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 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 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, 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 fans just keep coming back from more, year after year, with no slowdown in sight. How many do you have in your closet?