The wondrous transformation of Longchamp

When traditional brands have created a certain standing, it’s hard to transform an image. LONGCHAMP has done the unthinkable.

When you think of LONGCHAMP, the Pliage bag will probably come to mind. It’s the perfect all-rounder: Available in all sizes, made from indestructible synthetics, decorated with leather handles in classic brown. The problem: Pretty much everyone has one… and that’s not a good thing in the case of the Pliage. It’s pretty much an everyday item for rich kids around the world. And we’re not talking CHANEL-rich. We’re talking daughters of lawyers and bankers with pearl earrings and the obligatory Ralph Lauren sweater. Not exactly what you’d call a fashion crowd.

Shayne Oliver’s first capsule collection for LONGCHAMP was released last spring and sold out instantly.

But fast forward to 2018 and you’ll see a completely different LONGCHAMP. One, that suddenly takes Avant Garde designers like Shayne Oliver aboard, who has recently taken over the almost forgotten HELMUT LANG brand as creative director. Suddenly the Pliage was transformed into an avant-garde piece with a streetwear touch. You could say that Shayne Oliver might have overdone it, when he designed rain jackets with Pliage-handle applications on the sleeve, but isn’t that, what creative design is all about? And doesn’t this kind of self-mockery do wonders to an old, conservative image?

But one collection alone cannot change an image, you will say. That is correct. Getting Kendall Jenner aboard as new testimonial is a marketing strategy, that will most certainly work and attract millennials as new customers. In the new campaign, Jenner is seen posing on a rooftop overlooking Montmartre with a horse, LONGCHAMPS mascot, looking super-natural and down-to-earth. This kind of imagery will not upset old customers, yet open doors to a brand-new target group.

Kendall Jenner posing with a live Longchamp-emblem for the FW18 campaign.

What people have long overseen are LONGCHAMP’s pret-a-porter-collections. Talk about high-quality manufacturing and classy design, instead of the Pliage! Clothing hasn’t been what LONGCHAMP was famous for, but it is worth a closer look. From next season on, LONGCHAMP will show at New York Fashion Week. It might seem weird for a Parisian brand to premiere in New York. But it’s actually a great move, as Paris is so full of big designer brands, that you cannot avoid to be overwhelmed with the choices. New York has desperately tried to regain its status as a fashion metropole, and LONGCHAMP might be a brand that will attract more focus on the Big Apple again.

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FAB L’Style is an international Fashion & Lifestyle magazine with a focus on emerging markets.