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Longchamp Bets on Kate Moss' Boho Chic to Boost Sales

Kate Moss may have stepped away from her collaborative relationship with Topshop, but French accessories company Longchamp is convinced her designs will send their profits soaring. As such, the family-owned company is revving its marketing and sales engines. All signs point to success.

First, the goods

This is Moss' eighth season as the "face" of Longchamp (think those signature sloe eyes staring out from the page daring you not to buy the bag she's fondling). However, the 60+ year old Longchamp didn't just want Moss as its spokesmodel. The company brokered a deal to have her design an eponymous collection of "it" bags hoping to cash in on her boho chic aesthetic.

Moss' Gloucester design was an instant hit. Despite critics calling it "outrageously overpriced," the leather duffle became the best-selling leather bag for the year. Since then, the company enjoyed 23 percent sales growth for the year on sales north of $470 million at average exchange. Most notably, sales in the U.S. and Canada rose 37.5 percent.

Second, the media push

Forget static ads in magazines, Longchamps just launched an atmospheric two-minute digital ad campaign titled "Faraway" for the spring 2011 Kate Moss handbag line. Evocative of the bohemian decadence of 1960s and set in Morocco, Moss cavorts playfully through stark landscapes â€" all the better to set off the handbags that dangle so temptingly from her arm or rest lovingly beside her on a blanket under the sun. (Warning: video takes a long time to load, at least one full minute.)

The film showcases Kate Moss at her hippie chicest, and reminds us why she's become an icon to millions of devotees. But Longchamp isn't totally relying on "Moss appeal," as it were. The company cleverly added a contest component, tapping a collective of independent (and influential) fashion bloggers from across the globe. Users can peruse their trendy chronicles and vote for their favorite.

The winning tastemaker will create her own "faraway" photo reportage. And just like that, the venerable Longchamps leverages the 21st century style zeitgeist right at the source. It's a move that more fashion insiders are recognizing is essential to sales.

One potential pitfall

Moss has an open contract with Longchamp. At Topshop, the Moss line had an expiration date. That turned out to be a good thing as the model kept churning out slight variations on her favorite looks for 13 seasons. Let's hope she's got plenty more ideas up her belled sleeve before Longchamp's welcome wears out.

Image via Longchamp

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