Longchamp is a much sought after heritage brand. But sometimes, heritage is not necessarily the heritage that you might expect it to be. With it’s horseracing logo and being particularly well-known for various leather bag styles that are historically associated with the sport of kings, one could easily be forgiven for thinking that the iconic Parisian brand has its roots in traditional equestrian crafts. In reality, the true history is actually a lot more interesting.
Longchamp was, in fact, the brainchild of a Parisian tobacconist’s son Jean Cassegrain. In 1948, in what is probably one of the most interesting case studies of business diversification, Monsieur Cassegrain decided to focus less on the traditional tobacconist’s trade and more on the accessories that went with it. The company that we now all know for its high-quality leather goods was born out of Cassegrain’s foray into creating beautifully handcrafted smoking accessories using top-class leather manufacturing techniques as its primary signature. Soon the business was far better known for its leather-bound cigarette cases and its unusual pipes clad in quilted leather as Paris scrambled to get its hands on Cassegrain’s designs.
The signature equestrian logo, created by illustrator Turenne Chevallereau, which was part of Cassegrain’s endeavour from the outset, was actually a matter of practicality: one of his relative’s use of the family name as a commercial trademark prevented him from using it. The Longchamp logo is effectively a visual pun, a play on Cassegrain’s surname and its association with one of the last remaining Parisian mills that stood at the end of the Longchamp racecourse. Coincidence turned out to be fortuitous given the natural associations between horseracing and high-end leather craft, the direction in which the family business had turned.
Some sixty years later, this quintessentially Parisian brand remains bijou and in demand for its fashionable leather goods. And when one spies its Le Cabas and Le Pliage ranges, it’s easy to see why. Both ranges are loosely based on the styles of equestrian bags for which the brand is particularly well known, such as the tote bag. But both offer women who know their own minds a high-level of customisation. Each range allows the customer to choose the size of bag that suits her, the style of handles, the colours and materials. In the case of Le Cabas, the lucky owner can choose to have her initials monogrammed into the bag as stark no-nonsense large-scale perforations. With Le Pliage, the choices become even more extensive, offering a choice of metallic finishes for the famous Longchmap logo and a range of monogram options including embossing or embroidery.
As the festive season looms, these innovative mix ‘n match ranges offer the perfect solution for busy people who have a special woman to treat. The fact that one can order a customised Le Cabas or Le Pliage bag online in a matter of minutes doesn’t take away from the fact that in only a few weeks, the lucky recipient will end up with a fabulous bag that has a high likelihood of suiting her perfectly.