NEW YORK — When Salzburg, Austria-based Rudigier & Partner acquired Rena Lange last December, its new owners, husband-and-wife team Siegmund and Claudia Rudigier, wasted no time before developing plans to reenergize the German brand from what they considered a few quiet years.
“We want to strengthen the brand again,” Siegmund Rudigier said on a recent trip to New York with his family and new creative director Annick Gorman in tow to present the spring collection. “You have a very strong brand, but it was silent internally over the last four or five years. It was never damaged but silent. We need to get a stronger customer base, and we have to invest in advertising and marketing.”
He and his wife had been eyeing Rena Lange for nearly five years before they were able to secure the deal, terms of which he didn’t disclose. Previously in the hands of the founding family, the Rudigiers bought the brand from Daniel Günthert, who had also been managing director of his family’s fashion house but left after the acquisition.
Since then, the first order of the day has been to work on the collection and refocus it on several core brand values — “superior quality, craftsmanship and a real love for details, materials and fit,” he said. “The collection in former seasons was very big and not really focused, and with Annick, who joined us in January, we are going back to this strong DNA of the brand.”
Spring marks her second collection after resort, and she was inspired by the Fiji islands, from the vibrant colors to tropical floral prints.
Gorman, who divides her time between her Paris home and Rena Lange in Munich, came to the brand with an extensive fashion background. Prior to Rena Lange, she was creative director of L.K. Bennett in London; before that, she was collections director at Jean Louis Scherrer in Paris. She also had senior creative roles at Cacharel, Galeries Lafayette and Céline. “I see the potential to develop the brand internationally,” she said. “I always said it was a sleeping beauty.”
With Gorman on board, the new owners also started to work on accessories, from shoes to bags, with future plans for eyewear and fragrance.
Rena Lange has a total sales volume of 30 million euros, or $38.6 million at current exchange. The U.S. market represents close to 25 percent of the brand’s business, and the collection is available here at 35 Neiman Marcus doors, two Saks Fifth Avenue doors as well as a slew of specialty stores like Shari’s Place in Greenvale, N.Y.
Growing retail is another area of renewed focus. “We have our own retail stores in Germany, in the U.K. and in Austria,” Rudigier said. “We need to expand the retail network. We miss major locations. We would like our own retail store in New York, in Milan and one in Paris.”
Specifically, he added, “We have no presence in China, which is a point we really have to work on. We all know that in, say, five years, 40 percent of luxury sales will be by Chinese in China or by Chinese outside of China.”
Another revenue source will be the Web site, which was relaunched earlier this month and features an online shop available to the U.S. market.
Rena Lange isn’t the only brand expected to benefit from the acquisition. The parent also owns Gloriette, the Vienna shirt company that dates back to 1886, and outerwear company Mabrun. Both are being positioned to expand here through the New York-based U.S. division of Rena Lange, of which Tracy Welch is the president.
“Azzedine has been one of the biggest influences in my life. He has always been such a strong, loving, fatherly figure to me. I call him Papa. His designs are indescribably unique, they are pieces of art. He knew how to make the female form look its loveliest. I have so many memories of him; my favorite might be during my first show with him in Paris. He liked me and he wanted to help me get more work. He called all his friends at Kenzo and Comme des Garcons, and asked them to book me. They said, ‘But she can’t walk!’ And he said, ‘but she has such a great ass!' His friendship and support has been the great privilege of my career. I can't imagine life without him. Repose en paix mon Papa.” - @stephanieseymour tells @wwd. #wwdfashion (📷: @steveeichner) #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa, flanked by two of his closest friends, models Stephanie Seymour and Naomi Campbell.
He designed Seymour’s dress for her 1995 wedding to Peter Brant, and treated Campbell (who famously called him Papa), like a daughter. For more on the legendary designer, tap the link in bio. #wwdfashion #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa's “I-did-it-my-way” ethos stood out starkly at a time when brands are experimenting with consumer-facing fashion shows, coed formats and trans-seasonal collections – anything to perk up lackluster sales of ready-to-wear in an age of Insta-everything. “It’s not creation anymore. This becomes a purely industrial approach,” the late designer told WWD in an interview last year. “But anyway, the rhythm of collections is so stupid. It’s unsustainable. There are too many collections.” Read more about the iconic designer’s life and work on wwd.com, link in bio. #wwdfashion #azzedinealaia (📷: @WWD Archive, 1986) #alaia
Sneaker reselling app @goat’s latest exhibit, "The Greatest: New York," tells the story of New York's sneaker culture. To celebrate the exhibit, an intimate crowd gathered on Thursday night at the pop-up gallery space, located at Platform in Culver City, to hear guest speaker and illustrator @esymai talk about her own rise in streetwear and women in the business. "For me I'm just someone who is creative. I like to create things," said Chang. #wwdfashion
Azzedine Alaïa, one of the most iconic couturiers of the modern era whose body-con designs defined Eighties fashion, has died in Paris. The diminutive Tunisian-born designer, known for his structured knitted dresses with fitted waists and impeccably cut, figure-hugging second skin silhouettes was deeply admired by his peers, and counted supermodel Naomi Campbell - his adoptive daughter - among his inner circle, one of a gang of glamazons including Farida Khelfa, Carla Bruni and Stephanie Seymour who became ambassadors of his style. (📷: Alexandre Guirkinger) #wwdblast