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BERLIN — Rena Lange is stepping up the tempo of its international retail expansion, with stores slated to open in Paris, New York and Moscow this year, followed by Milan and Los Angeles at a later date.
This story first appeared in the March 11, 2014 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
The Munich-based fashion house, which was acquired by Rudigier & Partners in December 2012, is also set to sign a contract with a partner in China “in the next few days,” Siegmund Rudigier told WWD. “We will have our Chinese market launch this fall with five stores.”
In Paris, Lange has taken over a former gallery opposite the Bristol Hotel at number 79 Ru du Faubourg Saint-Honoré, which will house a two-floor store with about 1,950 square feet of selling space as well as a showroom as of June. Lange pulled out of the French capital about seven years ago, “but we are a fashion brand, and we have to be where fashion is, which is Paris,” Rudigier said.
This fall, Lange will open a 1,725-square-foot store on Madison Avenue and 67th Street in Manhattan. The company’s New York showroom will remain at its West 14th Street location.
Last month, the brand’s first Russian door bowed in Moscow’s Crocus City mall, bringing the total number of Rena Lange stores to 21. Of these, nine stores are company owned, and the remainder are operated by partners. Also on the drawing board: a second Moscow door, plus stores in Vladivostok, Russia, and Baku, Azerbaijan.
All the new stores will feature a new shop design developed by Team Concept. “We’re trying to add a more emotional touch, making the stores more approachable and at the same time more modern,” Rudigier explained. The stone floors will be in a warmer tone, for example, though the final material selection has yet to be made.
The retail expansion marks phase two of the brand’s reorientation under Rudigier and his wife, Claudia. The first step was to “focus on the collection” and add new product groups, such as the first full accessories range for next fall, or spring’s trial lingerie capsule collection. The company said the lingerie was so well-received it will remain part of the overall range.
Fall will also see a Rena Lange evening wear collection. “We have this background, and it’s part of our heritage,” Rudigier said, adding the brand is working to again build up its atelier. Called Metropolitan Dreams, this first compact evening wear range will retail for between 1,900 and 3,900 euros, or about $2,600 to $5,350 at current exchange. Key looks include waist-accentuated evening jackets, tailored white pantsuits or black silk jumpsuits and softly flowing silk dresses accented with sequins and rhinestones, cutouts and bows.
The goal, according to the owners, is to “reestablish Rena Lange as a global luxury brand with a clear couture approach. At our small size, we still intend to play a relevant role, focusing on the highest product quality, our handcrafted legacy, a certain modernity, and good fit, but without being ultra-fashion-forward. We are not a brand that will be inventing new fashion trends,” he summed up.
Rudigier & Partners, which also owns the Viennese shirt company Gloriette and the outerwear company Mabrun, snapped up German bridge collection St. Emile late last year. The brand will move into a 750-square-foot store directly next door to the new Rena Lange store in Paris, and while the two labels occupy different market levels, Rudigier noted, “We can use the structure and organization of Rena Lange to help St. Emile.”
Primarily sold in German-speaking Europe, Rudigier sees considerable international potential for St. Emile. Already in the U.S., “but on a low sales level of about $100,000, we intend to rearrange the system and then take it back to the States. Through the Paris [Rena Lange] showroom,” he added, St. Emile can then address the Middle East and Central European market.
No further acquisitions are in sight. “We’re not in a shopping mood, and really have to focus and concentrate on the brands we have now. But in two or three years, who knows?” he said.