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Longchamp, London

Longchamp’s London flagship is the jewel in the French brand’s retail crown.

Elegant and impressive at number 229 Regent Street, Longchamp’s latest and largest European retail venture is the ultimate luxury showcase for the French lifestyle brand.

The 3,229 sq ft store, which opened on September 14 during London Fashion Week, has an expansive frontage on one of the capital’s busiest shopping streets. Dubbed ‘La Maison in Motion’ by Longchamp, the dark narrow staircase of the previous tenant, Quiksilver, has been replaced with a light-filled entrance that invites shoppers to browse Longchamp’s full collection, on display as a whole for the first time in the UK.

Colours are delicate and neutral throughout the interior, which uses natural and reflective materials. Embossed leather, wood, frosted and engraved mirrors, shiny and matt patterns on walls and furniture create contrast and interest. The centrepiece of the two-storey 20th-century building is a curved staircase and floating mezzanine.

The interior, designed by Longchamp’s in-house team, is divided according to collections. The ground floor is filled with the vibrant colours and shapes of the brand’s iconic women’s handbag collection, which retails from £110 to £620 and includes the Balzane, Légende, LM Cuir, Gatsby, Cosmos and Gloucester styles. Beneath the mezzanine Longchamp’s women’s ready-to-wear clothing (£155 to £1,925) is positioned alongside the latest product line, footwear, which retails from £170 to £485. Styles range from leather boots to brogues, with selected pieces available in 10 shades to complement the rest of the brand’s accessories collections.

The floating mezzanine is dedicated to Longchamp’s most popular bag, Le Pliage. Opposite a wall of the nylon bags in a rainbow pattern is a display of leather interpretations of the folding handbag, called Le Pliage Cuir. Longchamp launched its signature canvas bag 20 years ago and has sold more than 16 million.

The brand claims it is the world’s best-selling handbag. Along with the leather version, Le Pliage made a “significant” contribution to total group sales of €454m [£384m] in 2012.

The first floor has a more muted mood, with a brown tiled floor for the home of the men’s and luggage collections. This has brought together for the first time the full men’s accessories collection, which retails from £145 to £640. Paul Lorraine, the newly appointed UK general manager for Longchamp, told Drapers the reaction to the men’s range has been “phenomenal”, with many wholesale clients picking up specific styles after seeing the impressive display.

Adding an element of modernity to the interior, London art trio Troika and French artists Trafik were commissioned to create striking installations. Troika’s Homograph, featuring constantly moving yellow aluminium plates suspended from a series of spurs, hangs above the mezzanine.

The team at Trafik created four series of striking graphic images shown on vertical screens at the heart of the store.

They use elements of the brand, including the Longchamp logo, weaving, animals and the world, underlining the house’s global appeal, use of natural materials and craftsmanship.

Longchamp was founded in Paris in 1948 by Jean Cassegrain and is still owned and managed by the Cassegrain family. Initially specialising in leather-covered smoking pipes, it expanded into small leather goods in 1955 and luggage and handbags in the 1970s. It was first sold in London in the 1950s and today there are also Longchamp stores on New Bond Street and in Westfield London, as well as shop-in-shops in Harrods, Selfridges and John Lewis.

After just four weeks the Regent Street store is already “smashing” targets. Increasing shopfloor staff numbers and adding additional deliveries are among the tweaks Lorraine has implemented.

“Products have been selling consistently well across the three floors, with leather handbags in particular driving sales,” he says. “The leather offer hasn’t yet reached its full potential and is an area of growth for the label.”

Lorraine is “extremely confident” the store will build on this trade in the run-up to Christmas. “We have the right location, environment, product and volume. The flagship store is a window into the brand; it embodies everything Longchamp is about,” he says.

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