I knew something was up when model Emily di Donato was styled with ski goggles in the Oh! My Bike print ads for Longchamp bags, in which she and Coco Rocha pose merrily on bicycles on the streets of Paris. The ads, which appear in the thick September issues of leading fashion magazines, point to a video of the same name (below), which dropped last Thursday to coincide with Fashion’s Night Out.
Given the charm of the print ads, I expected the video, which is the centerpiece of a new marketing campaign that introduces the LM Cuir Tote, to reveal a glossy paean to Paris on two wheels.
Now that I’ve viewed it, I’d say the better choice of a title would be: Oy! My Bike.
In comparison with last year’s graceful — and widely shared — Phillip Lim Girls on Bikes fall fashion video, Longchamp’s offering is head-scratcher. The high-production-values action centers on overloading a tandem bicycle with luggage, wobbling around the cobbles, and ultimately settling on an “alternative” form of transportation. It’s all meant to be in good fun, of course, but to my eye, the director Blanca Li manages to dis the hottest form of urban transportation and make her stars look like, well, dorks, while “bagging” the Longchamp luggage, to boot.
It’s hardly fashion’s responsibility to promote city cycling in popular culture, but it often does so, admirably. (Maybe that’s because many stylists actually ride bicycles to work?) Given cycling’s popularity and the appreciation — even fetishization — of bicycles among fashion-loving women (Exhibit A: Pinterest), Longchamp seemingly misses out on an opportunity to associate itself meaningfully with a beneficial trend in urban living. In contrast, one wonders: What’s the upside of a “Ski Paris” message?