially among the younger generation regarding sustainability continues to rise, Longchamp has proactively integrated eco-friendly practices into its brand ethos. Longchamp’s efforts on sustainability include initiatives to reduce their impact on the environment, such as releasing products made out of eco-friendly materials. These include bags made of Econyl, a fabric made out of recycled nylon, and eyewear with frames made of 45% plant-based resin. Their team is committed to discovering new processes and technological innovations to improve their manufacturing processes, aligning with the evolving preferences of environmentally conscious consumers.

Ultimately, Cassegrain emphasizes Longchamp’s goal of creating emotional connections with customers through its products. “Without emotion, there would be no business. We try to be sincere in the way we express ourselves, so that we can [continue to] establish positive and trustful relationships with our consumers,” Cassegrain says. 

By continuously innovating with exciting new collections and staying attuned to evolving customer preferences, Longchamp cultivates enduring relationships with its audience and reaffirms its position as a leading force in luxury fashion.

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