LONDON — Jigsaw, the 35-year-old British brand known for giving classic English pieces a twist, has just got a fresh jolt of style — and a new creative director.
Louise Trotter, who before joining Jigsaw in September was senior vice president, creative director of H Hilfiger and, before that, vice president of product design and development for women's merchandise at Gap brand, said she isn't planning to drastically alter the brand's signature.
"My vision has been to take inspiration from the brand's heritage; I've grown up with Jigsaw and remember coveting pieces from [the store]," said Trotter, sitting in Jigsaw's sunny Bond Street showroom here that was filled with the scent of pastel pink roses and lilac hydrangeas. "I want to make the brand feel relevant again."
Trotter has infused the fall and holiday collections of trenchcoats, smock dresses, capes and jackets with fashion-forward touches — a cropped swing jacket made from Shetland wool has been given a metallic coating to give it a subtle sheen, while a silk bell-sleeve top printed with tiny flowers was inspired by a damask floral upholstery fabric Trotter had found on London's Portobello Road. "We've played with volume, and used the heaviest duchesse satins [contrasted] with soft, diaphanous fabrics," said Trotter.
There are also accessories, such as patent leather court shoes, flat leather riding boots and oversize patent leather shoppers.
"It's not about the deliveries feeling different, but creating a narrative that continues from the last season," said Trotter. "We're thinking about what [the customer] is doing at that time."
And since Jigsaw — which has hit London headlines because Kate Middleton, Prince William's on-again, off-again girlfriend, works in the design department — began its push into the U.S. three years ago, the customer base has broadened.
The brand has four stand-alone stores on the West Coast and two shop-in-shops in Parisian department stores in Atlanta and Huntsville, Ala. More stand-alone stores will open in Nashville in October and in Berkeley, Calif., this year.
"I understand the U.S market, and it's not necessarily about just fashion,'' Trotter said. "It's about your own handwriting and great brands."Trotter said the brand's U.S. customer had responded well to Jigsaw's more fashion-led pieces, alongside the lightweight cashmere and merino knits that the brand is known for. "And there's been no price resistance," added Trotter. Retail prices at Jigsaw range from $39 for a jersey vest through to about $750 for a leather jacket.
Trotter declined to comment on sales figures for the U.S. But in the fiscal year ended Sept. 30, 2006, Jigsaw, which is owned by husband and wife John and Belle Robinson, posted sales of 89.6 million pounds, or $184 million, and a profit of 6.7 million pounds, or $13.7 million. Although the brand has so far concentrated on the West Coast, Trotter said Jigsaw had the East Coast in its sights, too. "We are looking right now, but it has to be the right property, and when we feel ready."
Jigsaw also has a licensed business in Australia, but Trotter said the brand had no plans to begin wholesaling its collections. "The retail experience is very much part of Jigsaw, and it's important that it's sold in the right environment," she said.
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