When Florence-born Mariasole Cecchi moved to Paris in her twenties to pursue a law degree, she found herself taking creative solace in upcycling handbags. She glued Lego bricks onto an old purse spelling out the word ‘LOVE’, and instantly discovered her true calling – designing whimsical statement bags with universal appeal. “It transformed the bag into something personal and unique,” she tells ORDRE. “That small act of upcycling sparked my intrigue into designing handbags.”
Yet her 90 degree pivot to accessories was no coincidence: growing up, she would accompany her mother on her business trips as a fashion buyer, acclimatising to the world of luxury fashion from a young age. This upbringing inevitably laid down solid foundations for Cecchi’s strong business acumen, and in 2013, she founded Les Petits Joueurs (LPJ) – French for The Little Players – in Florence alongside her brother, Andrea Cecchi.
“As a luxury accessory brand there is an endless spectrum of possibilities.”
Today, the brand’s diamante-encrusted silk pouches and pop culture-inspired bucket bags have become trusted arm candy for influencers and A-listers alike, including Bella Hadid and Amal Clooney who are often snapped wearing the brand’s playful styles to weekend brunch. And in just six years, LPJ has steadily spread its presence to over 200 leading retailers worldwide including Saks Fifth Avenue, Browns, and 10 Corso Como.
To date, its debut handbag style is still its top sell-through. “Our debut Baby Alex Love bag remains our all time must-have, alongside our Pixie bag, and the lustrous evening Fringy Crystal bag,” the designer reveals. For their latest SS’20 collection, she introduced new silhouettes inspired by ‘90s nostalgia, complete with exotic animal prints, disco ball mirror effects and crystals elements. They have seen an “astonishing positive response in sales,” she says, adding “handbags are LPJ’s key category, contributing to a revenue percentage growth of 23 percent season on season.”
Riding on the success of its bags, the label launched a line of footwear in January, embodying its signature quirky DNA. According to creative director, the move was a natural next step. “Shoes are emotional statement pieces, which accompany a woman from day to night; they deserve to stand out,” she explains. And in just 10 short months, the line’s hero style – the sleek satin Hoya heels, elevated by asymmetric crystal-embellished straps – is selling-out fast.
But how exactly has LPJ built such a strong cult following? Cecchi puts the label’s rapid growth down to establishing meaningful connections in the industry early on: “From the beginning, we understood the importance of building solid relationships with key industry figures. If you want your products to be seen, first you have to create a connection with the market, and only then can you communicate and engage properly with your consumer.”
“First you have to create a connection with the market and only then can you communicate and engage properly with your consumer.”
Aside from strategic networking, the creative director notes that the power of Instagram also helped the brand’s organic growth. Today it’s still an important marketing strategy. “Instagram has been the brand’s key platform since its launch, driving the highest percentage of consumers to our e-commerce platform, and generating the most intense level of engagement,” she explains, adding that it has also helped build a community around the brand, allowing them to share brand insights with consumers in a more authentic way.
In terms of its retail strategy, the Middle East and the US are currently the label's biggest markets, thanks to celebrities and influencers boosting brand visibility; understandably, Cecchi is now keen to grow the brand’s Asian stockists. She is quick to note, however, that this needs to be approached with caution: “Our ultimate aim is to reach and satisfy international markets, but delivering according to the needs and desires of different cultures and markets takes time to perfect.”
Unsurprisingly, this patient approach has clearly worked for Cecchi so far; it’s on the verge of launching an exclusive capsule collection with arguably the world's most famous luxury retailer, Harrods. And perhaps motivated by this milestone collaboration, she enthusiastically alludes to a potential expansion into jewellery or ready-to-wear, although nothing is set in stone just yet. “As a luxury accessory brand, there is an endless spectrum of possibilities,” the designer reflects optimistically. Indeed for LPJ, the future looks bright.