LONDON — Joseph, the fashion retailer that’s been selling designer labels to Londoners since 1972, is getting a long-awaited facelift, and building its wholesale and retail businesses under new chief executive officer Sara Ferrero.
Ferrero, formerly ceo at Furla, who joined the company last year, has begun revamping stores, introducing edgy new designers and giving the Joseph private label collection –—which counts Selfridges, Harvey Nichols and Le Bon Marché among its stockists — a new lease on life.
Alain Snege, a former buyer at Colette, has also joined as artistic director and head of buying, with the job of giving a new direction to the company’s 28 freestanding stores worldwide.
“We want to reinterpret the role of Joseph and be a protagonist in fashion with a strong point of view,” said Ferrero. She said she hoped to restore Joseph’s reputation as a “fashion curator,” first laid by its founder, Joseph Ettedgui, who sold his share in the company in 2005. Joseph is now owned by Onward Kashiyama Co.
“I think that’s relevant, especially in a moment like this, when the market is a little bit flat and everyone is afraid of everything,” she said.
The label’s fall collection — which Ferrero describes as “not classics, but fashion for every day” — puts a focus on luxurious fabrics worked into youthful silhouettes.
“I think people are looking for new ideas, new things with a little bit of excitement, but still...wearable,” said Ferrero. Pieces in the fall collection include a leopard-print rabbit-fur car coat, a chocolate leather bomber jacket with fox-fur lining, a merino sheepskin tunic dress and a boyish, gray Lurex tweed car coat, all styled with pieces such as leather leggings and cropped jodhpurs.
“We are going into a feeling of investment pieces, where something is relevant for today and in the next year,” said Ferrero. Prices range from 70 pounds, or $96, for a cotton T-shirt to 2,900 pounds, or $3,997, for a fur coat.
Ferrero said the line’s prices are designed to be about 30 to 40 percent less expensive than the designer brands the Joseph stores carry. She declined to give sales projections for the fall collection.
“We are...targeting specialty stores around the world and cutting down on a couple of places where our product shouldn’t be,” said Ferrero. “We are really working on building [the label] in the U.S. We want to be in the top of the top [specialty stores].” New U.S. stockists for the label for fall include Bloomingdale’s in New York and Ron Herman in Los Angeles.
Meanwhile, the label’s own stores are being updated. Joseph’s Westbourne Grove unit in London relaunched earlier this year and carries an edgy mix of labels, including Haider Ackermann, Bess, Raquel Allegra and VPL.
Each store’s brand mix — around a third of which will be made up of Joseph’s own label pieces — will be tailored to its location. While the brand’s Westbourne Grove store will house younger, influential designers, the label’s Fulham Road store will carry pieces by more established designers such as Prada, Stella McCartney and Alexander McQueen.
Designers have also made pieces exclusive to Joseph — for fall, Alonzo Ester has created khakis studded with rhinestones, while for spring, denim brand Seven For All Mankind and footwear designer LD Tuttle will launch lines for Joseph.
Most recently, the brand’s Bond Street store in London reopened in March, after a design overhaul by Tom Dixon at Design Research Studio, and carries labels including Alexander Wang, Golden Goose and the T-shirt collection Rotter and Friends.
Joseph’s Avenue Montaigne store in Paris is operating as a guerrilla store before it undergoes a redesign, and now carries labels including Maison Martin Margiela, Raquel Allegra and David Szeto.
The ready-to-wear collection will continue to evolve as well. Louise Trotter, formerly creative director of the British label Jigsaw, has recently joined Joseph as creative director. Trotter, whose influence at Joseph will be seen from the label’s upcoming spring collections, served as senior vice president, creative director of H Hilfiger before she joined Jigsaw.
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