Vilebrequin has aggressive expansion plans for the U.S. market.
This story first appeared in the June 4, 2012 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
The luxury French swimwear and resortwear brand for men and boys plans to add three boutiques to its existing 12 units in the U.S. by this fall. The first shop is scheduled to open in San Francisco at 75 Geary Street on June 9, followed by a second unit in August at The Mall at Short Hills in Short Hills, N.J. The third boutique is projected to open in Greenwich, Conn., in October. Each shop, which will feature the brand’s well-known father and son collections, will average 800-square-feet and will be rendered in sky blue walls, wood or provincial tile floors and rustic iron fixtures accented with rattan panels that are reminiscent of the brand’s heritage of Saint-Tropez.
“We are really poised to bring the brand to people in a more aggressive way. The time is right in terms of developing the brand internationally,” said Brian Lange, managing director of the Vilebrequin operation in the Americas.
The firm, which was founded in 1971 and is owned by Fashion Fund One, a private equity company in Amsterdam, is also planning to open more than nine additional retail units over the next several years. Locations are selected based on consumers’ discretionary income and lifestyle.
“There’s tremendous opportunity in California because of lifestyle and affluence, and San Francisco will complement our shop in Beverly Hills. We are also looking at Orange County. Short Hills was a strategic decision because we are best known in the Tri-state area,” he explained.
Lange would not give the brand’s annual sales volume but said sales in the U.S. have consistently been in the “low double digits” since 2010. The company operates over 100 boutiques worldwide.
In addition to swimwear, Vilebrequin’s collections include linen shirts, cotton polos, cargo shorts and pants and cotton T-shirts. Accessories include cotton caps embroidered with the Vilebrequin turtle, beach bags and plush towels in bold colors. The men’s range retails from $120 to $590, and the boys line is $110 to $140.
In other news, Vilebrequin has partnered with the Fairmont Miramar Hotel & Bungalows in Santa Monica for a series of volleyball tournaments this summer. Vilebrequin-branded umbrellas will be featured at the Miramar Beach Club with beach butlers dressed in the brand. In New York, Vilebrequin will be dressing the staff at the Trump SoHo hotel pool with swimtrunks, caps and tops for men and women.
The company also has partnered with French ocean explorer Fabien Cousteau to promote a “Plant a Fish” environmental initiative.