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GENDER BENDING: Whoever said Longchamp was a women’s brand? The Parisian label, founded in 1948, is putting a greater focus on its masculine roots and has set the opening of its first men’s store for October this year, right opposite its flagship on Rue Saint-Honoré.

“The house of Longchamp started in a masculine universe,” creative director Sophie Delafontaine, granddaughter of the label’s founder Jean Cassegrain, explained at the brand’s first men’s presentation on Thursday.

“It was originally a tobacconist, and my grandfather started working with leather by making leather-clad pipes before developing a range of goods around the smoking world, then desk items and men’s leather goods. Luggage came next in the late Sixties and early Seventies, and the first women’s bag only launched at the end of the Seventies,” Delafontaine said. “From then on, the women’s business became the focus.

“We really wanted to put the focus back on men,” she continued. “We have been reworking the men’s collections for the past few seasons.” The brand has also been working on dedicating spaces to men’s lines in its boutiques around the world, said Delafontaine.

The spring 2017 collection for men includes two new lines, a minimalist range in smooth calfskin and another in grained taurillon leather. More sporty items include a backpack made from Kudu antelope suede and updated canvas designs with pops of color, one of the house’s signatures in its women’s collections.

“We’ve added lots of color, which was less the case in the men’s designs before, to add a touch of fantasy,” Delafontaine said.

There will also be an exclusive line for the new men’s boutique inspired by Delafontaine’s grandfather’s designs from the Seventies.

Longchamp’s Paris flagship is undergoing renovations and will reopen in August in an expanded space of nearly 6,000 square feet, up from 2,700. It will include a whole floor for the brand’s ready-to-wear and footwear lines.

Across the road, more than 2,000 square feet will be dedicated to men’s collections, with an offer including gloves, scarves, belts and men’s shoes, which the brand is introducing this fall, as well as its broader leather goods offer.

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