French leather and luxury goods purveyor Longchamp was founded in 1948 by Jean Cassegrain. Today, it owns more than 300 stores globally. The house famous for its travel bags has recently launched its first flagship store in India at DLF Emporio, New Delhi. Pallavi Rebbapragada spoke to the brand’s CEO Jean Cassegrain, CEO, Longchamp, who was in India for the launch. Excerpts from the conversation:
Why is this the right time for you to be in India?
Right now is always the right time, they say. But philosophy aside, we should have been here a lot earlier. We had been eyeing the Indian market for years but it took time to get space in a place like Emporio. Luxury spaces in India are so few and we have to compete with big labels (Fendi, Gucci, Dior, Prada) that have secured a place, even in people’s idea of great taste.
Indian demands familiarity. How do you plan on competing with houses like Louis Vuitton and Dior, which the Indian consumer is already in awe of?
Yes, I agree. For people to willingly splurge on a brand and make it theirs, they need to first feel pride in owning that product. Right now, we have a loyal Indian customer base in London, Dubai and Singapore. Our ethos is the quality of our product and that can earn us customers anywhere. From prim and proper stitching to carefully chosen fabrics and the easy upkeep of them, quality is something that you can’t assess standing in a store. It takes years and years to gain that trust and our loyal customers who come back to us bear testimony to that fact. That’s how we will compete with any brand that’s been around in the Indian market.
Who are the stars enjoying the spotlights of your store?
Oh yes, there are very many. The Le Pliage is an iconic nylon folding bag that’s also available in lamb skin. It’s water-resistant and is available in many colours. The Pénélope bag is made from young Spanish bull skin. It’s soft. You have to touch it really to know what I’m talking about. The Roseau Reversible is a dual-coloured shoulder tote bag that can be turned inside out for a new colour and feel.
How do you plan on taking your Indian invasion further with DOIT Retail Brands, your local partner?
Only a homegrown company can understand the cultural complexity of a market, which includes taste and price point. Radha Kapur’s Do It Creations India runs the store, manages communications and places the orders. Going forward, we’d like to see another one of our stores in Mumbai’s Palladium Mall.