After 35 years of designing shoes, Chinese Laundry is launching a re-branding program that will update its logo, storefront, product style and web site.
The brand drew inspiration from its home base of Los Angeles, according to Stewart Goldman, executive vice president of Cels Enterprises Inc., parent of the $100 million Chinese Laundry.
“We’re lucky. We have one of the best cities on earth at our back door,” said Goldman. “Why not use it for photo shoots, inspiration and events?”
Chinese Laundry is slated to launch its new campaign and updated product in February, and will host parties in Los Angeles and New York.
Brand relevance among Millennials was a key factor in deciding to re-brand.
The company has kept its relevance with the audience it served in the Nineties and early Aughts, but realized it wasn’t connecting with the next generation. To achieve this, the game plan is to increase Chinese Laundry’s presence and influence in social media and also redesign its web site.
“During our strategy work, we paid attention to where Millennials spend their time — on Youtube, on Instagram and Snapchat,” Goldman said. “We’ve earmarked new budgets to dedicate to digital marketing, especially on Youtube and Instagram. She’s spending her time there; we should be there, too. Factoring in the re-brand cost, planned media campaigns, and other projects that are in the pipeline for 2017, we’ll be spending over $10 million in marketing across our brands over the next 18 months.
“We looked at the Millennial customer and designed for her, using quality materials where appropriate and keeping in mind where her ability is to afford fashion product,” he added. “We also did extensive research and found out Millennials are willing to pay for quality and comfort in footwear. They’re less concerned with the price and more conscious of the construction, materials and functionality of the shoe. They look at their footwear purchases as an investment, so we are building product where you immediately see and feel the quality of the shoe.”
The line is designed by Robert Goldman, father of Stewart.
Chinese Laundry’s sandals run from $60 to $100, shoes are $70 to $140, with booties and boots ranging from $90 to $170. The brand is carried at Nordstorm, Macy’s, Amazon and Zappos, among others.
With traffic decreasing in shopping malls, the company opted to try pop-up stores for the next 18 months to track where the brand would be most successful. Chinese Laundry is also toying with the idea of mobile vans that can appear at festivals.
“No idea is too crazy,” he added.
Goldman said another component of the re-branding is Chinese Laundry’s urgency to strengthen itself as a global brand.
“One of our loftiest goals of the re-brand includes international expansion. It’s important for us to be a global brand. The foundation is being built for rapid growth. Right now, we’re putting all the infrastructure in place to make sure we’re ready to flip the switch when the orders start rolling in from around the globe.
“We have built an international platform that we are rolling out for distribution in strategic countries with stores in each country along with strategic licensing partners to create a global brand presence,” he said.
Chinese Laundry partnered with the creative agency Toth+Co. to help facilitate the re-branding. Katie Henry, Chinese Laundry’s director of marketing, spearheaded most of the process with the agency. Toth+Co. did focus studies, and created solid strategy around the marketing voice. Henry got feedback from each department; the brand wanted the project to be a group effort between the internal team and the agency. Goldman said, “During the entire process, we kept a savvy, fun, woman top-of-mind — defining her likes, dislikes and habits also made it easier to speak to her. We know her; we like her; we’re best friends.”