For years, French brand Longchamp was best known for its foldable leather-lined vinyl bags in various sizes and colors. The company has sold more than 19 million of the functional Pilage bags since the line was introduced in 1993.
But last year, Longchamp took a more glamorous turn, with the launch of a handbag collection designed by Kate Moss. Longchamp splashed the British model’s image across large billboards in the world’s top retail centers, and the Gloucester bag she designed—it costs US $990, about $800 more than a Pliage bag—was the company’s best-selling bag in 2010
Mr. Cassegrain was in Hong Kong recently for the opening of Le Maison 8, a new Longchamp store on Queen’s Road Central. He shared five examples of branding success stories:
1. The Hermès Birkin bag with Jane Birkin.
“The Birkin’s a huge success and a very iconic bag. We think this is the best celebrity-brand collaboration – until we launched our Kate Moss for Longchamp collaboration that is.”
2. Ermenegildo Zegna in China.
“We can find inspiration in the great success of this family brand in China.” [The brand devoted its 2011 fall/winter collection to China and has more than 60 retail stores in the country. Sales there make up 25% of the company’s total retail sales.]
“Whether it is its products, its stores or its website, Apple’s concept is based on simplicity. Simplicity is one of our core values at Longchamp and it is the hardest thing to achieve. It is best embodied in our ultra-simple ‘Le Pliage’ bag — its refined simplicity makes it a hit, just like the iPhone.”
4. Shang Xia.
“It’s a very daring and innovative experiment for Hermès [to start a new brand in China.] We will be watching with great interest.”
5. Abercrombie & Fitch.
The brand shows “how innovation can bring success in a saturated market. And [the company went] against conventional wisdom – with stores so dark that you can’t see the products and so loud that you can’t speak to the salespeople!”
Two out of five examples of branding success cases come from China and Longchamp just opened Le Maison 8, a new store on Queen’s Road Central Hong Kong.