Iconic French fashion brand Longchamp has just opened the doors to a newly renovated apartment at the ‘Paris end’ of Melbourne’s Collins Street in a way that is très chic. The luxury market is categorised by its exclusivity, maintained through a combination of high price points, consciously limited product volumes, reputation and customer experience, amongst other factors. Globally in 2024, the luxury goods market is projected to generate US$369 billion in revenue, with fashion being the
he largest segment, reaching a market volume of US$115.90 billion in 2024. Customer experience is almost as important to consumers as the product itself, and the experience of buying a luxury item directly from the designer is an area in which luxury brands are constantly investing. A family business Longchamp is a French luxury brand with four generations of family business at its heart. It was founded in Paris in 1948 by Jean Cassegrain, who pioneered leather-covered tobacco pipes, before expanding into small leather goods. The brand is still known for its leather goods to this day, particularly Le Pliage, a lightweight foldable bag that was inspired by origami and has achieved cult status globally. The brand has grown to have a presence in 80 countries through a distribution network encompassing 1200 points of sale across stand-alone stores, franchises, department stores, multi-brand leather goods stores, travel retail and e-commerce websites. Longchamp manages 325 direct-to-consumer stores through 25 distribution subsidiaries around the world. Amalgamation of art, design and comfort The brand’s subsidiary in Australia and New Zealand worked closely with Longchamp’s global and regional architecture departments to adapt the new store concept to the layout of the location layout and the heritage of the building. The renovation process took almost a full year to complete from concept drawings to opening the doors again for patrons. A significant amount of time was taken to source an eclectic yet appropriate selection of leather goods, accessories, and l’objets d’art (a range of works of art consisting of ornamental objects), to best represent the Parisian apartment style and also to reflect the brand’s passion for craftsmanship. The brand commissioned a unique painting from local Australian artist, John Aslanidis, a close friend of the Cassegrain family, for the store. He has previously worked with the brand on a commission for the brand’s Omotesando flagship store in Japan. The concept of Longchamp’s most recently renovated boutiques in Melbourne and Brisbane was developed to reflect the brand’s heritage, savoir-faire, and creative spirit by paying tribute to the quintessential Parisian apartment. French designer Pierre Renart’s ‘wave table’ can be seen in the window of the Collins Street boutique, echoing the brand’s deep appreciation for craftsmanship. “The Lumiere green on the walls reflects the brand attitudes of optimism and energy while the l’objets d’art on display speak to the importance that Longchamp places on sustainability and eco-responsibility by being hand-picked, flea market and antique finds. We have also made sure to incorporate artwork from the brand’s vibrant history with historical advertisements, art and posters,” said Julie Therond, general manager of Longchamp Australia & New Zealand. Coming to Australia and future plans for the Parisian Longchamp was first launched in Australia over 40 years ago at the instigation of the late Phillipe Cassegrain, the founder’s son, who spearheaded most of the brand’s international developments through his numerous travels around the world. He was renowned for designing the Le Pliage handbag in 1993. Phillipe created a partnership with another family-owned business, Hunt Leather, to tap into the Australian market. Longchamp bought back the business in 2019. Today, his eldest son Jean Cassegrain is the CEO, while his daughter Sophie Delafontaine is the creative director, and his younger son, Olivier Cassegrain, leads the development of the brand’s American boutiques. Investing in the retail footprint will continue throughout 2024 with more renovations on the horizon. Therond told Inside Retail, “We will continue to develop brand awareness around our leather craftsmanship and our Parisian heritage. The brand still has potential to grow further in Australia.” Currently, there are five directly operated ‘doors’ in Australia, and the plan is to have an additional three within the next two years. The distribution network will remain selective, with a focus on the best shopping centres and department stores, including David Jones in Australia, Harrods in the UK and Macy’s in the US. Rather than further expanding its wholesale presence in ANZ and on a global level, the brand will instead invest in its retail network and premium stockists to preserve its prestige and exclusivity. The brand also plans to showcase the reinvigoration of the Le Roseau line to be softer, more feminine and refined in its next collection, embodying its values of authenticity and energy, and combining the sustainable and creative parts of Longchamp.