Chloé is in transition mode.
The French label, a subsidiary of Compagnie Financière Richemont, has welcomed new designer Natacha Ramsay-Levi following the exit of Clare Waight Keller, who has departed to join Givenchy.
Waight Keller leaves behind a legacy of commercial success, particularly in the accessories category. WWD has learned that the house’s Nile bag for spring 2017 — a small saddle style with a metal bracelet for a top handle — has sold out at multiple key retailers, some within 24 hours. Store buyers are now heavily investing in the accessories from Waight Keller’s final collection for Chloé — including its circular, ring-handled Pixie bag — to maintain the momentum for fall.
“At Chloé, there is a continued trend. The Nile sold out on Day One, and we bought into their new fall runway bag that they are calling the Pixie bag, with that same bracelet. It’s a good brand for the price point in luxury,” said Cassie Smart, accessories buying manager for MatchesFashion.com.
The Nile style is priced from approximately $1,450 to $1,690 depending on size, and the Pixie is expected to range from $1,490 to $1,945.
Chloé chief executive officer Geoffroy de la Bourdonnaye said the company plans to continue its blend of “value, craftsmanship and creativity” under Ramsay-Levi’s watch to sustain its accessories success. Chloé’s existing leather goods atelier will remain in place during her tenure.
“We expect that the creativity of our studio will not only be continued, but amplified by the new creative energy of Natacha,” said the ceo.
De la Bourdonnaye declined to comment on the percentage of Chloé’s overall business from accessories, but noted it is “the number-one category, followed closely by ready-to-wear.”
He said there are multiple hallmarks for the Chloé bag, which buyers have long pointed out to WWD as a commercial boon for their competitive pricing and unique designs.
“I think it’s the attitude first of all. We are not a logo brand, we are known for having bags with very successful shapes that are very identifiable: the Paddington, the Marcie. Even though the shape has no logo, it’s still recognizable. When you look at the competition, most of the brands use the very typical shapes created by one of them, and then they all put their logo on it,” the ceo said.
Ramsay-Levi addressed Chloé’s worldwide staff for the first time last week. De la Bourdonnaye said: “The granddaughter of [Chloé founder] Gabrielle Aghion was particularly moved by the words Natacha used to express her pride and joy to take over from her predecessor and a founder whose personality she finds very daring, very genuine, very warm.
“She is the only granddaughter of Aghion and that suggests to me that [Natacha] is very much a Chloé girl, and different from all the designers who have been in the maison before.
“She spent a lot of time explaining how she sees Chloé as the intersection of the savoir faire of couture, the atelier, the craftsmanship of Paris, but also the attitude of youth and the energy coming from the young generation,” he added of her address.
Shoes will become a particular area of focus for Chloé in the coming years, as the company looks to boost the category’s success to equal that of its handbag business.
The brand will wind down its 15-year-plus licensing agreement with Onward Luxury Group for the manufacturing and distribution of its shoes. Chloé has already taken ownership of its distribution and will now begin to gradually transition to its own manufacturing facilities, in a shift expected to take a few years’ time.
“Shoes are becoming very important for us, we are in the process of investing in our own development and controlling the manufacturing of shoes. You will see very soon a new, refreshed portion of shoes,” said de la Bourdonnaye.
“I think it was a very good license, we are keeping OLG as the main source of shoes but have taken over distribution and will start gradually taking over some other manufacturing, but discussing with them how we do that in a way that is mutually beneficial.”