Nadia el Dasher talks to Jean Cassegrain, the chief executive of the French fashion house Longchamp and the grandson of the founder, who was recently in Dubai to unveil his territory-specific, limited-edition Dubai bag.
How did your upbringing in a family so involved in fashion affect you growing up?
When the time came to choose a profession, I went naturally into the family business. Being around the products made us all product-oriented. The product is at the core of our everyday life, we are always talking about it, trying to improve, trying to bring new ideas.
What is it like working with family?
It's nice! You'd be surprised.
Did you feel pressure being with family at work?
No I think it's OK, we manage well. We each have separate responsibilities so we each have our areas that we work on. My father is the chairman and my mother is in charge of our European retail stores, my sister is our artistic director and my brother lives in New York and oversees our American stores.
What changes did you make when you started as the chief executive?
There is not one particular day when I started as chief executive. I started working at the company in 1991 and I've done a number of things since - now I have the label of chief executive but it's been a very gradual process. As a company, we don't like big changes.
What brought about the idea of the Dubai bag?
Globalisation means that you have the same products around the world and sometimes, as a customer, you get a little bit fed up with that, it takes away the joy of travelling, so we try to have small differences in the shops and products so we're not exactly alike in every single store around the world.
Has there been a big change in the way women approach fashion and luxury accessories?
It has changed very much actually and it made us change as well. Twenty years ago, women needed a handbag to be convenient, so they were looking at bags in a utilitarian way. The fashion element was only 10 per cent and the convenience was 90 per cent - now it's almost the reverse; the handbag is at the forefront of fashion.
What was the best advice you ever received?
One of my father's philosophies is to try new things and not be afraid that it's not going to work. We launch a lot of new products every season, most of them fail - which is good - because it's part of the process.