PARIS — He was a shoe-in after all.
Charles Jourdan, the French luxury footwear and accessories firm, confirmed Monday that Patrick Cox is its new designer. WWD first reported that Cox, 40, was the front-runner for the position Dec. 17.
Cox’s first collection for Jourdan will be for spring 2004, spanning women’s and men’s footwear and leather goods. He will be charged with revving up a brand whose zenith came during the disco era, with sexy shoes, memorable advertising by photographer Guy Bourdin and what Cox described as “epic” store windows.
Jourdan has struggled in recent years, letting go of a third of its workforce — about 295 employees — last month, as reported. It also plans to shutter 15 shops it had opened in the U.S. over the past two years.
But Cox said the brand has “amazing” potential, based on the manufacturing prowess of its factory in Romans, France, near Lyon, and its rich design heritage.
“Roland Jourdan [the last member of the founding family to run the business] was one of the best shoe designers ever,” he said. “It’s a very strong brand. They just lost their way design-wise.”
Jourdan plans to establish a design studio for Cox and his team in Paris. A new boutique concept and revamped advertising are also ingredients in the company’s rejuvenation plan.
Jourdan had sales of about $82 million last year and “significant” losses, as reported. The company expects to break even this year.
Meanwhile, Canadian-born, London-based Cox will continue to design for his eponymous brand, which generated sales of about $43 million last year.
Cox’s privately owned firm sells footwear to 500 doors worldwide. At present, there are five company-owned Patrick Cox stores in Europe, three franchised locations in Hong Kong and 15 stores in Japan operated by his partner, Isetan. Cox recently launched a licensed handbag collection in Europe, and watches, clothing, bags and jewelry also bear his name in Japan.