PARIS — Sequoia, the French contemporary leather goods brand that took its name from one of the planet’s oldest tree species, is spreading its roots in the U.S.
The firm, which will fete its 20th anniversary here today and boasts accessories designer Pierre Hardy at its creative helm, has opened an American subsidiary based in Southern California’s Newport Beach.
Daniel Sisso, president, said the firm’s consistent sell-through with existing clients in the U.S., despite no advertising and restricted visibility, motivated the push. Sequoia is distributed in a handful of stores there, such as Takashimaya and Lord & Taylor in New York.
Crisis periods, according to Sisso, represent prime opportunities for midrange fashion brands to raise their profiles in unconquered territories.
“Right now, distributors there are having to adapt their buying strategy and reassess their brand breakdown, between luxury and affordable brands, old and new ones. It’s a strong growth market for us,” he said. “From experience, we always tend to do well during [economic downturns], as many women want accessories with status, quality and design, but that are affordable. Being a French brand also helps.”
Prices for the house’s bags range from $100 for a fabric bag to around $600 for a fake-crocodile leather bag.
A former L’Oréal marketing executive, Sisso founded the brand with his wife, Florence, in 1988, when bags were regarded as functional objects.
“We wanted a different positioning for bags with a strong identity,” said Sisso, who brainstormed for two years with Hardy on ways to shake up the category. “I was very much inspired by what Swatch had achieved at a time when people would buy one watch for life, used to simply tell the time. They demonstrated that it could be a fashion accessory.”
The result, a line of colorful, PVC-coated cotton canvas designs carrying Sequoia’s distinctive silver ring hardware, was an instant hit with local stores.
More lines were added, in a range of fabrics, but it was the opening of the brand’s first flagship, 10 years later in Saint Germain, according to Sisso, that really landed it on the map.
Today, the brand counts seven stores and 1,500 wholesale doors internationally. Revenues rose 22 percent in 2007 to 18 million euros, or around $24.7 million at average exchange rates, and are expected to rise 15 percent this year.
With France Sequoia’s leading market, followed by Japan, the firm’s export business has grown 40 percent annually since the arrival of managing director Denis Capron three years ago. Distribution plans are being finalized for the Middle East and China, while further European expansion is also in the cards, with a Sequoia store due to open next year in Milan.
Sequoia’s staying power, its founders believe, comes from having resisted pandering to the “It” bag rat race, focusing instead on discreetly edgy bag lines in keeping with the brand’s ethos, based on elegant cut and quality fabrics. Leather styles are the current bestsellers.
“We don’t surf trends, we succeed by smelling what is in the air, more from the design and art worlds,” said Florence Sisso, adding that their largely model-free ad campaigns have also always been more about a way of living rather than an extension of the celebrity circus. “Having a picture of Kate Moss naked with a bag between her legs might be good for business, but we could never do that.”
@chanel and @pharrell dropped what’s being dubbed as the world’s most exclusive sneakers yesterday. The Adidas Originals NMD Hu, which Williams designed in collaboration with Chanel and @adidasoriginals, has a waiting list of over 120K people who pre-registered online at chanelatcolette.fr –– and only 500 pairs are on sale. The singer predicted the resale value of the shoes could reach $40K. Read the full interview on WWD.com. Link in bio. #wwdfashion (📷: Dominique Maître)
@imanshumpert is diving deeper into his creative endeavors and relaunching his clothing line, Post 90s, and is helping to raise money for the hurricane victims in St. Maarten with a jersey he’s designed with his brother. The Cleveland Cavaliers player talked to WWD about kneeling during the national anthem, working with fashion brands and how he wants to be more than an @nba player. Read the interview on WWD.com #wwdfashion (📷: George Chinese)
Not only does #TheProfit return to CNBC tonight, but @marcuslemonis has launched @shopmarcus, a new shopping and lifestyle retail experience in Aspen and Chicago, with more locations to come. The retail stores offer in-store stylists and a variety of contemporary womenswear selections.
“It’s life, I’m going to face it,” @mingxi11 sighed. “I fell, but you know, I think the most important thing is that I get back up. I had the love, the help from my sister — the girl next to me Gizele [Oliveira] — she’s so nice. When I went backstage everybody was trying to comfort me like ‘Oh Ming, it’s OK.’ I’m really, really touched. I think it’s them who gave me the courage to go back on stage for the finale,” Xi told WWD of her fall at the @victoriassecret fashion show. (📷: David Fisher) #wwdfashion #vsfashionshow #victoriassecret
@louisvuitton tapped @therealpeterlindbergh for its latest city-centric photo book, which is part of a series called Fashion Eye. The primarily black and white book captures the spirit of Berlin in 57 images shot between 1989 and 2019. “Berlin is an inspiration for me, more than a city. I mean @millajovovich is simply Berlin!” said Lindbergh. #wwdfashion
“You know, I think audiences expect a certain performance so I have to deliver to them what they’re expecting to a certain degree. But I’m also a different actor and a different person, I have my own spin on the character,” says @noahegalvin of his takeover of the leading role in “Dear Evan Hansen” following the departure of @bensplatt, who originated the role. Read WWD’s interview with the 23-year-old actor on WWD.com #wwdeye (📷: @jilliansollazzo)
For pre-fall 2018, @etro created richly-colored wonderland, using tapestries, textiles and wallpapers from the Eastern world at large. The line featured floral and graphic prints and jacquard motifs, like this two-piece look featured here. #wwdfashion (📷: Giovanna Pavesi)
@kith is moving into children’s. The men’s and women’s streetwear brand has launched Kidset, a Kith kids line located in New York at 64 Bleecker Street. The line includes mini versions of staple Kith pieces like the Astor bomber jacket and the Kith box logo sweatshirts, along with a wall that can display up to 120 pairs of shoes from @adidas, @newbalance, @timberland and more. #wwdfashion
“I just wanted to create this fully rounded character, but I do think what excited me most was just the opportunity to give a group of people representation that I feel needs it. I like to do characters in projects that stand for something and Karolina definitely does, so that was really exciting to me,” @ginnygardner says of her new role in @hulu’s “The Runaways.” Gardner plays Karolina Dean, a queer superhero, which is a rarity for @marvel. Read more about Gardner’s character on WWD.com #wwdeye (📷: @dandoperalski)