When we were transitioning from school backpacks to more grown-up silhouettes, a friend recommended we start with a small short-handled Longchamp Le Pliage. “It’s like a magic bag, you can fit so much,” she said.
Indeed, when we got our first bright pink Le Pliage, we were stunned at how much stuff fit into that tiny nylon bag.
We were hooked. We got a full set of different-sized Le Pliage in a travel-friendly eggplant shade, a few limited-edition Jeremy Scotts, and a basic black. It could become anything.
Le Pliage is the perfect bag for pack rats everywhere—the virtually weightless nylon lets you haul a lot without feeling like you were carrying a ton of bricks.
To some, it’s a gym bag, to others an emergency overnight bag.
Le Piage is a staple in our suitcases, in case we need an extra bag to unfold when we go overboard with the shopping, or if it suddenly rains and we need a weather-proofed bag (we can vouch for its ability to repel water after we got soaked in a sudden downpour once).
Longchamp is not new to the Philippines; the Pliage is so ubiquitous that if you took a shot every time you saw someone carrying one on a weekend at the mall, you’d be drunk before lunch. After years of popularity here, the French brand has finally set up its own boutique at Greenbelt 5.
François-Xavier Séverin, Longchamp general manager in Asia-Pacific, said that the timing was perfect for a boutique. “If we could’ve done it earlier, we would’ve done it.,” he said. “We were waiting for the right opportunity and location; Greenbelt was clearly where we wanted to be. We knew the market was ready. The country’s economic development is great, but more importantly, the Philippine people have an appetite for our products, et voilà.”
Stores Specialists Inc. is exclusive distributor of Longchamp in the Philippines. “Longchamp is an extremely successful brand not only in the Philippines, but worldwide,” said SSI president Anton Huang. “The natural evolution in showcasing the full collection and image of the brand should be within a freestanding boutique.”
“Le Pliage is a phenomenal success,” said Séverin. “By our estimation we have sold over 20 million pieces since it was launched, and it’s still a very popular item. Every season we have new and unique seasonal colors done in the spirit and theme of the current collection. We also have classic and permanent colors.”
Another Longchamp bag gaining a cult following is the Pliage’s pure leather iteration. “The popularity of the leather is going very fast,” said Séverin. “You have customers switching from nylon to leather—it’s a nice evolution. The Pliage nylon is classic, but the leather, which comes with a strap that you can wear crossbody, is a bit more cool.”
According to Séverin, the Pliage was designed with travel and functionality in mind. “Philippe Cassegrain, who designed the bag, was a very practical and chic person who was traveling a lot,” the Longchamp executive said. “He wanted to create a chic bag that was very convenient, light, practical, and functional. He was inspired by Japanese origami, hence the foldable concept. The only way to do this in a sophisticated way was to mix a very nice leather, which we use for the flap and handle, with an easy, solid, resistant, but also light and foldable fabric, which was nylon. That was 20 years ago, and it became widely successful.”
Séverin added, “It’s really accepted by a diverse range of women, from schoolgirls to very luxurious women. Our CEO says that it’s a bag that you will find in economy all the way to business class.”
Given the nylon tote’s worldwide popularity, Séverin explained that producing it required skill and speed. “We have to produce it very fast, while making sure of the quality—every single bag has to be one hundred percent perfect.” Guests who visit Longchamp’s atelier can see themselves how it’s done. “You will see it’s done naturally with a lot of experience and expertise.” It’s hard to believe, but according to Séverin, it only takes less than 15 minutes for a craftsman to produce one Pliage bag.
Séverin said that due to space constraints, the Makati boutique sells only handbags and accessories for now, unlike other boutiques abroad that also stock ready-to-wear and shoes.
Pliage fans will be pleased to know that the boutique also has the Pliage personalization service, where you can mix and match nylon colors and have your name embroidered on the nylon or embossed on the leather flap. All personalization is still done in France, so expect at least a month’s wait for production and shipping.
Longchamp is located at level 1 Greenbelt 5. Show off your collection on Instagram by using the hashtag #longchampph.