LONDON — The German luxury label Escada is looking to fine-tune its image and become a more “modern” brand, grow its accessories offer and freshen up its look as it unveiled a new store concept on Sloane Street.
Chief executive officer Iris Epple-Righi, who took up her post last year, said in an interview with WWD that she’s looking for newness across a variety of areas, although the company will always stay true to its heritage. She was in London to cut the ribbon on the Escada flagship, which has moved from Brompton Road a few miles east to Sloane Street, and to host a celebratory dinner at Daphne’s on Wednesday night.
“Escada is known for colorful, beautiful qualities and tailoring, but also known for fun. It was fun back in the Nineties and we want to get that element back. Accessories is one of our key growth initiatives because of our being a luxury brand. So far, we have been very focused on ready-to-wear so we now want to explore accessories.”
Located at number 129, the 1,400-square-foot boutique sits opposite Chloé and next to Smythson and Red Valentino on Sloane Square at the end of the long street. It is smaller than the one on Brompton and on one level. Epple-Righi said the recent development of Sloane Street, near Sloane Square, was a reason behind the relocation. “We felt like it has a very good vibe down there,” she said. “We’re still looking for other locations within London as well. That’s why we thought it would be also good for change.”
The brand worked with interior designer Fran Hickman, and the look of the store takes its cues from ancient Japanese artistry and the classic styles of the architect and furniture designer T.H. Robsjohn-Gibbings. Hickman said she wanted to create a space that was elegant, modern and inviting, with walls that are hand-painted with gold leaves and Art Deco-inspired furnishings, colorful objects d’art and soft seating.
“London is the best place to try a new concept,” said Epple-Righi. “It’s so open. There’s so much going on. Our focus will be getting a couple of our existing stores into the feel of the new concept on Sloane Street. It’s going to be less about opening new stores and more about elevating our existing ones,” in 2018.
Escada operates 100 stores and has a total of 1,100 points of sale in 24 countries throughout North America, Europe and Asia. The ceo said the U.S., Europe and Japan were particularly important regions for Escada.
The new store carries the main line and sport collections, which consist of outerwear, dresses, tailoring, casual wear and accessories. To coincide with the launch, Escada’s newly-appointed global design director Niall Sloan has created a capsule cashmere knitwear collection that’s inspired Britain and the label’s archives. It consists of a cardigan, a turtleneck, and two other styles of sweaters in red and black.
Prices range from 445 pounds for the turtleneck to 950 pounds for the sweater. They will be sold in-store and online. The brand has also teamed with the Covent Garden Academy of Flowers on a charity project. Shoppers will be encouraged to make donations to Women for Women International, a charity that aids women from war-torn countries, in exchange for a bouquet.
She noted that while the brand is global, London has a mix of local customers as well as foreigners and tourists. “We have a very close relationships with lots of the foreigners,” said Epple-Righi. “As you know in the summer time there are lots of Middle Easterners who come to London. Our staff has really built up relationships with people who don’t always live in London, but who are fans of the brand. Harrods is more geared towards the foreigner, whereas customers in our own stores are a little bit more local.”
She said the brand is currently “moving at full speed” with the appointment of Sloan, and new heads of marketing, merchandising and IT. “We have a very good energy,”she said. “It’s a really nice combination because we have a lot of new people, but also a lot of people who have been working with the company for 25 years. At the end of the day, it’s also a very good atmosphere. We have that combination of heritage, but also people from the outside who go in with new ideas and points of view. We have lots of internal discussions and workshops. It’s very cool.”
Epple-Righi said there will be a bigger launch in January for shoes and bags. “It will still be a separate collection, and it has to have great quality. We really want it to be colorful and fun, but have great craftsmanship. All the bags are coming from Italy. I just saw the prototypes on Monday and there are some very exciting pieces in there.”
The executive said that online is becoming an important element for the label, too, adding that the brand’s web site was previously managed by a third-party but was taken in-house earlier this year. There are also plans to amp up social media initiatives as well. Epple-Righi declined to discuss sales figures, but said she was happy, so far, with the performance of the store and said she was confident about the future.