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.
Breaking News: @louisvuitton's men's artistic director @mrkimjones is leaving the French fashion house after nearly 7 years. Jones joined Louis Vuitton in 2011, following a three year tenure as creative director of British luxury goods brand Alfred Dunhill. Jones is to exit Louis Vuitton after showing his fall 2018 collection for the brand in Paris on Thursday. Read the full exclusive story on WWD.com. Link in bio. #wwdnews #wwdfashion
For men’s fall 2018, @giuseppezanotti drew on elements from streetwear, sport, biker, combat and rock ‘n’ roll. Pictured here are a pair of shoes from the collection, featuring zippers, rhinestones, and silver hardware. Head to WWD.com to see a roundup of the accessories from Milan’s men’s fall 2018 shows. #wwdfashion (📷: Andrea Delb)
To celebrate the 25th anniversary of @ralphlauren’s snowboarding collection, the brand is mining its archives. The iconic brand is reintroducing vintage styles and dropping new designs for a color capsule that will be available in Ralph Lauren stores and @openingceremony on January 25. The capsule will consist of 10 pieces, including the Snow Beach Pullover, pictured here, which is a collector’s item that rapper Raekwon wore in Wu-Tang Clan’s “Can It Be All So Simple” video. #wwdfashion (📷: Tom Gould)
For @rochasofficial’s pre-fall 2018 collection, creative director Alessandro Dell’Acqua channeled the sophisticated and intriguing Catherine Denevue in the film “Belle de Jour.” Polished collarless coats, midi skirts, suits and ’60s graphic motifs were all featured in the collection, adding a sense of discreet luxury. See the rest of the photos on WWD.com #wwdfashion
“We tried to produce clothing of that couture quality, but the most daunting part was that we only had a matter of days [to do it],” said costume designer Lou Eyrich, who recreated Gianni Versace’s iconic looks for @americancrimestoryfx. Eyrich searched online retailers and vintage shops for original pieces from the design house and for @penelopecruzoficial, who plays Donatella Versace. Head to WWD.com to read how she created the Versace world. #wwdfashion
Only three months after her stellar debut catwalk season, @kaiagerber has inked her first big design collaboration –– with @karllagerfeld. The collection blends Lagerfeld’s Parisian chic aesthetic and the model’s signature West Coast casual style via RTW, accessories, footwear and more. The #KarlLagerfeldxKaia collection will launch in September with a series of events. Get all the details on WWD.com. #wwdnews #wwdfashion
Harrods plans to remove the famous statue of Princess Diana and Dodi Al Fayed from the bottom of the Egyptian escalators and hand it back to Mohamed Al-Fayed. “We are very proud to have played our role in celebrating the lives of Diana, Princess of Wales and Dodi Al Fayed at Harrods and to have welcomed people from around the world to visit the memorial for the past 20 years,” said Michael Ward, Harrods managing director. “With the announcement of the new official memorial statue to Diana, Princess of Wales at Kensington Palace, we feel that the time is right to return this memorial to Mr. Al Fayed and for the public to be invited to pay their respects at the palace.” More on the news, with reporting by @loreleimarfil, at WWD.com. #wwdnews