While the recession is prompting caution among luxury goods companies, Vilebrequin is moving ahead with plans to transform its popular swimsuit line into a global lifestyle brand.
In the past four months, the Geneva-based accessories company inked five master licenses to distribute to new regions, formed partnerships to bring the Vilebrequin name to the classification business and made good on its promise to launch sportswear.
The last occurred in the brand’s new, paint-still-wet showroom in Manhattan earlier this week, where Thierry Prissert, chief executive officer of Vilebrequin’s North American operations, showed off the company’s first fully realized sportswear collection.
“Our strategy has always been to grow little by little,” he said of Vilebrequin, which was acquired by the Dutch private equity fund Fashion Fund One in December 2007. “Now we think it’s time to expand our product offering.”
The sportswear collection takes its cues from classic resortwear and includes pique polos, a light boating jacket, linen shorts, loosely woven shirts and washed scarves — all in Saint-Tropez-friendly white and navy blue. Aside from a wintertime knit cap and scarf, the sportswear collection never strays too far from the pool. “You’re not going to see us doing heavy sweaters and jackets,” Prissert explained. “We are still in the sun business.”
The expansion has prompted the company to move its delivery schedule to a traditional fashion model. Instead of one collection with two deliveries — one in November, the second in March — Vilebrequin will now have three separate collections — fall, cruise and spring — with related deliveries.
The company expects its sportswear collection to account for 35 percent of global sales by the end of 2010.
While Prissert admits plans for the line were conceived before the recession, he said sustained growth in 2008 encouraged executives to move forward. “We realize it’s not the best time, but we’re confident about the product and our plans,” Prissert said. “We’re not in it for the short-term.” The privately held company does not release sales figures but said its global revenues jumped 14 percent in 2008; sales in the U.S. alone rose 16 percent.
The brand is also gaining floor space at retail — Bloomingdale’s plans to open eight Vilebrequin shop-in-shops starting in March — and is moving into new regions. Since November 2008, the company has inked deals for master licenses in Brazil, Central America and the Caribbean, the Middle East, Russia and Malaysia.
The company also expanded its swimsuit offering with trimmer silhouettes, a longer boardshort and new fabrications in a bid to appeal to a broader demographic. It even added an opening price, vintage model that retails for $150. “Vilebrequin’s style can appeal to many different kinds of men,” Prissert said.
Vilebrequin is also looking to shore up partners in the classification business. The company has its eye on the footwear and sunglass markets and recently signed a deal with Italian manufacturer Confezioni Madamar Srl to produce underwear. The project, headed by the former owner of La Perla, Daniele Borgomanero, will launch at Pitti Uomo this summer.
There'll be no rest for those headed to Europe for men's, as Paris just closed the gap with Milan. According to a provisional calendar released by the Chambre Syndicale, Paris Men's Week will now open a day earlier on January 16. See new highlights on the official lineup on WWD.com. #wwdnews #wwdfashion (📷: @kukukuba)
BREAKING: Jonathan Saunders is leaving @DVF. The designer has resigned from his position as chief creative officer of Diane von Furstenberg, the company said in a statement on Friday. At the time of his hire, von Furstenberg said Saunders’ arrival symbolized and facilitated her stepping back from the day-to-day duties that occupy the work of a full-time creative director. The British designer joined DVF in May 2016 and was in charge of all product categories. #wwdnews
For @versace_official’s spring ad campaign, the brand emphasized the archival prints from the spring tribute collection dedicated to the late Gianni Versace. Closing out the show were five of Gianni’s favorite models: Cindy, Naomi, Carla, Helena, and Claudia. Bowing on December 18, the new campaign is yet another tribute to supermodel-dom as the images by Steven Meisel are fronted by @iamnaomicampbell, @cturlington, @gisele and more. #wwdfashion
Four-time Oscar-nominated actress Annette Bening has been waiting 20 years to play Gloria Graham in "Film Stars Don't Die in Liverpool," which will be released on December 29. The movie about Graham – a Hollywood star known for her controversial relationship with a younger Englishman named Peter Turner – is based off a memoir Turned wrote. "She felt vulnerable to him, because she loved him, she really did love him. And anyone that we really truly are in love with, we re vulnerable to in a very deep way," said Bening. Read our full interview with the modern icon of an actress on WWD.com. #wwdeye (📷: @ninebagatelles; Styled by @cristinaehrlich)
The crisp white button down: a staple that can be dressed up or down and accessorized throughout the decades. Here, on a Art Basel-goer in 2017 on the left and on the iconic Audrey Hepburn in “Roman Holiday” in 1953 on the right. #tbt #wwdfashion (📷: Andrew Morales)
Known for her work with @victoriassecret, 25-year-old model @georgiafowler is raising her profile in Hollywood. Fowler stars in @vincecamuto’s holiday campaign, which launched in partnership with “Pitch Perfect 3.” “Almost every shoot with Vince Camuto, I’ve had to face a fear…It was definitely a challenge. I’m so grateful for it, though. I’ve always wanted to be a pop star, so that was the perfect chance,” Fowler said. Head to WWD.com to read about Fowler’s experience modeling, including at the #VSFashionShow, and her relationship with Nick Jonas. #wwdeye (📷: @jilliansollazzo)
EXCLUSIVE: Huda Kattan just became the first beauty influencer to land a major beauty deal. Kattan's business, @hudabeauty, has received a minority investment from private equity firm TSG Consumer Partners. The brand, which industry sources say is on track to do $200 million in retail sales for 2017, will receive support on product, retail and geographic expansion through the deal. Get all the details on the deal and read @_a_collins' interview with Kattan on WWD.com. Link in bio. (📷: @jgreenery) #wwdbeauty #wwdnews
Peruvian model @juanaburga_official – who is known for walking the runways of @rodarte, @viviennewestwood and @torybuch – is making the move to the big screen with drama “Los Últimos.” The film premiered in Argentina in November and arrives in the U.S. and Europe in 2018. On making the switch from modeling to acting, Burga told WWD: “It’s a completely different thing – a lot of people think it’s similar or try to connect things, especially like getting used to the camera or being looked at all the time or playing these different characrers, but film is a completely different story.” #wwdeye (📷: @jgreenery)
London’s newly opened @designmuseum will look back on the life and work of Azzedine Alaïa in a show that the designer helped to curate before he died of heart failure last month. The retrospective, which Alaïa had worked on with Mark Wilson, chief curator of the @groningermuseum, will look at the impact of his work worldwide. The show, “Azzedine Alaïa: The Couturier,” will run from May 10 to October 7. Read more about the exhibit on WWD.com #wwdnews #wwdfashion (📷: @zefashioninsider)