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PARIS — Carven is expanding its retail network to keep pace with rapid growth.
This story first appeared in the February 28, 2013 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Feeling a little cramped in its first Paris boutique, the French fashion brand is opening a second, larger store in the same Left Bank neighborhood today (EDS: Thursday 28 February), while simultaneously launching e-commerce in Europe.
At 1,300 square feet, the Paris flagship located at 13bis Rue de Grenelle is three times larger than the initial store on nearby Rue Saint Sulpice, which opened in 2011. But the spirit will remain the same. “Carven hasn’t fundamentally changed, but we have polished our concept, and this store will allow us better to show who we are,” said Carven creative director Guillaume Henry.
Conceived by Eric Chevallier, the space features small square sandstone tiles on the floor and light oak paneling on the walls, with touches of matchstick red dotted throughout, in the shape of leather-covered benches. A staircase leads down to the basement changing rooms.
In keeping with Carven’s contemporary positioning, the average price for a dress is 350 euros, or $450.
The French fashion brand, founded by Carmen de Tommaso — aka Madame Carven — as a couture house in 1944, has undergone a revival since Henry joined in 2009. It is now carried in 450 doors in 60 countries.
In addition to its two women’s addresses and three department store corners in Paris, Carven plans to open a men’s store on Rue de Sévigné this summer. Its e-commerce site, operated in-house, offers women’s ready-to-wear and accessories and men’s rtw.
“I think it’s essential for a brand to have 360-degree distribution,” said Henri Sebaoun, chief executive officer of Carven and Société Béranger, which owns the brand. He noted he expects the site to become “lucrative within 24 months.”
Carven is planning additional openings in the next few months in Kuwait, Hong Kong and Tokyo under license with local partners. Sebaoun also hopes to open the first Carven store in New York this year, and is in talks to open shops-in-shop at Bergdorf Goodman and Saks Fifth Avenue.
The label is carried in 100 doors in North America, but Sebaoun believes it has the potential to be present in 250 to 300 points of sale, and about 15 standalone stores, within the next five years.
“Outside of Phillip Lim, there is not a lot on the U.S. contemporary market that looks like our work,” he noted.
Revenues at Carven rose 50 percent in 2012 versus the previous year, and are set to progress around 30 percent in 2013. France is its top market, with 18 percent of sales, followed by the U.S. and Japan, with 14 percent each, and the U.K., which accounts for 10 percent. Ready-to-wear accounts for 80 percent of sales, and Sebaoun plans to expand the rtw offering with cocktailwear rather than push accessories.
To keep pace with its expansion, Carven is moving into new headquarters in Saint-Germain-des-Près. With 14,000 square feet of office space, the building, which previously housed photography archives, will bring together all of its teams for the first time.
Carven also plans to stage its comeback in the world of fragrance today when it begins selling a new women’s scent, Carven Le Parfum, exclusively in Paris’ Colette and through colette.fr.