For Longchamp CEO Jean Cassegrain, style knows no age

OCTOBER 27, 2022

Box-trot XS crossbody bag, Le Pliage XS Xtra, Roseau XS bucket bag — @LONGCHAMP INSTAGRAM
Box-trot XS crossbody bag, Le Pliage XS Xtra, Roseau XS bucket bag — @LONGCHAMP INSTAGRAM

Maybe you are 60 years old but you don’t want to dress like a 60-year-old. And maybe you are 20, but you’re still very conservative,” Longchamp CEO Jean Cassegrain told Lifestyle on a recent “long overdue” visit to Manila. “Nowadays, age is becoming less meaningful.”

Since last year, tiny bag-obsessed TikTokers have turned their attention to the pouch version of Longchamp’s 31-year-old Le Pliage, adding a strap to what was supposed to be a beauty essentials container and converting it into a wearable, stylable mini tote.

The trend seems to have created a spike in the French luxury brand’s sales, and an unintended bridge to the millennial–Gen Z divide. In fact, Rustan Commercial Corp. president Donnie Tantoco revealed that at Rustan’s, the local partner of Longchamp, the combined millennial and Gen Z market has breached 53 percent when it only comprised a third of their customer base five years ago.

“You cannot manufacture something like that,” Cassegrain said.

But targeting certain demographics is not their goal nor their job. “We are not a marketing company, we are a product company,” he said. “We’re trying to do a good job by delivering a quality product—a product that you will feel like wearing and carrying every day.”

READ: Longchamp makes New York debut to celebrate 70 years

Ultimately, Cassegrain said their collection is designed with the Parisian woman in mind, although that doesn’t just refer to the woman in Paris, but anybody who embodies her special way of dressing and behaving.


The origami-inspired carryall continues to appeal to clients all over the world and across demographics. “It’s purchased by girls who are 14, 15 years old to go to school, and also by their elder sister, their mother, their grandmother and also their father,” said Cassegrain, who revealed that he himself uses a Le Pliage tote. “It’s a product that’s very universal and can appeal to anybody. What we learned is that, it’s not a matter of age. It’s more a matter of style, of values, of what you aspire to.”

This mindset might just be what’s keeping Longchamp timeless. However, Cassegrain clarified that timeless does not mean unchanging. “We are changing all the time. We are renewing all the time. We are introducing new ideas all the time. But we hope that with these ideas, these new products, you will feel like wearing them for a long time, that they will remain current and wearable today.”

Jean Cassegrain

Throughout its 76-year history, Longchamp has managed to keep customers interested and excited. The brand has changed a lot since it was founded in 1948 by Cassegrain’s grandfather and namesake.

From its beginnings as a maker of men’s pipes for smoking, the company now manufactures bags, accessories, shoes and ready-to-wear. It introduced the use of recycled fabrics in 2019 and by 2022 has fully transitioned their entire Le Pliage line from using virgin polyamide to recycled polyamide.

“But there are also some things that did not change and maybe should not change,” Cassegrain said. “One of these things is quality.”

Compared to some brands that do not actually make their own products, Longchamp prides itself in being a manufacturer of its own products. “That is something that is very much part of our DNA… So that’s something we don’t want to change.”

Their passion for leather also endures. “Leather is a beautiful material, a material that we love, that has qualities that are very difficult to match, and we are very much into that,” he said.

Family business

Amid news of acquisition deals involving family-owned fashion firms, there’s no sign of this particular family letting go of Longchamp any time soon.

“We feel that there is still a lot that we can do for the family. It’s our mission to continue to develop the brand,” Cassegrain said. “At some point, if we decide that we cannot do better…then maybe we’ll change one day. But that is not the plan at all. We feel that we can take this company and this brand further.”

In fact, the family’s fourth generation has just recently joined the company, according to Cassegrain. “They can do other things if they want, but I think it’s quite exciting to be working for a family business, to have this opportunity to build the brand internationally and to create something meaningful.”

Rustan’s president Donnie Tantoco and Cassegrain
Rustan’s president Donnie Tantoco and Cassegrain

Tantoco can empathize, also belonging to a family-owned legacy brand that his grandparents founded. This common history makes Longchamp and Rustan’s all the more a perfect match.

“There’s so much stability in the relationship, and the quality of the relationship is very, very high,” Tantoco said. “That’s important because we’re both trying to be transformative today while still being very well-anchored in our DNA and our roots, and always trying to—beyond relevance—resonate with what’s going on with our market.”

Tantoco added that Rustan’s and Longchamp are able to balance continuity and change. “It’s been a wonderful journey. We know each other very well, and that’s something we can build on and continue. Even though (both companies are more than) 70 years old, we can still be a force of change and a force of good in the community and market that we’re part of.” INQ

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