To be very honest, Longchamp isn’t the first name that comes to mind when I think of a luxury fashion house. It isn’t even the second, or the third. Arguably, it can be classified as a “contemporary label” or an “affordable luxury”. But even though Longchamp’s iconic bag, the Le Pliage, is actually less expensive than most of its counterparts from Coach, Michael Kors and Kate Spade, Longchamp seems to be in a league of its own, set apart from the crowded contemporary bag market of today by some seemingly inexplicable aura. And when speaking of the Le Pliage, it’s hard to imagine a closet devoid of one (if not several) of these versatile ubiquitous carryalls whose name literally translates to “the folding”. In fact, there arguably isn’t another brand, whether it be Fendi or Hermès, that conjures up vivid images of just one bag, as much as the Le Pliage has become (perhaps deliberately) a part of Longchamp’s identity.

However, while that makes it tempting to think that Longchamp only specializes in nylon totes (as much as you’d be inclined to think that Mercedes only makes cars and NOT ready-to-wear; honestly, I’m as shocked as you are), the truth is that Longchamp has a slew of gorgeous all-leather bags that its aficionados just can’t get enough of!

And even though Tina Craig of BagSnob told the now-defunct Racked how all Longchamp bags beside the Le Pliage are mere “vanity projects”, I’m here to disagree, and take you on a tour of the historic French house’s lust-worthy array of handbags that are bound to make you stop in your tracks and start obsessing right now! So sit back, get your shopping apps ready and embark on the Longchamp racecourse (I promise this equestrian pun will make sense in a minute)!

Though now most widely known for its foldable totes, Longchamp’s roots can be traced to the Au Sultan Tobacco Shop at the Boulevard Poissonnière in Paris, a purveyor of smoking pipes and cigars popular among Allied soldiers in France during the Second World War. However, after the war, as the soldiers departed and profits started to wane, Jean Cassegrain, son of the tobacconist, introduced smoking pipes covered in leather stitched with saddlery techniques, and named it “Longchamp” after a famed Parisian horseracing track in the Bois de Boulogne, the name “Cassegrain” having been already taken by a cousin’s grain-milling business (hence, the racecourse pun). These leather pipes became so widely sold out, even Elvis Presley is said to have owned one, and Longchamp became one of the first European brands to sell in Japan. Soon, a pipe for women was introduced, called “the Lady”, and in 1960, the company diversified into making not only smoking accessories and small leather goods, but also reportedly the first nylon travel luggages for men. Now, legend has it that these lightweight, superior-quality bags became so highly sought-after among female customers that Longchamp debuted its very first women’s handbag, the LM line. The line was made of calfskin embossed with a crisscross pattern featuring horse-jockeys, and was first sold in Japan, and very soon, throughout Asia and the world. As its bag and luggage lines continued to gain momentum, Longchamp’s smoking lines lost their glamour, eventually disappearing by 1979.

image via Longchamp

But it was in 1993 that Philippe Cassegrain, the founder’s son, became fascinated with the art of origami he came across in Japan, and launched the Le Pliage. Initially though, the bag barely received any fanfare, and according to Entrepreneur, it was backed by zero marketing funds, in part due to the leatherware brand’s reluctance to position a nylon product as its cornerstone piece (am I the only one who finds this ironic?). Slowly though, as It-bags from conventional luxury houses came, rose and fell, the Le Pliage took over the world, or in the very least, everybody’s closets. And its appeal is understandable too, it gracefully takes your workload without complaining, regardless of rain, shine, snow, coffee and God knows what other things, and can be folded and stowed away anywhere. It’s also one of the few accessories that can be suited to anybody of any gender, age and social standing, from school-goers and working people to your grandparents and Jessica Alba, something that Entrepreneur describes as a “sociological anomaly”.

Along with nylon, the Le Pliage has been released in the cuir version – an all leather tote that’s almost as light as the original and can be folded to be just as compact, although with a slightly elevated price tag for those with slightly elevated tastes. But besides the gazillion colours and variations of the Le Pliage (more than 32 million have been sold till date), one of Longchamp’s hottest bags is the Roseau, with a bamboo-inspired closure, embodying chic Parisian style just as well as Jerome Dreyfuss (the Roseau got featured on Call My Agent too, along with the now-discontinued Legende satchel). In 2019, Longchamp launched its very first runway collection in New York, since then it has been at the top of the bag-game, releasing on-trend, micro versions of the Le Pliage Cuir and Roseau while keeping the versatility and craftsmanship (at least half of its handbags are said to be handmade in France!) intact.

If you’re looking for a more structured top-handle work bag though, Longchamp’s Mailbox has you covered, complete with gussets, shoulder straps and a functional top zipper in sober neutrals as well as work-appropriate but stunning hues of marmelade, chalk and red. If, conversely, a quilted flap is more your style, yet you crave something beyond the Chanel lookalikes, the Brioche may be the one for you (the pastel jade is surely going to be your new summer favorite that you will continue wearing into fall). And if you’d like to embody Longchamp’s spirit and go for a saddle, you’ll find yourself swearing by the Cavalcade or the 1980 Crossbody.

But as you took a whirlwind trip of Longchamp’s various eye-catching designs (most of them priced well below $1,000, yay!), you might be wondering how Longchamp manages to maintain its status even though it’s a lot more saturated than its American contemporaries. The answer to that lies in the fact that it’s still an exclusively family-owned business, with Philippe Cassegrain’s children, Jean as the CEO, Olivier as the US Managing Director and Sophie Delafontaine as its Creative Director, managing the helm of the business and constantly striving towards betterment. And Longchamp has a very different definition of development than other fashion houses; for the Cassegrains, progress means keeping up with the ideal of Parisian fashion rather than chasing trends – looking effortless, chic and elegant, keeping things fresh and interesting. Add this to their commitment towards maintaining the best quality (something its aficionados have compared with that of Hermès) and given how affordably they’re priced, it’s difficult to ignore its presence in the fashion scene. Alongside that, Longchamp is another brand that has aced the art of collaborations, whether it be with Kate Moss for the Gloucester or with designers like Jeremy Scott or Mary Katrantzou and artists like Tracy Emin and Jean-Luc Moerman. The result has been bold, graphic but entirely usable, limited edition versions of the Le Pliage that are even considered collectibles!

French style is something the world has been trying to imitate for way too long, and certain designers have led us to believe that eye-wateringly priced handbags named after French confectioneries are what we need to bring out the Parisian in us. Turns out though, it’s closer to you than you think, just open your wardrobe and show that Le Pliage some love (while you proceed to checkout with that croc-embossed Roseau tote of course!)

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tiffany
tiffany
5 months ago

Longchamp is in a strange space when it comes to categorizing brands. If they were priced higher, I think it would be easy to place them in the luxury category without question. Their classic style and solid quality make that a justifiable argument, in my opinion. While some may classify the brand as contemporary, I don’t think that’s entirely accurate. Their quality and consistency place them in a separate category from Kate Spade or Coach, for example. I would lean toward calling this a luxury brand, albeit a more affordable one than what typically occupies that space.

Sajid Bin Mohammad
Sajid Bin Mohammad
5 months ago
Reply to  tiffany

While it’s true that all contemporary brands have offerings at price points as low as that of the Le Pliage’s, few are as functional, versatile and honestly, as big as the Le Pliage. So you’re right to classify it as a luxury at an affordable price point, rather than what’s conventionally called an “affordable luxury”.

tiffany
tiffany
5 months ago

I’ve owned their nylon and leather pieces over the years and have never been disappointed. The value for the price is pretty exceptional.

Sajid Bin Mohammad
Sajid Bin Mohammad
5 months ago
Reply to  tiffany

The same can be said for very few brands nowadays, even in the luxury category, so that’s really saying something.

tiffany
tiffany
5 months ago

Agree completely!

psny15
psny15
5 months ago

in my opinion Longchamp is not luxury brand – I carry the bag when it rains or when I’m traveling and want a duffel that I can be carefree with

Sajid Bin Mohammad
Sajid Bin Mohammad
5 months ago
Reply to  psny15

That can be said of its nylon products, just wait till you get your hands on the leather goods….. 🙂

macroblue
macroblue
5 months ago

I truly adore Longchamp. Great price points and the bags don’t go out of style immediately after purchase. Other brands look like fast fashion in comparison.

Sajid Bin Mohammad
Sajid Bin Mohammad
5 months ago
Reply to  macroblue

This really got me thinking, you know, about how most contemporary brands that seem to imitate the latest trends from top-tier fashion houses and release designs like that each season aren’t actually that different from fast fashion brands. Are we classifying them wrong?

Anonymous
Anonymous
5 months ago

I know the Le Pliage is a grocery bag for many French women, but I also know many women who view a Le Pliage as a luxury that must be saved for. Let’s be real, any bag that retails for hundreds of dollars (as Longchamp’s leather bags do) is a luxury.

Sajid Bin Mohammad
Sajid Bin Mohammad
5 months ago
Reply to  Anonymous

You’re right, and in Longchamp’s case, saving up for the purchase makes a lot of sense actually given how well they hold up and how versatile they are.

Yazi
Yazi
5 months ago

Longchamp is more than it’s nylon bags. The Roseau is a great choice for a lowkey elegant bag. I think of Longchamp as existing in its own category, like Polene, French style that is minimalist yet fashionable.

And doesn’t make you cry when buying a mew bag from them!

Sajid Bin Mohammad
Sajid Bin Mohammad
5 months ago
Reply to  Yazi

Indeed, the Roseau is amazingly designed, made and priced!

SegoIJ
SegoIJ
5 months ago

I’d put Longchamp in the same category as Coach 1941, Michael Kors Collection, Mansur Gavriel- lower-end luxury that has a wide reach. It’s better than Furla, Kate Spade, or Karl Lagerfield, but not as nice as mid-level luxury ie Proenza, Jimmy Choo, Bally, Tod’s. (High level luxury I would consider Chanel, Dior, Fendi). I don’t think it fits into popular to fit into the “contemporary/indie” brand anymore, but it’s on par with Danse Lente, Wandler, and Polene.

Sajid Bin Mohammad
Sajid Bin Mohammad
5 months ago
Reply to  SegoIJ

That’s a very comprehensive breakdown, I might be using it myself when assessing brands from now!

SegoIJ
SegoIJ
5 months ago

I would love to see article on PB ranking brands- ie what would fail in “low” “mid” or “high” in terms of luxury brands. Granted those designations are somewhat subjective- but I’d love to see what the comment section looks like. I’d put LV in the “mid” level just to start drama and see what unfolds.

Sajid Bin Mohammad
Sajid Bin Mohammad
5 months ago
Reply to  SegoIJ

LV canvas would probably be in the mid-tier, but LV leather should be classified as premier? I’m daunted already!

lalarey
lalarey
5 months ago

I think we can safely refer to Longchamp, along with Coach but not much else, as Heritage Brands, and place them somewhere between luxury and contemporary. These are brands that have stood the test of time with their quality and their designs and I definitely think of them in a higher echelon than Kate Spade or Michael Kors or Rebecca Minkoff.

Sajid Bin Mohammad
Sajid Bin Mohammad
5 months ago
Reply to  lalarey

But Longchamp isn’t really comparable with all Coach products, there are a few Coaches out there that are definitely trying to be contemporary and following the trends. Longchamp should be ranked with Coach’s 1941 line or heritage leather lines in my opinion.

tiffany
tiffany
5 months ago
Reply to  SegoIJ

Agree with your assessment. It’s generally not in the four-figure luxury category, but holds its own above most “contemporary” brands.

loondoncalling
loondoncalling
5 months ago

No.

Aspen
Aspen
5 months ago

Not when they’re made in China. I guess their prices reflect that. Even some of their leather bags are made in Romania and China. However they’re better than most houses when it comes to customer service. I recently dropped off my vintage le pliage to be repaired. The corners were ripped. It’s almost as old as I am. My grandmother gave it to me to use as an overnight bag and I kinda just kept it. Lol. They even offered me to emboss it for free after it comes back from repair. Again, free. Very few brands offer this especially on an older bag with no receipt.

beacuz
beacuz
5 months ago
Reply to  Aspen

The custom LePliage nylon is made in France- at least they were in 2018. I was told when I ordered mine which is French blue with a cranberry red panel in the middle – opted to have the bigger Racehorse embroidered on the red and the hardware is an antique bronze. I just love it. I also have one purchased from Nordstrom’s that state made in China. They did tell me that they allow one free repair to each of the nylon Le Pliage. Sorry about the long comment I guess I need to get out more?

Sajid Bin Mohammad
Sajid Bin Mohammad
5 months ago
Reply to  Aspen

I guess that goes to show that “made in China” doesn’t necessarily mean loss of heritage, and I’d be inclined to think that Longchamp would take this repair matter very seriously especially since it’s a really old bag that’s being passed on for generations – it’s a symbol of their tradition and commitment to it, to put it rather dramatically.

Aspen
Aspen
5 months ago

It’s just hard to pay money for something you know is mass produced, conversely the same can be said about Louis Vuitton at this point. So I’m that regard id rather pay $200 for a Le Pliage vs $1600 for a speedy when they both are mass produced. For some reason people still think that there’s some little old lady sitting at a wooden desk sewing your speedy day and night.

Sajid Bin Mohammad
Sajid Bin Mohammad
5 months ago
Reply to  Aspen

True, “heritage” does seem to create that impression in popular culture, but I guess more people purchase the Le Pliage for its versatility and functionality rather than for its heritage, the latter only is perhaps more pronounced in their leather goods, which are reportedly handmade in France.

Sandy
Sandy
5 months ago

I guess I think of Longchamp like Coach. Nice enough bags for the price point.

Sajid Bin Mohammad
Sajid Bin Mohammad
5 months ago
Reply to  Sandy

Indeed, a real bang for the buck!

Justice
Justice
5 months ago

Madame Cassegrain described Longchamp as “semi-luxe” herself. ?

Sajid Bin Mohammad
Sajid Bin Mohammad
5 months ago
Reply to  Justice

Well, since it doesn’t fall strictly into the category of “conventional luxury”, that’s a good way of putting it.

babs123
babs123
5 months ago

No. Enough said.

T
T
5 months ago

I think of Longchamp as an “elevated contemporary”. It’s more refined than your typical contemporary brand. I’m one of those Le Pliage in different colors kinda gal.

Sajid Bin Mohammad
Sajid Bin Mohammad
5 months ago
Reply to  T

“Refined” is very much the word that sums up Longchamp, kudos on your collection of Le Pliages!

patrice williams
patrice williams
5 months ago

It certainly is a very nice brand and fantastic quality. I was just Pondering whether or not it was a luxury brand, The price point says no but the quality says not so fast.

Sajid Bin Mohammad
Sajid Bin Mohammad
5 months ago

In other words, one of the best deals ever!

Julie
Julie
5 months ago

I have owned several Longchamps – both nylon and leather. Not sure if its just Australian pricing but I think the leather bags are waaay over-rated and over-priced. I found the leather to be thin and/or stiff. To me, LC is trying to act like a luxury brand (slick advertising, French aura) but do not come through. I have been disappointed every time.

Julie
Julie
5 months ago

I have owned several Longchamps – both nylon and leather. Not sure if its just Australian pricing but I think the leather bags are waaay over-rated and over-priced. I found the leather to be thin and/or stiff. To me, LC is trying to act like a luxury brand (slick advertising, French aura) but do not come through. I have been disappointed every time.

Sajid Bin Mohammad
Sajid Bin Mohammad
5 months ago
Reply to  Julie

That’s extremely unfortunate to hear, which leather bag did you have? The thinness could account for its lightness, I guess.

FashionableLena
FashionableLena
5 months ago

I’ve never thought of Longchamp as a luxury brand. I really like the leather mini Le Pliage, but I can’t pull the trigger because I think that it’s expensive for what it is. I can get a full-size, everyday bag for that price. I also saw the nylon bags as good gym bags. I bought a used one for $40, and I love it for the gym. Unfortunately, I haven’t used it since the virus hit, and I don’t see myself going back to the gym anytime soon. I rather enjoy working out at home.

Sajid Bin Mohammad
Sajid Bin Mohammad
5 months ago

I kinda fancy using a Longchamp nylon on a fishing trip one day… But I guess, even though the price point is alright, too many of the other variables involved won’t work out now (like finding a water body with fish in it where I’m not likely to be hit by a steamer or eaten by carnivorous dolphins. Also COVID).

B-E-W
B-E-W
5 months ago

I think of Longchamp as a “heritage” brand

Sajid Bin Mohammad
Sajid Bin Mohammad
5 months ago
Reply to  B-E-W

I do too, high-five!

Sha sha Chu
Sha sha Chu
5 months ago

The Le Pliage is the most common bag you will see in the metropolitan areas in SouthEast Asia usually rocked by matrons. A lot of super fakes too!

It is classic and very sturdy! Depending on the color – can be an office bag, casual bag, grocery bag, beach bag and the large ones can be a carry-on / travel bag.

American version will be Tory Burch, Coach…….

Sajid Bin Mohammad
Sajid Bin Mohammad
5 months ago
Reply to  Sha sha Chu

Those fakers are just everywhere, aren’t they?

Irene
Irene
5 months ago

Love all Longchamps. Affordable and classic.
I am of the belief that the joy of unpacking a beautiful new handbag is always a luxury; no matter if it’s in the 3,4 or 5 figure range.
I have unboxed LV, Chanel, Coach, MK, and many others through the years. I always get a huge thrill and feel blessed when I’m doing it. Pure bliss for me. (Ok, the Chanel was maybe a bigger thrill, but , non the less) 😉
I wouldn’t put Longchamps in the “Premiere” category, but i would put it slightly above Kate Spade and Coach, (only because it isn’t as mainstream/circulated).

Sajid Bin Mohammad
Sajid Bin Mohammad
5 months ago
Reply to  Irene

I really get what you mean by the thrill of unboxing…. No wonder unboxing videos often feel so ASMR.

Doesn't matter
Doesn't matter
5 months ago

As long as you love using it, it doesn’t matter if others categorize it as luxury or not.

Sajid Bin Mohammad
Sajid Bin Mohammad
5 months ago
Reply to  Doesn't matter

Ultimate Bag Love!

anonymouspeeps
anonymouspeeps
5 months ago

oh yes, another article by my fave 🙂

I think the provenance of Longchamp is what gives it that ‘luxury’ aura. We’re all so conditioned to think of older French/Italian, etc., brands as next-level that they automatically get that luxury stamp.
They’re pretty and useful. I have older Le Pliage items (like 2005-10ish), and you can’t compare with the newer ones. Even the leather accents feel different.
Still a fan, whether the brand is considered top-shelf or not. I’m also a huge Herve Chapelier head, so I guess Longchamp is my ‘lane.’

Sajid Bin Mohammad
Sajid Bin Mohammad
5 months ago
Reply to  anonymouspeeps

You’re right, simply being French or Italian gives brands an added selling point that brands from other European nations, like Delvaux of Belgium, rarely achieve, even they may be highly superior in terms of quality.
About the change in Longchamp’s quality, do you think it has declined, or just become “different”? Does the nylon’s quality change too? I’m curious since you’ve not only experienced Le Pliages from various generations, but also other nylon-based brands like Herve Chapelier.

Emilee
Emilee
5 months ago

Luxury? No. Longevity and history? Yes. Don’t put lipstick on a pig and call it a “luxury handbag”- it’s a long shot. There’s too much missing criteria, even with their leather bags, to include it in the “luxury brand” department.

Sajid Bin Mohammad
Sajid Bin Mohammad
5 months ago
Reply to  Emilee

You bring up a fascinating point Emilee, what criteria defines whether a handbag is luxury or not? Arguably, history and longevity are what the premier brands like Louis Vuitton and Hermès bank upon, aren’t they?

Emilee
Emilee
5 months ago

No, LV & Hermes doesn’t “bank” on just “history and longevity”. It is important, but there is seriously so much more. If you are interested there are copious amounts of information that pertains to the question “What qualifies as a luxury brand”? It’s fascinating reading! Enjoy!

Sajid Bin Mohammad
Sajid Bin Mohammad
5 months ago
Reply to  Emilee

Thank you! It’s indeed food for the bag-loving soul

Liza Gusarova
Liza Gusarova
5 months ago

Great article,I didn’t know the history of those bags of which I own several nylon ones.
Their leather bags are overpriced in my opinion,and what I find inconvenient for me personally is the flap over zipper – just too much effort to open and close a bag.

Sajid Bin Mohammad
Sajid Bin Mohammad
5 months ago
Reply to  Liza Gusarova

That does give you the option of carrying it with the flap closed and the zipper open, so that’s something!

psny15
psny15
5 months ago

in my opinion Longchamp is not luxury brand – I carry the bag when it rains or when I’m traveling and want a duffel that I can be carefree with

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