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How French Heritage Labels Are Harnessing the Power of Streetwear

Paris has arguably one of the coolest streetwear scenes. For starters, there’s the recently launched “streetail” hub Nous. It has already drawn pop-ups from the likes of Migos and Kendrick Lamar. Co-founders Marvin Dein and Sebastien Chapelle can command sneaker exclusives and limited editions from Puma and New Balance. They were, respectively, sneaker and tech directors at Sarah Andelman’s Colette.

For further proof, just check out the ‘grams of Parisian model influencers like Ruddy Trobrillant and Phiné N’Djoli.

But with all the OAMCs, Stampds and Nasaseasons in the mix, what of France’s homegrown heritage sportswear labels?

The hysteria generated by fall ’17’s Louis Vuitton Homme x Supreme collaboration marked a shift in mentality. Why compete when it makes more sense to join forces?

While the Vuitton collab may have hogged the headlines, heritage French sports label Lacoste’s first partnership with Supreme, conceived in a similar timeframe, was less shouty and expensive but emminently bankable. The tracksuit-geared capsule dropped March last year scored Lacoste street cred in spades and brought Supreme a new audience to boot.

Lacoste x Supreme
Lacoste x Supreme
CREDIT: Courtesy

The 2.0 2018 version — this time all velour, additional accessories and attitude — launched last month and is already long gone. However, with the recent departure of creative director Felipe Oliveira Baptista, who spearheaded the partnership, we’ll just have to wait and see what the future holds. Group CEO Thierry Guibert has promised “a new organization of the creative direction of the brand,” so here’s hoping Supreme will remain part of the picture.

Lacoste x Supreme
Lacoste x Supreme
CREDIT: Courtesy

Latest French classic to embrace the street is Longchamp. In addition to agressive expansion on both sides of the Atlantic — it feted flagships in both New York and London this week, with the Fifth Avenue store launch in NYC attended by Kendall Jenner, et al. — there is also a cutting-edge collab with Shayne Oliver, the founder of cult menswear label Hood by Air.

“I like to challenge myself and do things that are unconventional, I think that can be very liberating. I liked how this project had a strong sense of heritage and a different perspective that was based on people’s everyday lives,” he said. “For me, Longchamp is part of the, dare I say, streetwear, because a lot of people own Longchamp bags.”

Longchamp x Shayne Oliver
Longchamp x Shayne Oliver
CREDIT: Courtesy

Oliver’s take feels intelligent and legitimate, tapping into a real synchronicity between his aesthetic and that of Longchamp.

Travel-themed accessories and ready-to-wear play on Longchamp’s heritage, subverting its classic Le Pliage sac with some next-level double bagging. Said sac also insinuated itself into ready-to-wear and footwear alike with handles applied to T-shirts, jackets and even the backs of high heeled pumps, recalling the loops on sneakers.

The combination of Longchamp graphics and this more physical manifestation that plays both to streetwear’s logo culture and the label’s heritage in craftsmanship is a mark of the collaboration’s success. “It is branded in a way that mixes the new idea of branding and the old idea of branding,” he said.

Longchamp creative director Sophie Delafontaine agrees. “Mixing our points of view created a chemistry that was very energizing,” she said. “I think that this collaboration shows how we can stretch Longchamp and bring a radical new twist to what we do.”

Longchamp x Shayne Oliver
Longchamp x Shayne Oliver
CREDIT: Courtesy

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