How Longchamp considers the sustainable aspect of its artisanal creations

For Longchamp President Jean Cassegrain, durability and sustainability go hand in hand.

When it comes to creating sustainable products, there is no “magic material” that solves all the challenges of reducing their impact on the environment.

“Sustainability is very much associated with innovation, and people might expect some magical new material or something to solve everything,” Cassegrain says in an interview at the brand’s Suria KLCC store in Kuala Lumpur.

“I always tell our team that the number one thing we can do for the environment is to make products that last a long time, and I think the sustainability aspect is often overlooked or not valued enough.”

The main objective of President Jean Cassegrain is sustainability because it goes hand in hand with sustainability. Photo: Longchamp“I think that’s really the number one sustainability criteria. You might be making a bag out of some “magical” material, but if it only gives you six months of use and then you have to dispose of it, you can’t say it’s durable “, he explains.

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For the luxury family business based in Paris, France, the first priority is quality.

“For us, quality and durability are two sides of the same coin,” says Cassegrain, whose grandfather founded the company in 1948.

“The person within our organization who is the director of sustainability is also the director of quality, because we feel the two are very closely linked,” he explains, adding with a laugh, “It’s very old-fashioned and not very glamorous.”

Innovation is their second axis, through testing, optimization and the development of new projects, their efforts are directed towards the search for processes and raw materials to minimize the ecological impact of products.

For the brand’s iconic Le Pliage bag – an item coveted by everyone from teenagers and students to jet-set executives to Cassegrain itself for everyday wear and travel – Longchamp staff developed a new canvas, both sides of which are made of recycled polyester derived from plastic waste (mainly recycled bottles).

“By the end of next year, all the canvases we use will be made from recycled fibres,” says Cassegrain, adding that they use recycled polyamide, polyester, linen and cotton.

“We chose to go this route for several reasons, the main reason is that there is no difference in quality, no one in our team can differentiate a bag made from recycled nylon from one made from virgin nylon. Durability going to be exactly the same, but the carbon footprint is not the same,” he says, adding that for a product that feels and looks the same as a product that is not recycled, the carbon footprint carbon is 20% lower for the recycled product.

The brand’s latest product line, Le Pliage Re-Play, uses end-of-the-roll fabric, which is additional fabric from previous collections, repurposed to create entirely new products.

“The concept can be compared to the chef in the kitchen who opens the fridge and his challenge is to make the best possible dish with everything he has,” quips Cassegrain. “It’s not just about using leftover materials, but also about using them in new, creative and interesting ways.

The Le Pliage Re-Play range consists of three formats – a spacious vertical tote, a small shoulder bag and a trendy belt bag – each combining two different colors of end-of-roll nylon canvas with a third color of leather trim. Russian.

These bags are available in nine different color combinations, available in varying quantities in boutiques around the world.

The collection is literally a limited edition, because once the stocks of canvas and leather have run out, these bags can no longer be reproduced.

The Le Pliage Re-Play line (in the photo, the tote) uses fabric at the end of the roll.  Photo: LongchampThe Le Pliage Re-Play line (in the photo, the tote) uses fabric at the end of the roll. Photo: Longchamp

“It might be a bit old-fashioned, it’s not rocket science. It works well and a lot of it is based on common sense and also on the fact that we are manufacturers, that we are craftsmen. It gives us a different approach because we haven’t lost touch with what it means to make products.

“We see the waste, we see the remains of fabrics, the impact we have is perhaps more concrete than if we were content to move products from one logistics platform to another, it is not abstract , that’s what we do, and that’s what we’ve been doing. We look at sustainability in a way that’s perhaps more concrete and practical than other brands.”

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Whether it’s finding alternative ways to reduce their environmental impact in manufacturing (using recycled materials made from plastic bottles, fishing nets and stockings) and logistics (minimizing air shipments and using primarily maritime expeditions), Cassegrain himself, on a personal level, practices sustainability in his daily life. life.

“I still have a car but I don’t use it anymore, I use it maybe twice a month,” he says. “I go to the office either by bike or by metro. My children also push me to live in a more sustainable way, as a company too, when there is the possibility of traveling by train, we take the train instead of flying,” he explains. “We are trying to move in the right direction.”

And when they have to fly somewhere, Cassegrain jokes, “No private jets.”

Marjorie N. McClure