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Identity Crisis: Longchamp Arrives in SoHo

Img_0849With much fanfare (and dreadful timing…Memorial Day weekend?) Longchamp, the venerable French leathergoods house has opened a dramatic new store on Spring Street. For those of you unfamiliar with them Longchamp had been the French version of what Coach was before it began its startling transformation in the 90’s; classic, reliable, well priced, a little dull. They have been quietly building a devoted following in the US through Saks and Neiman Marcus, mostly from their hugely popular nylon fold-up Pliage bags. Like Coach, the family owned company is now undergoing a fashion metamorphosis of its own heralded by the sprawling showplace it has opened on a second (?) floor in SoHo.
More after the jump

052206_23052306v_1 This location itself is something of a risk. It’s hard enough to get customers’ attention, but getting them to schlep up to the second floor requires real drawing power. To accomplish this, Longchamp has created a lavish staircase created of undulating panels with railings of metal and plexiglass that has the appearance of being draped from the rails. It’s quite a sight, and even Abercrombie clad teenagers have been stopping to gawk. Upstairs, the interior is punctuated by panels of maple that peel away to form display shelves.

052206_22 While the architecture is attracting teenagers, the products have not quite caught up to their spectacular setting. The merchandise has been updated with softer styles, more colors and younger silhouettes, that have been inspired by other popular collections, but the company has not yet achieved its own new identity despite hiring Kate Moss for a new ad campaign. That process is far from complete, but if the new store’s look is any indication, they have set the bar very high for themselves

Longchamp 132 Spring Street, SoHo

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