I’ve always associated Longchamp Le Pliage Totes with sorority girls and prepsters of all types, but that may not be exactly accurate anymore. Sure, the brand is beloved by college students nationwide for their simple, lightweight, tan-handled nylon totes, but the French brand seems as though it would very much like to expand its reach beyond pear-studs set. Not only has Longchamp Outlet UK done several high-profile collaborations with bad boy designer Jeremy Scott, but its regular line of bags just got a big dose of modernity.
After looking at the images below for a little while, I’ve decided that it’s really the black handles that set the stage for the more fashionable future of Cheap Longchamp. You wouldn’t think that it would make such a big difference (after all, there are plenty of gorgeous designer handbags made of tan leather), but it totally does. The bags attached to those handles, in rich-toned leathers and textiles, feel a lot more grown up and stylish than their preppy predecessors.
Yesterday, Racked writer Chavie Lieber took a deep dive into the history of a bag most of us have probably had in our closets at one time or another: the Longchamp Le Pliage Tote. If it feels like the simple, functional Le Pliage has been unfalteringly popular with everyone you know for years, you’re right: they’re everywhere, but in a very careful way.
In the 23 years since the bag’s 1993 debut, Lieber reports that Longchamp Outlet has sold more than 32 million of the distinctive nylon totes and duffels that bear the Le Pliage name, averaging out to nearly a million and a half per year. Recent numbers are even more impressive; Longchamp CEO Jean Cassegrain told Women’s Wear Daily in 2008 that the brand’s then-current manufacturing rate put it at more than 2.5 million bags produced per year.
Even if you’re personally tired of the longchamp bags, it’s not hard to identify the broad appeal that keeps customers coming back. The bags are incredibly lightweight and durable, which makes them excellent travel companions and school or work bags. Lieber also reports that Longchamp UK, which is still family-owned, tries to make sure things stay reigned in so as not to obliterate the bags’ appeal: Longchamp still makes most of its products in France and often collaborates with fashion-forward brands and artists to maintain the bag’s fashion cred, and shoppers don’t often see the design discounted. (Longchamp, unlike most sizable contemporary brands, only has two US outlet stores.)
With all that in mind, though, the sales numbers are still staggering. It’s rare for a global pop star to sell more than a million copies of a brand new, $12 album these days, but Longchamp Sale fans just keep coming back from more, year after year, with no slowdown in sight. How many do you have in your closet?
– The French brand has managed to capture the hearts of heads of state and pop stars, all with an inexpensive nylon tote.
The Longchamp Le Pliage tote is nothing if not versatile.
For Kimberly Harvey, a 34-year-old in New York City, it’s an overnight bag for when she visits her parents in New Jersey (“I stuff and go,” she says).
For Sharona Haroonian, a high school senior from Philadelphia, it’s a book bag (“Literally everyone at my school has one”).
For Mel Kim, a Los Angeles-based graphic designer, it’s a gym bag (“The nylon is so sturdy that I don’t care what I throw in”).
For Tina Craig, a co-founder of the blog BagSnob, it’s an extra bag to stuff in her suitcase when she goes on vacation (“I fold it, and then when I shop too much, it just becomes my carry-on”).
For Paul Danton, a 45-year-old HR professional, it’s an emergency birthday gift he bought last-minute for his wife (“She has the small one in a few colors, so I’m pretty sure she’ll like the large one”).
The trapezoidal nylon bag with leather handles and a signature flap comes in all sorts of sizes and colors and has been Longchamp’s bread and butter since it first came onto the market in 1993. Everyone from Kate Middleton to Angela Merkel to Miley Cyrus to Karlie Kloss to your own mom (or aunt or cousin or all of the above) has one. Suzy Menkes has admitted she collects them.
The Le Pliage is not an It bag — it’s far too ubiquitous for that. It’s not hard to get your hands on one, and they sell for just $95 to $145. Ten totes are sold every minute, with more than 32 million sold since their debut 23 years ago. How has the humble Le Pliage remained a reliable bestseller for nearly two decades when so many other handbag trends have come and gone?
The French Longchamp Outlet brand is valued at $1.5 billion by Forbes, due in large part to the Le Pliage. While its business is big, it’s considerably smaller than that of its publicly-traded competitors Michael Kors, Kate Spade, and Coach. Still, Longchamp is able to hold its own against these accessory giants — and its story begins with pipes.
In post-war Paris, Jean Cassegrain, the son of a prominent tobacconist, pivoted the direction of his father’s Au Sultan tobacco shop by introducing accessories made of leather. During the early 1940s, Allied soldiers were Jean’s father’s best customers, frequently visiting the small store on Boulevard Poissonnière to buy conventional smoking pipes. Once the war was over though, business was weak and the shop needed to diversify. Jean decided to debut leather-enveloped pipes for men in 1948, imitating techniques used by horse saddlers. Customers took a real liking to the luxury pipes; Elvis Presley allegedly even had one, according to the LA Times.
“There wasn’t an American GI in Europe who didn’t have one of these pipes at the time,” Jean Cassegrain, the current CEO of Longchamp and grandson (and namesake) of the brand’s founder, told the International Herald Tribune back in 1998. “They were exported and sold in PXs worldwide. That’s how it all started.”
Following the success of the leather pipes, the brand rolled out a pipe for its female customers, “the Lady,” and in 1955 expanded into other leather accessories, including cigar cases, lighters, ashtrays, cigarette dispensers, wallets, and passport holders. The family originally wanted to call the brand “Cassegrain,” but because a cousin was using the name for a family-run grain-milling business, they settled on Longchamp Outlet Online, a reference to the famous Parisian racetrack in the Bois de Boulogne, since leather goods are commonly associated with equestrianism. To this day, the brand’s logo is a jockey on a galloping horse.
Because the Cassegrains’ business roots were in tobacco, the family already had access to trade routes. In fact, Longchamp was one of the first European companies to trade with Japan, notes InStore Magazine. By 1960, its smoking accessories were sold in nearly 100 countries, and Longchamp began to produce men’s travel bags; the Cassegrains claim they were the first to create luggage made of nylon. Around this time, the family started to think about women’s accessories. According to WWD, many female shoppers in America were buying the men’s bags and requesting store buyers inquire about a women’s collection.
So in 1971, Longchamp debuted its first women’s bag, just one year before the first Jean Cassegrain passed away and his wife and son Philippe took over the family business. The “LM line,” which was first sold in Japan, was made of calfskin leather and featured horses silkscreened over a crisscross pattern (an edition of this original bag was reissued a few years ago to celebrate the brand’s 60th anniversary). The bags were an instant success and helped the brand spread rapidly across Asia. As Longchamp began to gain a reputation for producing outstanding lightweight bags, its smoking accessories appeared less and less in catalogues, until they disappeared completely in 1979.
Philippe took full control of the business after his mother died in 1980, and with expansions into clothing and other accessories like scarves, he brought his wife Michèle on board, and years later, his children Sophie, Olivier, and Jean. They still run the company today: Sophie, as artistic director; Olivier, as US managing director; and Jean, as CEO. Like Goyard, Longchamp remains one of the few high-profile accessories brands that remains single-handedly owned and operated by one family.
“The difference in having a family-run business is that they think generation to generation, not quarter to quarter,” says Katherine Ormerod, editorial director of luxury shopping site Lyst. “That’s part of the authenticity of the brand.”
Philippe introduced the Le Pliage bag in 1993, inspired by origami he saw on a trip to Japan. Initially, the bag was met with little fanfare. According to Entrepreneur, it was backed by zero marketing dollars and sales stalled for the first three years. But the bag found its footing.
“Le Pliage” means “folding bag” in French, and its simple design hit a nerve. The International Herald Tribune called it “one of those have-to-have fashions” in 1998, and the Associated Press half-jokingly told Kate Spade to “move over.” By 2008, Jean Cassegrain confirmed to WWD that the brand was making 2.5 million bags a year, boasting that he didn’t “think any brand has any single design that sells that much.”
“It was French fashion journalists who started to carry it,” Jean told the IHT. “For them, it corresponded to a real need and soon they were writing about it.”
Here we present the new colors in advance of one of the emblem of the French firm Longchamp bags: Le Heritage.
The new bags Le Heritage will soon be available longchamp for sale in stores in the fashion and accessories Paris, the moment here we go.
By spring 2016 the popular French brand for its bags, Longchamp, bet on one hand by very bright colors like fuchsia, blue and red klein, another color on the block in calmer colors like pink very light pastel combined with the black, the pumpkin with cream and beige combined with military green.
No doubt our favorite combination of longchamp outlet bags Le Heritage is the color on the block in very light pastel pink with black and white, ideal for contrast a daytime look.
Here you have the new colors of the collection for Spring-Summer 2016 fashion brand of Paris.
It’s winter, no doubt on the matter, but the spring-summer 2016 campaigns claws come to us such sunny flashes that promise to make us withstand freezing temperatures. Here is one of Longchamp Outlet, French leather goods brand, which features Alexa Chung, the face of the brand: absolutely beautiful!
The beautiful Englishwoman, short bob cut, dyed golden by the sun, coat belted high on the waist, a red bag of the house under his arm, is both glamorous and dynamic business woman.
Alexa Chung is a true fashion icon and each of his public appearances is a real pleasure. To see the evolution of his style, click here.
I stared at this bag for a few seconds before it hit me that I was looking at tromp l’oeil tire tracks, which has Jeremy Scott written all over it. His prints are thoroughly modern and often unconventional, but I’ve never seen one that I found too weird or too displeasing to love. He does a great job of bringing pop art to the fashion world, and his designs are often surprisingly useable.
As for the Longchamp Bags portion of this design, I think we all know why the brand’s bags are popular. This one is waterproof for bad weather and its no-fuss lines perfectly display Scott’s large-scale pattern. The coupling of the two brands is counter-intuitive, but looking at the final product, it makes so much sense. Buy through Colette for $48.
Known for creating the iconic Le Pilage tote, Longchamp’s new bags for Spring/Summer are functional and chic. There’s a variety of styles to pick from, ranging from stylish rucksacks to chic bucket bags. Each styles comes in different colours and materials, like the bucket bag in tan and white and the designs manage to balance a fine line between style and practicality; appealing to both the young and old. The longchamp bag are designed to to carry all your daily essentials and great for the weekend.
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Forget counting cars to pass the time. My teenage daughter and I have invented a new game, which we’ve dubbed Tot Up The Totes.
We’re tallying up how many women we see carrying the same handbag. Not just any old bags: the smart, understated nylon ones with the leather handles and trim that seem to be everywhere at the moment.
For the uninitiated, it is Le Pliage, from French luxury brand Longchamp. In a recent round-up of ‘It Bags’ by a fashion magazine, it was up there with the Fendi Baguette (£107) and the Hermes Birkin (from £560) – even though it costs no more than £80, and sometimes as little as £48.
If you didn’t know the name, you would certainly recognise the simple design. It’s being sported by everyone right now.
On a day trip to London alone, we’d spied 20 travelling from Charing Cross to Sloane Square. Red, beige, black, navy – one woman even had three: the roomy travel bag on one shoulder, the medium-sized shopper on the other and the dinky handbag on her arm.
And there they were again in Tunbridge Wells, Kent. They’re even taking over at my daughter’s school where the large, long-handled shopper is popular with fashion-conscious sixth-formers.
Unbelievably, more than 31 million of the longchamp bags have now been sold globally – not bad for a family-run business which started out in 1948 selling small leather goods for men.
So just how did the Longchamp foldable tote take over the world?
Celebrity aficionados clearly love them for their sheer practicality. For the A-lister on the move, no other design manages to cater for all life’s eventualities and yet still look effortlessly elegant.
The beauty of Le Pliage (which means ‘folding’ in French) is that it folds down into a neat rectangle secured by the leather flap, making it perfect for stashing in a smarter handbag for times when you need to carry a few extra bits and bobs. The Duchess of Cornwall and Mary Berry never seem to travel without one and actress Katie Holmes uses hers for gym kit.
It’s a godsend for mothers, too – the fabric wipes clean and is water resistant. Amy Adams isn’t the only Hollywood mother to be seen out and about with a child in one arm and a long-handled Longchamp in the other. Although only the stylishly single can plump for a white one like those carried by Pippa Middleton and Alexa Chung.
For the globe-trotting fashionista, meanwhile, the rainbow of colours on offer is a simple way of colour coding belongings. Fashion journalist Suzy Menkes has confessed in Vogue that she has several foldable Longchamps.
‘The smaller ones in bright colours were not so much to go with my clothes (although I am partial to purple, wine-red and turquoise). It is rather because I must know in a microsecond which bag I am grabbing each morning: the one with my laptop? With my show shoes? Or with the iPad?’
Meanwhile, for those of us who own only one, the bags have proved a welcome riposte to the eye-wateringly expensive Bag published by Laurence King bags of the Noughties, which cost almost as much as a family holiday.
‘Instantly recognisable, this is a designer handbag with a very modest price tag,’ says Sue Huey, trend forecaster at Stylus Fashion and co-author of Bag. ‘It is such a popular bag because of its refined simplicity.
‘Whilst its primary material is nylon, its use of leather trim gives it a luxe look and feel. It’s durable and incredibly versatile. And its endless colour range and size options means it’s a style often purchased more than once. It’s a transitional piece that’s functional enough for shopping, yet smart enough for dinner.’
The first Le Pliage was sold in 1993. It was developed by head of the family firm, Philippe Cassegrain, who wanted to create a practical yet stylish fold-up bag inspired by Japanese paper-folding art, origami.
He hoped to create luxe accessories for female customers. And so he did, although at first, the bag was the close-guarded style secret of Parisiennes.
It was a chic French friend who introduced me to the bag eight years ago. She had a couple in the car for her weekly shop. When I asked her what they were, she showed me and I was green with envy. They certainly knocked the spots off the plastic bags in my boot.
Then the Sloanes caught on and Le Pliage moved up a notch from emergency shopper to everyday handbag. Kate Middleton was one of the early converts. Her love of the bag (these days she appears to have most sizes, from small shopper to overnight travel bag) dates back to her student days at St Andrews.
She even had a small brown Longchamp swinging from her wrist when she graduated in June 2005.
Whereas once she no doubt just threw in a purse, lipstick and diary, these days her favourite carry-all is proving more useful for carting George and Charlotte’s toys about.
However, Le Pliage really started to go mainstream during the economic downturn, due to its affordability and discreet branding. Sales will no doubt now be boosted by the new 5p charge for plastic bags, too.
Having emerged as a modern woman’s must-have, it’s perhaps no surprise Longchamp is keen to turn the practical little bag into a lifestyle concept.
And so there is now a Longchamp Woman ready-to-wear clothing range, a shoe collection and, last year, to mark the 21st anniversary of the nylon original, a luxury leather version – and so it was that the bag that was a refreshing change from pricey designer bags gave birth to the super-expensive Le Pliage Heritage, which starts at £68. Mad Men actress January Jones has been spotted with one.
How things can so quickly come full circle – but still, I defy you not to lust after it.
It’s also worth noting there’s a more affordable leather range called Le Pliage Cuir, with prices starting at £45 for a practical cross-body bag – and all the bags in this range still fold up even though they’re entirely made of leather. The nylon original, meanwhile, can now be personalised, meaning you can choose your own colours, as well as handle lengths (some like long, I like short), three types of zips and so on.
Of course, as with any fashion fad, the counterfeit trade in Le Pliage totes is a threat to the brand and a real temptation to consumers. One friend guiltily admits that she picked up two for £4 each in a Turkish market on holiday. ‘They’re not as good quality but it’s hard to tell the difference from a distance,’ she says. Such is the extent of the problem with fakes, Le Pliage devotees have come up with a detailed checklist to help consumers quickly spot a fake.
Look closely and the leather used by Longchamp Outlet has a diamond pattern, whereas the fakes tend to have a fish-scale design.
On the reverse side of the leather flap, look out for an indent of the brand logo (a jockey on a horse) as counterfeit copies don’t usually have this. Also, the handle should be flat and the stitching in a beige thread not white.
So what is next for the Le Pliage? Trend forecasters say it’s now time for men to adopt. It’s already happening in Milan, where uber-stylish chaps are carrying them in fetching shades of lemon and coral.
I’ll have to put one on my husband’s Christmas present list – and if he doesn’t want to use it, I know someone who will …
LOS ANGELES — Longchamp Outlet, the traditional French luxury accessories and clothing brand famous for its nylon Le Pliage bags, touched down in Los Angeles recently to celebrate its decade-long relationship with the eccentric fashion designer Jeremy Scott.
Over the years, Longchamp has let Scott use Le Pliage as a canvas for a number of limited-edition designs inspired by his self-named ready-to-wear collections. The highly collectible bags have featured eye-popping graphics including brightly colored piles of pills, 1980s Madballs characters, Zodiac symbols and retro postcard images. A $370 “Greetings from Hollywood” design was released to coincide with the L.A. celebration and anniversary.
Founded by the late Jean Cassegrain in 1948, Longchamp is still a family business 60-plus years later, run by the second and third generations. I sat down with creative director Sophie Delafontaine and Chief Executive Jean Cassegrain (the founder’s grandchildren) while they were in town, to learn about the brand’s heritage, including the back story behind their father Philippe Cassegrain’s origami-like Pliage design, which debuted in 1993. Here are the takeaways.
Longchamp started with pipes, not bags — and even Elvis was a fan.
“A lot of young men were smoking pipes at the time, and a lot of Americans were coming through Paris after World War II. At some point, Elvis Presley must have been through Paris and purchased the pipe,” Cassegrain said. “The name of the store was not Longchamp at first. It was a tobacconist, selling cigarettes, cigars, lighters and stuff like that. My grandfather was successful supplying the GIs in Paris, but when they went home he was left with an excess. So to give his pipes an identity, he decided to cover them in leather and stamp them with the Longchamp Outlet name, after the racetrack in Bois de Boulogne, since another company was already using the name Cassegrain.” In the 1950s, the company expanded into leather goods, then luggage and eventually handbags and ready-to-wear.
More than 30 million Le Pliage bags have been sold worldwide, and it takes more than 100 steps to make each one.
A tote that folds flat, Le Pliage (French for “the folding”) comes in a range of sizes and fabrics including leather, nylon and canvas, all accented with a signature leather oval that snaps over the leather handles. On the brand’s website, you can customize your Pliage by choosing colors and monograms.
“Our father was the first person to have the idea to make luggage from nylon. And the first nylon he used was the nylon used by the French army for the floor of their tents. It was khaki-colored,” Cassegrain explains. “It’s not that unique to put crocodile or gold everywhere to make luxury,” he says. “Luxury is something (that is) well-suited to your need.”
Longchamp makes clothing to accessorize its Longchamp bags, not the other way around.
“I started with six or seven pieces — coats, jackets, very simple,” says Delafontaine. “Season after season, the collection has grown, and now we also have shoes. I always start by designing the handbag collection first, which is different from most brands. I like to use leather and play with it. I make jackets that look like cashmere sweaters but are in lambskin so soft and light, you can fold them in your luggage, for example.”
Longchamp may seem traditional, but the Jeremy Scott collaboration has been seamless, so much so that not one of his designs has ever been rejected.
“We call ourselves an optimistic luxury brand, and we like his optimistic point of view,” says Delafontaine. “He’s fun, pop and colorful, and he has a huge sense of humor — even about himself. His designs may be eccentric but it never becomes trash.”
Hermes is not the only luxury goods brand hand-making bags in France; Longchamp does it too.
Longchamp has six factories in France, mostly in the Loire Valley region. Half of what the company makes is done there, and half is done outside. “It’s difficult to automatize the making of handbags, so a lot of it is manual,” Cassegrain says. “Hermes is quite unique, insofar as the same person makes an entire bag. Even brands like Vuitton and Chanel don’t work like that. But the know-how of our workshops is impressive.”
“For the 20th anniversary of Le Pliage, we created the Pliage Heritage, a version of the bag in full leather,” Delafontaine says. “The opposite of foldable nylon, it is very structured. And I was pleased to work with our team on it to show all the qualities we have at our fingertips.”