PARIS — Lipault is the latest brand looking to capitalize on the luggage fever sweeping the industry, with a collaboration with Jean Paul Gaultier set to launch in August.
Following a line codesigned with Inès de La Fressange last year, the capsule, which will be distributed in Lipault stores and on the brand’s e-shop as well as in select retailers internationally, marks the second hook-up for the French luggage brand since being acquired by Samsonite Group in 2014.
“Luggage is hot, there are more and more people who travel and who are traveling more and more. People are also realizing that luggage is an accessory, that you keep luggage close to yourself, and that it says something about you,” said Samsonite Europe president Arne Borrey at a preview of the Gaultier line on Tuesday at Les Bains here.
The Gaultier capsule — a first for the couturier, who did bags for his now-shuttered ready-to-wear line but has never before dabbled in luggage — is based around a soft suitcase available in three formats that plays on the house’s masculine/feminine and innerwear/outerwear codes. It has a sober patchwork of pin-striped wool and nylon on the outside and, on the inside, a contrasting pink satin corset to hold items in place. The line includes a range of leather goods and small accessories. Prices range from 69 euros for a toiletry bag to 269 euros for the large suitcase.
“The aim was to add a touch of fashion and fun,” said Sophie Waintraub, general manager of Jean Paul Gaultier, also present at the event.
Known for its vibrant palette of colors and smart nylon twill designs, Lipault, which is Paris-based and has its roots in travel, is positioned as an “affordable” brand geared to the female consumer. Borrey said the plan is to expand into leather goods. “The ambition is to become a brand for women who [identify with] the values that Lipault projects, and the environment in which this happens has to do with travel but also with daily life,” he said.
Lipault was founded by François Lipovetsky in 2005 and in the pre-Samsonite era generated around 95 percent of sales locally. But it’s steadily going global.
Harnessing the infrastructure of Samsonite, net sales at Lipault have grown from around 6.5 million euros in 2013 to 30 million euros in 2017, as one of the group’s fastest-growing brands, Borrey said. In terms of the ranking of brands in the group’s stable, Samsonite is the biggest, followed by American Tourister and Tumi. The Hong Kong-listed luggage maker in 2017 generated total sales of around 3.5 billion euros.
As part of Lipault’s international expansion, seven stores boasting a new design have opened in Europe this year, with Mexico and Korea, China, Japan and Australia among key new markets. The brand counts 220 doors internationally, with a presence in 50 countries, and has 20 own stores.
The focus is on own stores and department stores, Borrey said, adding: “With the Gaultier line, you might even see some fashion stores pop up as we’ve had a lot of interest from that segment.”
Airports are part of the group’s general distribution strategy, but Lipault is still too young to enter the channel, he said.
The Gaultier capsule will feature in advertising campaigns on billboards and in print and digital media in key markets. A video campaign unveiled at the event — directed by Julien Vallon and featuring intersex model Hanne Gaby Odiele — will also run in theaters in France as well as on the brand’s social media channels, including YouTube.